Basketball is an endurance sport that pushes your muscles to the limit. Fast passes, jump shots, and quick dashes up and down the court keep your whole body active. High performances games like basketball sometimes can’t go without cramps, which are a nightmare to an athlete. Regardless of the type of pain or where it is situated in the body, avoiding cramps is a sure way of keeping you in the best form and at the top of your game.

I’ve put together some tips on how to avoid cramps:

When playing basketball (or any other sport for that matter), your body loses water, potassium, and sodium through sweating. High muscular and cardiovascular endurance sports that take a long time of play tend to push the body hard making it sweat. Loss of water through sweating is a known thing and many people are quick to take water, forgetting that their sodium and potassium levels need replenishing. Hence, it is important to take in sports drinks that have potassium and sodium.

You should keep your body energy up by taking snacks that are rich in complex carbohydrates before playing. This will ensure that your muscles are not fatigued, which is a contributing factor to occurrences of cramps when playing. Whole wheat foods, cheese, and fruits are a good source of energy for your body.

It is important to do some warm-up exercises before diving into the game. These exercises are meant to activate your muscles to prevent pulls and stress on the ligaments, which can lead to cramps or other muscle injuries. This will only take a couple of minutes with some static stretches and cardio exercise that will involve all the major muscles in your body. Most coaches believe that warm-ups start with the back, on to the hip, then the hamstrings, on to groin, the quads, shoulder and culminate with the neck. If cramps are common on the legs, then give the legs more attention in your warm-up session.

Hydration of the body is very import before and during play and a dehydrated body is more susceptible to getting cramps. A good water intake will see you consume around a quarter liters of water with every 10 to 20 minutes of playing basketball, but drinking too much can cause over-hydration and cramps as well.

Take things slow on the court or even call for a substitution, if you feel like you are getting cramps. Prevention of cramps is a simpler affair than its treatment, so if you fill the signs like pulling or straining in your muscles, you should let your coach take you off the court, so that you can rest your muscles for a while. Make sure to rehydrate and massage the straining muscles before you called back to play.