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What REALLY causes exercise-induced muscle cramps?
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isobars



Joined: 12 Dec 1999
Posts: 18827

PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject: What REALLY causes exercise-induced muscle cramps? Reply with quote

This is an old thread. Skip to page 3 for an Oct '09 update.

Pop quiz:

What’s the real cause of, and how do we best prevent, exercise-induced muscle cramps/spasms?

A. Electrolyte imbalance: consume more potassium, magnesium, bananas, sports drinks, etc.

B. Dehydration: drink more fluids more often, especially sports drinks.

C. Insufficient stretching: stretch throughout windy days and throughout the year.

D. Celluar-level metabolism anomalies: train properly to alter localized metabolism in cramp-prone muscles.

E. Excess heat or cold: keep cramp-prone muscles warm but not overheated.

F. We can't really prevent them, but we can turn a cramp off by elongating the cramped muscle.

G. Electrolyte insufficiency and/or imbalance combined with dehydration: Consume plenty of sports drinks AND electrolytes.

H. They originate in our heads: focused relaxation techniques will abort pending cramps and turn off existing ones.

I. Overuse, plain and simple: Get ashore and massage a muscle that's twinging or cramping, even if it hurts.

J. Overstretching a muscle: Shift your stance to let muscles prone to cramping stay shorter.

There are bits of truth in most of these, but research shows one is a clear and proper answer. You'll get it after sufficient discussion or someone provides the correct answer -- or repudiation of where you know I'm going -- with substantiation.

Comments?

Mike \m/


Last edited by isobars on Mon Oct 05, 2009 1:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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spyder



Joined: 24 Sep 1996
Posts: 2790
Location: oahu

PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought it was from watching too much porno.. Shocked

seriously, isn't this the reason ?

"The loss of osmotically active particles outside muscle cells(NaCl) leads to a disturbance of the osmotic balance and swelling of muscle cells as these contain more osmotically active particles. This causes the calcium pump between the muscle lumen and sarcoplasmic reticulum to short circuit and the calcium ions remain bound to the tropomyosin and the muscle contraction is continued." wiki
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jpbassman



Joined: 19 May 1998
Posts: 3320
Location: Leo

PostPosted: Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably all of the above, including watching porno. But that only leads to wrist cramps. Shocked
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jingebritsen



Joined: 21 Aug 2002
Posts: 3271

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Methinks dehydration is the most important reason. Sports drinks give me heartburn as do all high fructose corn syrup things. Nasty factory foods make us all unhealthy. Dunno which is worse, HFCS, aspertame, or that hydrogenated oil. I avoid all of it. Have been way happier since. Cheers.
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ccyne



Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 139

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure the answer is G. I have to say Sports drinks are not all they are cracked up to be.
Your better off drinking tap water, eating a banana and a handful of salted peanuts. The banana provides energy and electrolytes, the salt will help keep the water in your system an the nuts provide additional energy. Of course in a pinch sports drinks can be beneficial, I just don't think slamming a bunch of them down is good.
I will typically drink 20oz sports drink for every Liter of water. I work outdoors and on a warm summer day 90+ I'll consume @ 1 1/2 gallons of fluids.

By the way you seem to talk about hydration alot in your posts. Kind of makes it easy to see where you are going with this. Unless you were using earlier posts as a misdirection and I fell for it. Embarassed
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peconic_sky



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Hampton Bays, NY

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The overuse of weakened muscles leads to cramps/spams. Proper hydration, electrolyte balance, blood and lymph flow (from stretching/massaging), and a relaxed state when at rest (ie, avoiding muscle tension from stress) were all mentioned previously.

One oft neglected culprit though is POSTURE. I know because I have been a long time offender (read: Gen-X slacker!). In short, slouching, locked knees, shoulders/head forward position while standing, and hunched shoulders while sitting at a computer, and sleeping on the stomach will all lead to constantly stretched or contracted muscles that will be prone to injury -- esp. when furiously waterstarting in the impact zone at the end of a long session on a cold day.



I have learned a lot about proper muscle care from my physical therapist who has a Pilates foundation, and from this Online Encyclopedia of Massage Therapy and Self Care Knowledge. Also learned a lot about trigger points (muscle knots), fascia and specific muscles in this Trigger Point Therapy Workbook.
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dbrock



Joined: 01 Jul 1995
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 9:57 am    Post subject: muscle cramps Reply with quote

The only time electrolyte imbalance has anything to do with muscle cramps is if the person is exercising in very hot conditions for a relatively long time, or if they have a metabolem disorder that predisposes them to this condition. This is why eating more bananas, orange juice, sports drings, etc., typically does not help the overall tendency for cramps. In fact, the only thing that seems to consistently have helped my patients with a cramping tendency is quinine either from a pharmancy, which I do not think is available any more, or tonic water. Gin and tonic anyone?. Remember, exercise stresses the muscles. Your muscles react to stress by getting stronger, more flexible, and they get improved endurance. The fact remains that at the cellular level, and sometimes at a higher level for our more enthusiastic athletes, there is damage to the muscle resulting in inflammation, edema, and spasm. This is most often noticed as post exercises muscle pain that you get the day after the first day of the season on the water. I think that cramps are just a reaction to the muscle being overworked and stressed to the point where the very concise methodology of muscle function mentioned above in one of the previous responses begins to break down resulting in abnormal muscle function- cramps!
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LeeD



Joined: 12 Jun 2008
Posts: 1175

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cool Cool
Actually, I find quite a few windsurfers suffering from elbow/forearm/wrist problems nowadays.
One common denomintor seems to be narrow spaced harness lines Laughing
You'll love that one.
My lines are spaced about 10" apart, starting maybe 16" from the boom head. No arm problems, but old age keeps coming, never stopping. Is there a cure for that? Er...not just dying, of course.
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Mulekick84



Joined: 18 Mar 2006
Posts: 402

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I rarely cramp when windsurfing and basically try to maintain a healthy diet with lots of veggies and fruits. I am a real meat hound though, and eat healthy portions of pork, chicken and red meat.

I have been training and riding endurance mountain bike races for years. I agree with Jinge that too much sports drink causes me heartburn, especially in longer races of 6+ hours. All sports Gu's or performance bars recommend taking them with water. Many people simply don't take in enough water with these supplements. I typically hydrate w/H2O for 2-3 days before a big event, expecially if the temps are forecasted above 80 degrees.

I balance water, sports drinks, Gu's, and salt (including salt pills) for training and racing. This has helped in cramp management and stomach issues associated with long term endurance.

If there is one primary component to cramping control, I say it is water intake.
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outcast



Joined: 04 May 2004
Posts: 2685

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2008 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So what if you cramp?
I have cramps when I am maxed out
Cramps are good
They tell me when I am done.
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