Tight muscles and cramps

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    Jan 28, 2008 4:11 PM GMT
    I'm looking for some thoughts on muscle tighness and cramps. I've never had a problem with muscle cramps but I have noticed that since I've been doing a lot more working out that my calves are feeling much tighter and at night (early morning) they tend to start to cramp up. I usually can feel this starting to happen when I move my leg in just the right way (like flexing my ankle) and so I move the other way to relieve it....but wondering if I'm needing more of something in my diet to feed the muscles? I do a lot of cardio (usually ellyptical and stairmaster stair mill). Just started more on weights now that I'm lost a lot of weight. Some of that working out included leg workouts. I've been trying to adjust my diet to eating healthier, which is going well. Not a heavy eater but I think it's pretty balanced. Any thoughts, ideas, comments, advice, scoldings?
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    Jan 28, 2008 4:32 PM GMT
    bannah.jpg

    And lots of water have always worked for me.
  • auryn

    Posts: 2061

    Jan 28, 2008 6:21 PM GMT
    potassium, midol, massage, water, hot bath, and a pad with wings for those heavy flow days. pick 4
  • CurvDkBlkTop

    Posts: 30

    Jan 28, 2008 7:37 PM GMT

    The added potassium such help with your discomfort, but MOST importantly, you need to spend at least 5 minutes stretching AFTER your workouts. If you are not, not only do you risk the muscular discomfort, but you are also
    increasing your chances of injuring your Achilles tendon...that's MINIMUM six weeks in a cast and another 3 months rehab. Take the extra time and stretch out your calves right after your work, while you are still "warm" from the exercise.
  • swlaman82

    Posts: 83

    Jan 28, 2008 7:42 PM GMT
    As a former athletic trainer here is my advice.

    Drink lots gatorade or powerade to start. They have the electrolytes you need to keep your muscles healthy. I would also avoid carbonated drink or drinks with a lot of caffeine. Other things that help is stretching well before and after your workout. As you build muscle you loose flexibility so stretching well always helps. You can also try bananas and some people say watermelon is a big help too. Taking a cold shower or bath helps to relive the soreness as well. If you do cramp up the best thing to do is stretch and an ice massage.

    I hope this helps you!
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    Jan 28, 2008 7:54 PM GMT
    Your not having bad cramps now so follow the above advice, but if they continue and get worse try quinine sulfate tablets which you can buy over the counter in the States. Unfortunately, I can not buy them in Spain and one must have a prescription from a doctor to buy them in England. Anyway, they work like a charm and are amazingly fast.
  • mljk

    Posts: 9

    Jan 28, 2008 9:56 PM GMT
    What muscle cramps are is excess lactic acid buildup in your muscles. Lactic acid (if my memory is right from my competitive track days - for the posters out there who spend all their time looking for mistakes,don't flame on me if there are some minor discrepencies) is caused when 02 is rapidly depleted from u're bloodstream, which produces the waste product C02. U start feeling cramps b/c C02 is in excess, causing greater amounts lactic acid, causing u to feel muscle cramps, because not enough 02 is flowing through u're bloodstream to support the muscles when they are being stressed from working out. Over time 02 gets replinished into u're bloodstream and the cramps subside.

    EB925GUY, the reason why u starting to feel some worst cramping is because u boosted up u're excercise routine, and u're muscles are not used to the extra stress, so the level of 02 that u're body currently maintains thru u're blood stream is not currently enuf to feed u're muscles when doing u're knew program, thus causing more severe muscle cramping.

    For short term remedies, I think SWLAMAN82 offered some good advice, as well as other posters' suggestion about potassium which is a great thing. I always eat a banana right after my workouts. Stretching is also key. Yes stretch diligently after u workout. Someone suggested 5 mins, but I say diligent stretching should last for 10 - 15 mins at least (I can spend 5mins stretching one muscle group). The reason why stretching is good is because it allows u're muscles to 'flush out' the lactic acid in a more efficient manner; thus, u should be feeling less pain sooner.

    Overall to minimize cramping, ultimately u need to increase u're body's Max 02 retention. The more oxygen that can be supplied to u're muscles (and retained), the slower lactic acid buildup will occur in u're muscles, thus causing less cramps. The only way to do this is to keep training and increase u're cardio/anaerobic performance, and this buddy takes time and hard work - but it pays off!

