How to Not Get Stomach Cramps When Doing Sit-Ups
Muscle cramps are fairly common and their occurrence is still a medical mystery. Your technique, as well as other factors, can cause stomach cramps while performing situps. Some other contributing factors include fatigue, dehydration and a lack of magnesium and potassium in your diet. Muscle cramps are characterized by sudden involuntary muscle spasms and contractions, which causes moderate to severe pain. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes and preparations you can make to avoid muscle cramps in your abdomen and the rest of your body.
Warm up before you perform situps. Jog lightly for five to 10 minutes on a track or treadmill. Go up to about 60 percent of your maximum heart rate. Use the formula of 220 minus your age to get an estimate of your maximum heart rate.
Stretch your abdominal muscles. Get into the Cobra position. Lie in a prone position, with your hands shoulder-width apart and your legs flat out. Push yourself upward with your arms, lifting only your upper torso. Hold the position for about 10 seconds and slowly come down. Repeat this six times.
Exercise with the correct technique. Lie on your back and relax your head and neck muscles. Keep your legs and feet on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Ensure your back is relaxed with your hips and shoulders placed on the floor. In a controlled manner -- using only your stomach muscles -- raise your body to a 30-degree angle and come back down. Use your hands to keep your head still but not to assist in the situp. Inhale as you sit up and exhale as you return to the exercise mat or floor.
Stay hydrated before, during and after your situps. Have a bottle of water with you and take regular sips of it. Aim for nine to 13 cups of water for the duration of the day.
Take a multivitamin pill daily to get zinc and magnesium in your system. Muscle cramps and contractions may be an early sign of magnesium deficiency. On a long-term basis, get your magnesium and zinc from food sources. Legumes -- such as beans and peas -- whole grains, and a variety of nuts and seeds will help you attain your dietary needs for zinc and magnesium.
Consume potassium-rich foods. Like magnesium, potassium is an electrolyte responsible for proper nerve and muscle communication. Have bananas, oranges, yogurt, fish and avocados regularly in your diet -- they are rich sources of potassium.
Certain medical conditions can cause muscle cramps. These include atherosclerosis, hypothyroidism and hyperhidrosis. Consult your doctor for your treatment options.
Diuretics medication used to treat low-blood pressure may also cause muscle cramps.
- The New York Times: A Long-Running Mystery, The Common Cramp
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Magnesium
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Zinc
- Medline Plus: Muscle Cramps
- Active.com: Crunches: Proper Technique Will Help Avoid Pain And Produce Better Results
- Daily Mail: How To Do Perfect Sit-ups
Jason Eaton has been a writer since 2010, and has contributed to several magazines and clinical journals. He has worked as a pediatric dietitian and clinical researcher in the United Kingdom. Eaton holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics, as well as a Master of Science in human nutrition.