For many football players in the northern hemisphere, it is time for summer football matches. You may be playing in tournaments, training with your club, or trialling with a new team this summer. When the temperatures increase, one of the big football health issues is muscle cramps.
You will most likely sustain cramps in your calf or hamstring and the pain can put you down on the pitch in writhing pain.
What causes muscle cramps?
A muscle cramp occurs when muscles tighten and contract painfully. The painful sensation can occur suddenly and last a few seconds or a matter of minutes.
Football players experience muscle cramps when their bodies are overused. Fatigue and dehydration are two of the biggest factors that cause muscle cramps.
Continual running can cause the body to lose fluids thus causing issues. The average professional football player runs six miles per match. The pace, strain, and intensity of a match can cause the legs to cramp.
Heat and a lack of fluid intake can cause cramps to occur even more quickly than on a cooler day.
How to relieve muscle cramp pain
The best way to relieve muscle cramps, and something you will see professional footballers do, is to straighten the leg and pull your toes back toward your body. By lengthening the tight muscle, you will release the pain.
Massaging the tight, contracted muscle will also release the pain you feel in the legs. After a match, you may ice the cramped muscle or apply a heat pack or hot water bottle can also release the tension in the muscle when applied.
Proper hydration can prevent cramps from occurring. You should take on fluids as often as possible during a match to prevent dehydrating. By drinking plenty of fluids before you take the pitch, you can prevent any cramping issues, or at least lessen them, from happening.
Cramps are a common sight on a football pitch, especially when it is hot outside. Hydration can prevent you from going down with cramp and putting you on the sidelines.