    Lastly, if u're cramping to the point where u are in EXCESS, quite uncomfortable pain, do take that day off from working out. Wait until u're body recovers and u feel ok. It's harmful to push u're body when there is a lot of lactic acid buildup in u're muscles still. And for some reason if u have to workout because u're life depends on it, taking some ibuprofane does help - but u don't want to depend on mediciation to get u thru a workout - not the most healthiest thing.



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    Jan 28, 2008 10:36 PM GMT
    Wow guys, this is exactly why I use this site. I knew I'd get some good feedback. Fortunately the cramps are not real bad and usually occur only when I start stretching my legs after sleeping. I have been trying to stretch after my workout but this drives home even more the reason and I'm probably not doing a real bang up job. I just came back from the store BEFORE reading most of the posts and yep....bought bananas.

    I really appreciate the input. I'm sure it will help Thanks guys! Don
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    Jan 31, 2008 12:06 PM GMT
    Don,
    In addition to al the above, you might try adding some yoga to your routine as well. The many forward folds and downward dogs in a session are great for stretching out the legs an increasing your overall flexibility.

    Keep lots of water handy all day too!
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    Feb 01, 2008 9:23 PM GMT
    Try ice and more cardio. Run your finger along the calf muscle with a bit of oil and see if you feel any tender spots. These are call trigger points and the muscle is physically blocked with Minerals that circulate in the blood.

    If so, Ice your calves or increase your cardio. Another thing to try is a muscle contraction of about 5-10% and hold the contraction for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.

    If it continues, seek out someone in your area that does, Neuromuscular release. It will be worth the money spent.
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    Feb 01, 2008 10:20 PM GMT
    Thanks again guys...all the info is a big help. Worked out last night, did some hard cardio on the ellyptical (is there such thing as "hard cardio" , ) followed by crunches and upper body and my calves have been really tight since.....not painful but noticably tight....have up'd the banana intake (no, not like that...well, yeah maybe that too) but almost afraid to do too much cardio involving my legs now. That has been my main stream method of exercise. Although, now I've lost over the 20 pounds I wanted and need to switch to more muscle building. I had heard at one time that more calcium should be taken too....I think I need to find a good supplemental vitamin and see if I'm lacking in anything there also. Again, thanks and keep those ideas coming in.
  • DanLMT

    Posts: 6

    Mar 23, 2008 9:51 PM GMT
    as an sports and injury recovery LMT for 16 years, an athlete for 29 years 17 as a triathlete.....Gatorade, Propel , etc is ALL CRAP... extremely low in ph meaning acidic so you are adding more toxins to the body besides all the chemicals in order to balance electrolytes...? and especially after you've spilled more lactic acid ? not good chemistry......drink ALKALINE WATER like Kangen Water....not Dasani or Aquafina either ..... they are reverse osmosis and highly acidic, too

    take a recovery week of easy cardio cross-training @ 50% , strecth, yoga, get regular massage, supplemement with MAGNESIUM for cramping NOT potassium which is more for heart funcion and fluid balance...or eat foods high in magnesium....which is why woman go to chocolate for their monthly time.....many toxins in most chocolate though

    much luck
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    Mar 24, 2008 5:28 AM GMT
    I get leg and calve cramps after long runs. Using a foam roller after these workouts has pretty much eliminated them...along with what everyone else said.
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    Mar 24, 2008 5:39 AM GMT
    Runninchlt saidI get leg and calve cramps after long runs. Using a foam roller after these workouts has pretty much eliminated them...along with what everyone else said.


    I'm totally confused by this. What does that accomplish? Do you literally just roll a foam roller up and down your leg? You've piqued my interest.
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    Mar 24, 2008 6:14 AM GMT
    Chewey_Delt said[quote][cite]Runninchlt said[/cite]I get leg and calve cramps after long runs. Using a foam roller after these workouts has pretty much eliminated them...along with what everyone else said.


    I'm totally confused by this. What does that accomplish? Do you literally just roll a foam roller up and down your leg? You've piqued my interest.[/quote]

    You can buy foam rollers at a sporting goods or medical supply store, it's basically a long round solid piece of foam.

