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Relieving Joint Pain and Muscle Cramps

Man holding his leg with red highlights indicating muscle cramp and knee pain.

Bliznetsov/iStock

In this Article:

  • Joint pain is usually caused from repetitive muscle and tendon use.
  • Muscle cramps are a result of muscle fatigue.
  • Pain can be reduced or prevented with simple changes to your routine.

Do your joints bother you after a run? Have you experienced pain while training for the APFT?

You may have overused your muscles or joints. Don’t be discouraged by the pain. There are ways to treat and prevent it from happening in the future.

Why Joints Hurt and Muscles Cramp

Repetitive muscle and tendon use—such as sit-ups or running—can cause pain around a joint. Joint pain may also be the result of wearing down cartilage over time.

Muscle cramps are a result of muscle fatigue caused by dehydration, overtraining, or lack of blood flow.

Treat Your Pain

Already hurting? Don’t worry, most joint pain normally goes away on its own. However, here are some things you can do to ease the soreness in the meantime:

Ways to Prevent Pain

When working out, try these tips to prevent the pain from starting:

  • Drink more water. Dehydration can cause muscle cramping. It’s important to sip on water before, during, and after your workout. Calculate how much you should be drinking with this hydration calculator.
  • Add electrolytes. When you sweat, your body loses essential minerals called electrolytes. Electrolytes regulate the fluids in your body that directly affect your muscle function. Drink 2-4 ounces of a sports drink during or after a workout to rehydrate.
  • Boost mineral intake. Foods such as nuts, bananas, oranges, potatoes, or dairy products provide your body with magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These minerals can help relieve muscle cramps. Eating a banana, which is rich in potassium, can prevent leg cramps after a run.
  • Scale back. Training too much can put strain on your muscles and may cause injury. For example, try reducing the miles you run by one-third and gradually work your way back up.
  • Stretch before and after a workout. Make sure you properly stretch before a workout with dynamic stretches and after with static stretches.

If you are still feeling unexplained pain, you should talk to your Medical Readiness NCO or a medical health professional. They can determine if you have an injury or if there is another underlying cause for your pain.

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