Abdominal muscles cramp shortly after they are exercised

  • MusclesMAn

    Posts: 3

    Mar 01, 2008 3:42 AM GMT
    I've never liked doing ab exercises, but at least I was able to do them, but more recently I've been having the ab muscles cramp up, much like most people would feel in their calves or hamstrings.

    It seems that pre-exercise cramping is triggered by simple things like putting on socks. The lifting of the leg and holding it there while both hands put on the sock causes same-side obliques or that half of the abs to tighten and cramp. It's definitely not spasming. I would not have eaten anything at that point, and this would be after a nice HOT shower.

    The other cause happens either during crunches or after they have completed and I'm changing back into regular attire - the act of putting socks on is the trigger. The cramping is strong, and the muscles stay tensed for anywhere between 15 seconds and 3 minutes. I usually will try to get to a completely straight postural position if I know it's coming and can get there quick enough, otherwise I end up buckled over, and forcing a slow move to a straightened position, and then wait for the muscles to relax.

    Two days ago I did one set of crunches on a half-dome type of ball, took a rest, then just as I started to lay on the dome for a second set, the full set of ab muscles (not obliques) contracted and would not release for about 5 minutes. I was stuck lying on the floor flat for the first two minutes.

    Leading up to the last paragraph was the following:

    1. I had eaten about 75 minutes before the beginning of my workout, but only had about 400 calories of food. I also had taken glutamine and other BCAAs one hour before the workout to help speed recovery time post-workout.

    2. I completed about 40 minutes of the workout when I was forces to stop. The workout started with 3 sets of walking lunges holding two 30 pound dumbells, 3 sets of calf-raises on a machine, sitting, and some triceps excercises.

    I'm puzzled as to why only my abs and obliques cramp, and nothing else. The tightening of the abs is painful because the pull is so steady and strong.

    Any ideas?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 01, 2008 6:40 AM GMT
    I get like that when I don't stretch my torso area.
    But thats only when I over load on crunches.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 01, 2008 9:45 AM GMT
    i don't know what possibily could be causing it but you should lay off of doing any ab exercise for a while, possibily 6 weeks to allow your abs to heal.
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    Mar 01, 2008 5:27 PM GMT
    Well first off good work on the effort on your abs and body in general. Usually cramps occur in people that are working damn hard. Although the BCAA's weren't a bad idea, I have to think that there is a different possibility. My first impression would be to look for depleted electrolytes. You don't say what your 400 calorie meal was, so I can't say for 100%. The most common cause of cramps is depletion of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, calcium.

    Most common causes of this are excessive fluid loss in sweating; fluid loss and replacing it with to much regular water which dilutes the electrolytes in your body (usually unlikely except in marathon runners and those taking diuretics), and insufficient nutrient intake. Lastly, alcohol consumption even the previous day can deplete these and increase the chances of cramping.

    Not knowing your diet its tough to say, but you may want to make sure you have gatorade available during and after workouts. Make sure you are including things like bananas, oranges, and tomatoes in your diet. Make sure you aren't on some ridiculously low calorie restricted diet that is leaving you nutrient deficient. A lot of times guys doing heavy training need to take a magnesium supplement. A very significant part of the US population is magnesium deficient and it leads to everything from depression to abdominal cramps.

    Another consideration, is to look at any medications you may be taking. Some medications can alter the electrolyte balance severely. Also a number of illegals can do the same. If you have questions in this regard you should speak with you doctor. I would check the diet and make sure your are getting enough healthy nutrients. One way to do this is to use fitday.com, its a completely free service, and you can track everything you eat on the site. Track everything for a week and use their report-nutrients tool to get a view of the amount of all the different nutrients you need and whether or not you are getting your RDA. If you do this, keep in mind that often times people doing heavy athletic training may need a bit more then the RDA. But it's a great way to get an objective view of your overall nutrition. If you choose you can also track training, weight, calorie deficiencies or excesses, long term progress, etc. Its a pretty decent site for a free one. Also if you have to see the doc, the reports will give you some ammunition to fight the "start eating better and call me in a month" response.

    If checking your diet, using a vitamin, and using a drink like Gatorade does not eliminate the problem, then I think it's time to see your doctor. Electrolyte disturbances that go unaddressed can lead to very serious and even potentially fatal problems. For example imbalances in several electrolytes can lead to irregular heart rhythms.

    Since you aren't reporting extreme pain during the exercises before the cramps, I am reluctant to think this is a muscle injury. I've had an injured abdominal muscle and they usually hurt like a SOB to do the exercises and you usually end up taking two weeks off of ab work to heal up.

    Bottom line if this doesn't improve with proper nutrition, hydration, electrolyte replacing sports drinks and a simple multivitamin, then get in to see your doctor.

    All this being said, I should tell you that everything I've said here, is strictly my opinion based on my experience and knowledge, and should not be taken as medical advice. You should consult a trusted health care provider for any serious medical concerns.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 01, 2008 7:40 PM GMT
    The same thing actually happened to me a couple of months ago. I assumed it was because I had not done abdominal exercises in so long. It has not happened since.