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:
- Take frequent rest breaks when working out.
- Apply heat or ice to the sore area.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Increase your overall range of motion by doing low-impact activities such as swimming, biking, or walking.
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.