    You sit or lie on it and roll back on forth. Between one's body weight, and the movement it's basically a way of giving yourself a deep tissue massage. They're used in pilates as well

    I hope I explained that clearly. I'm kinda tired...or Hell, just google Foam rollers, or foam roller massage. icon_lol.gif
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    Mar 24, 2008 6:34 AM GMT
    That's so much different than what I was thinking. I completely had an image in my head of you taking a foam paint roller and rolling it across your leg. So much less confused now.
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    Mar 24, 2008 10:54 AM GMT
    DanLMT saidas an sports and injury recovery LMT for 16 years, an athlete for 29 years 17 as a triathlete.....Gatorade, Propel , etc is ALL CRAP... extremely low in ph meaning acidic so you are adding more toxins to the body besides all the chemicals in order to balance electrolytes...? and especially after you've spilled more lactic acid ? not good chemistry......drink ALKALINE WATER like Kangen Water....not Dasani or Aquafina either ..... they are reverse osmosis and highly acidic, too

    take a recovery week of easy cardio cross-training @ 50% , strecth, yoga, get regular massage, supplemement with MAGNESIUM for cramping NOT potassium which is more for heart funcion and fluid balance...or eat foods high in magnesium....which is why woman go to chocolate for their monthly time.....many toxins in most chocolate though

    much luck



    As you've said, you do need potassium for fluid balance, but fluid balance and electrolyte balance are two sides of the same coin. You should make sure you have ample amounts in your diet, especially if you're losing a lot in your sweat and also having to concentrate potassium into your urine because of water loss from sweat. Also, if you eat a lot of protein you will need more potassium for some reason. If you normally drink lots of water and eat plenty of fruits during the day, then you don't need too much potassium or gatorade. A little bit of gatorade will go a long way.

    Potassium is very important for the functioning of all muscle types. In the case of skeletal muscle, potassium depletion of around the neuron controling the muscle can prevent an intended twitch to occur but still allow the neuron to hover around threshold to release neurotransmitter. With other electrolytes having imbalances and fluxuations ocurring at the same time, different neurons may randomly release neurotransmitter at some point to initiate cramping. This is especially relevant for the lower legs since the neurons controlling the calves are much longer than other neurons, so there can be several local electrolyte imbalances all along them.


    To prevent cramping, it's also very important to have ample magnesium because it is responsible for relaxation of a muscle twitch. However it won't do much without a lot of calcium as well. If your cramping is chronic, then perhaps you have a deficit in other minerals as well. You need zinc, manganese, selenium, and other things. Maybe you should take a mulitvitamin, plus an extra calcium/magnesium/zinc one. You need about 3500mg potassium/day. Bananas have 400-800mg compared to a supplement that has only 95mg, so even one banana a day will help a lot.
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    Jun 05, 2008 11:03 PM GMT
    alexander7 saidYour not having bad cramps now so follow the above advice, but if they continue and get worse try quinine sulfate tablets which you can buy over the counter in the States. Unfortunately, I can not buy them in Spain and one must have a prescription from a doctor to buy them in England. Anyway, they work like a charm and are amazingly fast.


    Unfortunately quinine sulfate may not work for everybody as it didn't worked at all for me (it did, however, mildly upset my stomach). But that's no worse than anything else I have tried as they didn't work either.

    Over the past couple of decades, I get cramps more than 50 percent of the times that I go surfing--some times in just one calf, other times virtually simultaneously in both. About 90% or more of the times when a cramp occurs, it does so immediately after kicking hard with a pair of swim fins to catch a wave, then stopping abruptly to change to kneeling on the board. So I suspect that it is this sudden cessation in kicking that triggers the cramp (can lactic acid accumulate that quickly?). Factors that seem to increase the probability of cramping include colder water and /or running during the previous day. Fwiw, (in case it is related) my calves are fairly well developed. When I get a "stock' (vs a custom) wetsuit, I need to have the circumference in the calf area increased by about 3-1/4 inches before I can wear it.


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    Jun 10, 2008 11:20 PM GMT
    alexander7 saidYour not having bad cramps now so follow the above advice, but if they continue and get worse try quinine sulfate tablets which you can buy over the counter in the States. Unfortunately, I can not buy them in Spain and one must have a prescription from a doctor to buy them in England. Anyway, they work like a charm and are amazingly fast.


    If you're considering using quinine sulfate, you might want to check out these warnings:

    http://www.fda.gov/CDER/drug/unapproved_drugs/quinineQA.pdf
    http://www.oshmanlaw.com/pharmaceutical_litigation/quinine.asp