What are your thoughts on cramping? I've read everything on line and have a coach, talked a famous sports nutritionist and my dad's a retired physician and tho sis the million dollar question. Background - I'm a triathlete and Ive closely monitored my electrolytes1) Had bloodwork done recently and electrolytes, sodium, potassium seems ok (actually on the high end b/c i've been increasing my intake as an experiment)2) Drink electrolytes while racing and working out3) Take lots of salt tabs but I only weigh 106 lbs female4) Good shape and strong but possible muscle imbalance in legs 5) Cramp easily and occurs at unexpected times, e.g.) when I'm not exerting myself or early in a ride like mile 30 of a 60 mile ride or when I'm just spinning cooling down ... I have an a little suspicion that when muscles cool down, I am more susceptible to cramping6) Now my coach and I are on to "grandma" remedy such as pickle juice, turmeric, and mustard ... pheffThis cramping is going to be the death of me at my first upcoming Ironman and I just cannot figure it out. I have had cramping all my life and dad has it too after playing tennis so there is salt loss. I don't sweat a lot ... moderately and in good shape and have been training for past 6 months with 2 more to go. Any suggestions? I drink so much I have to pee in the middle of races so I'm def taking in enough fluids and electrolytes. I honestly cannot stand to take another salt tab sometimes.
started doing some weight training to improve possible muscle imbalance
Hi there. I'm happy to answer your question.
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I am an Orthopedic Surgeon and would like to help answer your questions. Please understand that the information that I provide is for educational and informational purposes and is not treatment or meant to substitute for being treated by a live physician. I get online once a day and therefore please bear with me if you post and I haven't responded yet. I will in due time. Please do not accept until you have had your question answered in a satisfactory fashion.
Chronic cramping is a tough problem, especially in a triathlete.
You are doing the right things by having your bloodwork done. That would be the first thing to do. If it is all normal then you have to look at what happens to the body during the race. If you are drinking adequate electrolytes and fluids and salt tabs then your salt homeostasis is probably adequate.
Cramping really is about inadequate strength and endurance of the muscle compared to its demands.
No one really knows the exact reason why cramping occurs. My interpretation of the science and data are that each muscle fiber has a certain capacity of energy (ATPs) and the use of that energy leaves the muscle with no energy source until the ATP gets replenished. The buildup of lactic acid from the ATP regeneration cycle is what causes cramps.
For the common person that really equates to the muscle not having enough energy and the only way to make it have more energy is to train it to be more energy efficient. This is where strength, endurance, and cross training all come in. As a triathlete you are probably doing all of this, so we have to think to a higher level here.
Muscle imbalance is a big part of the equation.
Which muscles typically cramp for you?
Quadriceps to hamstring imbalance is the most common imbalance with hamstrings being weaker than quads. This has been shown to lead to greater injuries in all sorts of sports.
I can't help but also believe that you are simply too light to be doing triathlons. A 106 pound body has only so much muscle and that muscle has a maximum capacity for efficiency. How long do you usually rest in between hard training or events?
The order of fuel processing for humans in this order is simple sugars, complex sugars, proteins, and fat. If you don't eat enough carbohydrates, the proteins will be broken down from protein sources including muscle. I believe that must contribute to muscle cramping in elite athletes such as yourself.
The percentage of your diet that should be carbohydrates should be in the 60 to 80% range for a triathlete/marathon runner.
The last thing I will mention is the use of supplements. Have you tried creatine?
Creatine has been shown to increase muscle energy store in the short term. It might be worth trying this during training to see if it relieves your cramps.
I hope some of this information has helped. I look forward to hearing from you so I can provide other input. Thanks.
Thanks. I try to make sure I get enough protein and carbs in my diet. I contacted a local nutritionist who happens to have some Olympic athletes as clients and coincidentally he hosted a talk where he shared that Creatin doesn't work (he's also a PhD chemist). I looked up Creatin on line and there seems to be some side effects that makes me nervous. Have you seen positive results from Creatin?
Hi there. Creatine is allowed by the IOC and most professional sports.
It is a substance that is normally found in the body.
Of course if you take anything in too high of a dose then it can be dangerous.
There are some side effects if you have kidney problems or you take it with caffeine. I have seen some good results. I don't recommend it to people because usually there are a lot of other things that should be tried first such as diet, weight loss, strength training and fitness. However in an elite triathlete that has exhausted everything else a lot of people would suggest that it would not hurt to give it a try.
I have seen good results but again I think it only works in some people.
I hope I have given you something to think about and have answered your question. Please keep me posted as to what actually ends up helping you out. Feel free to let me know if you want anything else addressed. Thanks.