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Avoiding muscle cramping

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 6:36 am GMT +0000    Post subject: Avoiding muscle cramping Reply with quote

I noticed from reading the race reports from Ruston that a LOT of riders had issues with muscle cramping. I certainly had calf cramping, my worst ever in a TMBRA race. I thought I was doing everything right...plenty of water, and although I didn't drink any sports drink, I did take Endurolytes and some Hammer Gel before the race. The Endurolye caps have worked for me in the past at keeping the cramping at bay, critical during endurance races. Ruston was my first bad cramping incident since I've started taking Endurolytes. One of my buddies uses Elete electrolyte concentrate, and he had cramping too.

I guess my question is: is at some point muscle cramping inevitable if the muscles are worked too hard? Or is cramping always a sign of an electrolyte imbalance?
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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1371
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 1:20 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote


If you push the muscles beyond their training level, cramps are likely to occur even with good hydration and electrolyte replacement. That is why it is important to target training to the intensity and endurance of a particular sport.

Electrolyte imballances will also cause muscle cramping. I have not been a fan of eletrolyte capsules. There is a tremendous advantage to taking the electrolytes simultaneously in a carefully calcutated concentration with water and glucose (better known as a sport drink). There is more water, electrolytes and glucose that are absorbed when they are consumed together and in the correct concentrations. It can be hit or miss by doing electrolyte caps and gel shots chased with water. The gels certainly have a benefit for providing extrea, needed callories over long endurance events so you don't have to pitch the gels. (CERTAINLY DON'T PITCH EMPTY GEL PACKETS ON THE TRAIL one of my HOT BUTTONS! You may have never done this but after picking up over 600 of them after a race in Warda, I banned sponsors from putting gel packs in racer packets. GEL PACKETS BAD, Mad REUSABLE GEL FLASK GOOD. Smile Breath deep now Doc, Okay I feel better.)

Don't forget to add daily stretching to help keep the muscle cramps a bay. Get a copy of the excellent book by Bob Anderson "Stretching" to guide you in doing stretching correctly.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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