For most of us, working out is hard enough! Finding the time, energy and motivation to head out, when you just feel like staying home and relaxing after a hard day of work, is a challenge. So when you finally get your act together and you're ready to start running - But of course, not even half way through, a jolting pain starts creeping up in your side! CRAMP! Now you spend the rest of your run slowing down, pressing your side, stretching, and breathing. ARRRGG! What a waste of time and effort!
More often than not, these types of cramps are felt in the lower ribs. Why? It's actually purely anatomical! The two lowest ribs receive blood from only one blood vessel compared to all the other ribs that have three blood vessels each. So basically, the lower ribs are constantly at a disadvantage.
But your anatomy doesn't change from one run to the next, so why would this difference in the number of blood vessels be the cause of muscle cramping? A common belief is that breathing improperly causes side cramps. Although it is true that a large percentage of people do not breathe properly when they run, improper breathing is not necessarily YOUR problem.
There are three main reasons why cramps occur:
- Improper breathing patterns
- Muscle spasms