Severe Foot Cramping

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    Aug 24, 2007 1:44 PM GMT
    For years, I've had problems with cramps. They usually happen at night when I'm in bed or just stretched out on the couch. They force my toes to bend up or down and it hurts like hell. Sometimes I'll get them in my hands too (the hand cramps are rare).

    I've tried eating lots of banannas, drinking lots of water, sports drinks and tonic water. My Dr. had me try magnesium and zinc suppliments. None of these have helped.

    Any ideas on what else I should try?

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    Aug 24, 2007 3:32 PM GMT
    I used to get cramps at night, and my doctor said it was because I was low in B12 and iron, so I started taking a supplement and they stopped. It might be worth trying?
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    Aug 24, 2007 3:33 PM GMT
    I get them in my hamstrings and calves after any prolonged exercise, even moderate.

    I started drinking a glass of salt water (about 1T of salt) because nothing else was working -- extensive post-exercise stretching, plenty of water, etc.

    Cramping is often caused by an electrolyte deficiency. There are two main electrolytes that facilitate the nervous impulses that make our muscles contract: sodium and potassium. Bananas have a lot of potassium. (I'm not sure what magnesium and zinc would do at all about cramps.)

    The thing is, potassium is the intra-cellular electrolyte, i.e. it's inside the cells. Sodium is the intra-cellular, i.e. in the interstitial fluid between cells. As a result, you don't really lose potassium to sweat -- it stays inside the cells and doesn't really fluctuate to a huge extent. But sweat contains sodium. In my case, a ton of sodium. From what reading I've done online, I end up in a state called hyponatremia (significant sodium deficiency) after a few hours of even leisurely cycling (admittedly the Texas heat plays a part there in that I sweat more than I otherwise would.) Hyponatremia symptoms include muscular cramps, headaches, malaise, and some other random stuff.

    Of the things you list, only sports drinks would contain sodium, and not necessarily very much, at that. The other liquids, since they contain no sodium at all, will actually make a sodium deficiency worse, since they dilute what sodium you do have in your body.

    I know salt has a kind of negative stigma, like it'll dehydrate you further, or excessive sodium causes high blood pressure, or whatever, but if you have painful muscular cramps, seriously just try consuming more salt. Try something controlled like a tablespoon dissolved in a glass of water, and see if it doesn't help.

    For me, taking that amount of sodium right after exercise completely alleviated all of my cramping. And I used to get it bad -- I'd be at a restaurant later in the day and both hamstrings would seize and I'd slowly have to straighten my legs under the table in agony, sometimes even standing up from the table and clutching the chair back, making something of a scene. No more!
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    Aug 24, 2007 3:34 PM GMT
    I meant to say that sodium is the inter-cellular electrolyte, not intra-.
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    Aug 24, 2007 5:48 PM GMT
    Thanks guys!

    Shopping later, so I'll pick up some B12 & iron.

    Meanwhile, I've got the salt on hand. HOLY CRAP! I had to dillute to make a gallon of water. Next question: with a seafood allergy, should I be taking in this much iodine or should I but the non-iodized salt?
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    Aug 24, 2007 6:06 PM GMT
    There's actually not a huge amount of Iodine in iodized salt. You want somewhere between 100 and 300 micrograms of it per day. Less than that you'll risk hypothyroidism (and goiters!); more than that you'll risk either hypo or hyperthyroidism, as the metabolic effects can be complicated.

    Having a seafood allergy means, most likely, that the vast majority of the iodine you take in is going to be in the form of iodized salt. Your seafood allergy is extraordinarily unlikely to be a reaction to iodine itself. Different brands of salt have different levels of iodine in them, so check yours out. And, realize that iodine is water-soluble, so your body won't store it--too much today won't mean that you should consume less than the recommended amount tomorrow, as it will flush through your system.
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    Aug 25, 2007 8:23 AM GMT
    You need to find out why your body is not absorbing the minerals you are popping each day. Also try to assist all toxic transportation as you continue to drink lots of water, and don't forget about recovery training.


  • foxysteve

    Posts: 11

    Sep 27, 2007 11:47 PM GMT
    In all my research, it's clear when we get over 40 years of age our bodies just don't retain sulphur which is key to joint flexibility. Sulphur is processed out of most packaged, zappable foods. SULFUR REPAIRS CONNECTIVE TISSUE. Get your daily sulphur via MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). If 'bundled' with glucosamine, all the better.

    Another is SAM-e.

    Really make the effort to buy and eat mostly pure, fresh, organically grown, unprocessed foods in the first place.

    Steve Perkins, The Cooking Buff
    author of The Muscle Kitchen