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Ultimate Cramp Thread (cramps while performing/exerting)

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  • Ultimate Cramp Thread (cramps while performing/exerting)

    I'd like to hear from The Doctors on this one.
    I think this would be a good topic for a video or an article...... as there is much "unclear" and a lot of mumbo-jumbo out there on the subject...read on.

    I have a problem with a young athlete cramping while performing. Calf (calves) lock up. Any ideas?

    Weirdest thing: first few plays of a football game, after a long run for a TD was jumping up and down celebrating, and his calves violently seized up to the point he went down to the ground in a lot of pain.
    The cramping was so bad, he did not recover and could return to play. Tried electrolytes, pickle juice (brine), Pedialyte, stretching, massage, massage gun, etc all during the 2nd qtr., halftime, and 3rd qtr and finally conceded that he was done for the evening. Next two days: one calf was very sore, like extreme DOMS soreness almost to the point of any injury has happened. By 3rd day limited practice.

    Next week: pre-emptively had the boy drank two containers of Pedialyte throughout the day leading up to the the evening-game. The athletic trainer had him drink some pickle juice before the contest. Wife: had her special salt/electrolyte tablets she "swears by for" her marathons. Stretches through out the day. etc. Warm ups were fine. But same thing happened to a lesser degree. After the first few plays of the game his calves started to cramp a little and get tight, possibly his hamstrings a little also. Fortunately ..... he was able to stretch and massage-out the cramps 2nd qtr and halftime and played the 2nd half ..... did quite well, and had to exert himself several times (as in: absolute max speed effort sprinting chasing a breakaway runner for a TD, etc).

    Its not fatigue. Or at least acute fatigue.

    Hydration is good? We are in a very hot climate; everyone is aware of hydration and diligent in that regard. Also, I don't think they are over doing it either.

    Electrolytes? the boy had a good varied diet. Eats his veggies, etc. Also, supplements that with various drinks, etc. (Pedialyte, coconut water, bananas, magnesium and potassium pills, etc)

    He can go hard in practice without problem. Finishes 1st or 2nd in all of the conditioning drills/sprints toward the end of practice.

    I've heard the following:
    - Low potassium? = you'll cramp under exertion.
    - Low magnesium? = ususally cramps while relaxing and/or while not under exertion (random times of the day, during sleep, etc)
    - Hydrating with a ton of water? = no good; as you are just diluting your system with water if not replenishing salt/electrolytes.
    - Salt is important, and it probably the number Home thing in the way of minerals/electrolytes.

    Pickle juice? Have heard:
    - works becasue the salt in the brine.
    - works because the extreme tartness/sour sort of distracts the nervous system away from the area that is 'misfiring'.
    - works because the acid (vinegar) .... acidic state from a biochemistry standpoint helps mineral be liberated and/or used more efficacy in the body.



  • #2
    We don't think cramps are related to changes in electrolyte status or water loss during activity and doing anything that modifies those hasn't really been shown to work. Same goes for stretching. Would strongly advise against potassium sodium, or magnesium supplementation. Drinking water as desired is the recommendation. No need for special solution otherwise.

    At present, we do think it's fatigue and relatively low fitness for the task demands, which is corroborated by the story you relate here. Sounds like he pushes hard in practice and then is smoked for the game.

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