Hopefully someone has info on this subject. I train about 5 days a week, 3-4 hours at a time. Typically kickboxing, squats, sprawls, running, jump rope, and about 20 other plyometric/cardio drills each time. When I am laying down, or even at work if I tense my legs up, they cramp like you would not believe. The cramp holds as long as I let it, so basically I have to stretch my legs out in a different direction to break the cramp. The pain is tremendous, but also pretty invigorating. Basically I wish to know if this is purely muscle fatigue, lack of potassium or something more serious???
do you drink enough water? Do you take creatine? Creatine increases the likelihood of cramps as does dehydration.
I don't take creatine, and I drink at least a gallon of water a day, pretty much all I drink.
eat 3 bananas.
lack of potassium. I had that happen at a comp judo seminar and it was killing me. The host made me eat a couple of bananas, drink some water, and stretch out and I was fine for the rest of the time. Eat some foods with potassium (tablets can help, but foods seem to have a richer source) before you workout.
Taken from a sports medicine text.
Ordinary muscle cramps are common during and after athletic exercise and are frequent in young healthy people not involved in athletics. Cramps occur most frequently in the gastrocnemius complex and can arise during exercise, at rest, or while asleep. The cause of muscle cramps is uncertain. It is well known that their onset frequently follows contraction of shortened muscles. The cramp often
Figure 1-A-11 Schematic drawing of lacerated muscle. The laceration leaves fibers intact proximally and distally while dividing the central fibers. Scar tissue isolates the distal segment from its nerve supply. (From Garrett WE Jr, Seaber AV, Bokswich J, et al: Recovery of skeletal muscle following laceration and repair. J Hand Surg 9a(5):683-692, 1984.)
originates as fasciculations from a single focus or several distinct foci within the muscle, then spreads throughout the muscle in an irregular pattern. Electromyographic studies reveal fascicular twitching in a single focus, followed by high-frequency discharges within the muscle fibers. The electrical activity reveals that the entire motor unit is involved, and the initiating source is within the motor nerve fiber rather than within the individual muscle fibers themselves. Specifically, the focus is thought to be located in the terminal arborizations of the motor nerve fibers. Layzer supported these findings on peripheral motor nerve involvement and suggested that the disturbance could arise from hyperexcitable motoneurons in the spinal cord.
Ordinary muscle cramps are associated with a variety of conditions unrelated to exercise. Excessive sweating or diuresis can cause saline loss and may produce cramps. Renal failure patients on long-term hemodialysis often have muscle cramps. These conditions may be related to an alteration in sodium concentration, and administration of a saline solution sometimes is helpful. Lowered levels of serum calcium or magnesium have been implicated. Neither of these ionic disturbances is necessarily present in muscle cramps after exercise, however.
The cramp sometimes can be interrupted by forceful stretching of the involved muscle or activation of the antagonistic muscle. After resolution of the knotted and painful contraction, the muscle shows evidence of altered excitability and fasciculations for many minutes after the cramp. The muscle may be painful for several days after the event. Correction of electrolyte and water disturbances is thought to be helpful in preventing cramps, and adequate water and supplemental sodium may be given empirically, although the value of this treatment has not been proved. Drugs have been more helpful in treating cramps occurring in nonathletic individuals. Quinine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate have been beneficial, particularly for night cramps.  The use of these medications to prevent or control exercise-induced muscle cramps has not been studied extensively, and their efficacy is questionable at this time.
Despite their common occurrence, the cause of muscle cramps during exercise remains poorly understood. Many of the studies to date have been conducted in ultraendurance athletes to investigate the proposed mechanisms, which include dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, and muscle fatigue. Maughan followed 90 competitors at the 1982 Aberdeen marathon and found no correlation between hydration status and electrolyte balance and the incidence of muscle cramps.
DeLee: DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine, 2nd ed., Copyright © 2003 Elsevier
Hope that is helpful. If you have any questions about any medical terms, let me know.
Typically cramps like yours happen for one of two reasons. Muscle overuse, ie. extreme muscle fatique and/or an imbalance of electrolytes possibly due to dehydration and/or imbalanced diet.
I don't drink much coffee, max one cup per day. No salty foods, especially chips. It used to just happen when I was grappling, but since I've been doing alot more plyometrics it happens all the time.
potassium, elecrolytes, dehydration.. strain..
Pilot201 i have the same problem my doctor told me to drink 1 gatorade for lunch every day and this would stop that was about 2 years ago and it works i also have a protein shake in the mourning with 1 scoop of protein powder, 2 bannanas, 1 yougrt, 6 ice cubs and 1 cup of water. This helps to because of the Banannas stops the cramps. Banannas have potassium and Gatorade has Electolytes
It most definately would have something to do with the Muscle overuse. It only happens in my legs, and I do an obscene amount of pop squats, jump rope, kicks and other leg excercises. I don't think the diets a factor. I also make the fruit smoothees with banana's.
Gotta replenish your salt (sodium), potassium and fluids. Plyometrics are contraction of shortened muscles. From the sports medicine text "It is well known that their onset frequently follows contraction of shortened muscles."
Also, people who only drink water develop "hyponatremia". This is an electrolyte imbalance where you are over-diluting your sodium. Also happens in people who's only form of calorie intake is beer (called beer podomania). Try repleting your electrolytes more consistantly and see what happens.
We are water obsessed, but too much water can also be harmful if you dont replete your electroltes that you lose in training.
Some guys on our team just use a salt lick :)
I was kidding about the salt lick. Consuming excessive salt dehydrates you. Your kidneys are constantly trying to keep your electrolytes in balance. If you are low on salt, your kidneys try to retain salt. If you consume too much salt, your kidneys get rid of it. But when your kidneys get rid of salt, you lose water with the salt which is what is dehydrating.
In people who are very active, you lose salt through your sweat. Although most people consume enough salt through their diet, some people are obsessive about their diet and limit their salt intake to nothing. If you lose alot of salt through training, drink only water, and limit your salt intake to little (which is almost impossible in our society), it is possible to have a requirement. Very easy for Pilot201 to try, eat some chips or other high sodium substance for a few days. See how he feels. No cramps, done. Still cramps, try Potassium.
Add cutting roids, diuretics, and other supplements that have all kinds of crap in them (herbs) and you can be in a mess.
It has nothing to do with shape, I do kickboxing and cardio 4 hours a day at least 5 days per week, eat right, don't get nearly enough sleep though, and the calf cramps would happen almost instantly when grappling, not enough to stop me, but enough to cause pain and annoy me. It seems like it's definately an electrolyte deficiency. Thanks for all the info.
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