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Why do muscles cramp when dehydrated: Water intake after dehydration makes muscles more susceptible to cramp but electrolytes reverse that effect

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13 Genius Hacks That Will Help You Drink More Water

You know you need to stay hydrated for body and mind — but why is it so important to get a certain amount?

Well, water makes up about 60 percent of the body, says New York City–based Jaclyn London, RD, head of nutrition and wellness at WW, and data from the U.S. Geological Survey, a government agency, backs that up.

Because it’s such a big part of your makeup, water is involved in a multitude of functions, says Ryan Andrews, RD, principle nutritionist and adviser at Precision Nutrition in Norwalk, Connecticut. For example, water dissolves and transports other substances around the body, assists in metabolic reactions, lubricates tissues like eyes and joints, regulates body temperature, provides minerals, and acts as a building material for cells.

So it makes sense that you need so much of it. “Without adequate hydration, you experience dehydration. It can be mild or severe, with symptoms ranging from dry mouth, headache, dizziness, and fatigue to heat stress, sunken eyes, low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and delirium,” Andrews says.

RELATED: 6 Unusual Signs of Dehydration You Should Know About

That’s the bad news — the good news is what adequate hydration can do for you. “Growing research suggests good hydration can help with everything from joint health and workout stamina to mood and mental focus,” London says. A review published in January 2019 in Nutrients outlines some of these findings. “And in practice, I’ve found that a little self-check-in of ‘have I had enough to drink today?’ can be a game changer for so many clients who are often mistaking hunger and thirst.” And that’s how drinking enough can factor into weight loss goals.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends that men consume 125 ounces of total fluid from beverages and food, and that women consume 91 ounces of fluid. That fluid can come from beverages including water, as well as water-rich foods like produce. However, the reality is we’re skimping on plain water. “The fluids we consume have really become a vehicle for other ingredients, like sugar and caffeine,” Andrews says. And that, unfortunately, can make plain water seem, well, too plain.

Add that to a busy lifestyle and you may forget — or not be motivated — to drink h3O. It’s like when you’ve had a nonstop day and realize in the evening that you drank barely a cup, London says. “This is especially true now that routines have been upended and our homes have become de facto schools, workplaces, and gyms. It can be so easy to get caught up in daily life and responsibilities and neglect hydration,” she adds.

RELATED: 53 Self-Care Tips for Taking Care of You During the Coronavirus Pandemic

There’s even a type of water drinker called a “low drinker”: a healthy adult who has adequate water access but who doesn’t habitually drink enough, notes an article published in June 2019 in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism. These people aren’t dehydrated, but their bodies are actively preserving the water they do have by suppressing normal functions like urination. They also aren’t extra thirsty, so they don’t have that internal cue to drink more water. If that’s you, you might need a little help.

Luckily, there are numerous options to help you meet your water quota, from hydration trackers and smart water bottles that connect to and monitor consumption to bottles that infuse flavors into your water and handy apps. Of course, you don’t need all of them. Andrews suggests exploring those that interest you and trying the one that fits easiest into your life.

Here are 13 great, innovative options at a variety of price points that make such a basic task — drinking water — doable and a bit more fun.

1. h3OPal Converts Most Bottles Into a Smart Water Bottle

The benefit of tracking your intake is that you’ll know if you’re falling short and can adjust accordingly earlier in the day, rather than feeling pressured to glug a bunch of water that night. h3OPal is a smart hydration-tracking device that comes with a water bottle. You can also take off the tracker at the base and attach it to a water bottle you already have (as long as the base is about three inches), boosting its versatility. This will monitor how much you drink and reminds you when to take a sip through the app.

Buy h3OPal, $99, h3OPal.com.

RELATED: 6 Smart Tips for Staying Hydrated Throughout the Day

2. HidrateSpark STEEL Keeps Drinks Cold and You On Track

Are You Dehydrated? 6 Signs You May Need To Drink Up | Methodist Health System

  • Six to eight glasses
  • Half your body weight in ounces
  • At least two liters (including what’s in your food)

These rules of thumb aren’t bad or wrong, but they are just that: guidelines. There is no set amount for every single body. What keeps you hydrated may not be enough for me.

So how can you tell if you’re adequately hydrated or need to up the ounces? Listen to your body.
 

What Dehydration Looks and Feels Like

Proper hydration is essential for your body to function best. Fluids help preserve and provide nutrients to the brain, kidney, liver and heart.

While adequate hydration comes with no signs or symptoms, you can likely assume you’re hydrated if things are functioning properly and you feel well on a consistent basis.

If you’re not properly hydrated, however, your body will let you know.

Here are some signs and symptoms of dehydration:
 

Headache

When our bodies are dehydrated, they experience a decrease in blood volume. And when our brains aren’t getting enough blood flow, headaches can occur.

Dehydration headaches can be mild or severe. They can be felt in one specific area of the head or all over, and they usually get worse with movement. Some migraine sufferers even report dehydration as a trigger for their attacks.

 

Muscle Cramps and Aches

Cramping isn’t just an athlete’s problem, but exercise can contribute to dehydration, which is a common cause of muscle cramps.

Our muscles require plenty of water and electrolytes to do what we ask of them. Without enough fluid, our muscles can become extremely sensitive and spasm or contract involuntarily.

We need water to flush our bodies of cellular waste. A buildup of toxins can lead to inflammation, which often results in pain. Water, which helps lubricate our joints, can also help ward off joint pain and discomfort.
 

Dry Mouth and Bad Breath

A glass of water may provide instant relief for a dry mouth and throat, but consistent hydration helps ensure that the mouth always produces enough saliva.

Saliva is vital in keeping the growth of bacteria in the mouth at bay. An overgrowth can lead to bad breath and tooth decay.

 

Lack of Urine Output

Most adults produce at least two cups of urine a day. Urination is critical in helping our bodies get rid of waste and toxins.

Decreased urine output can cause a number of complications, including infection. If you’re urinating less than three or four times a day, you may be dehydrated.

Dark, concentrated urine is often another sign of dehydration, and that can eventually cause kidney stones.

Inability To Sweat

Sweating is the body’s way of cooling itself. Without perspiration, the body can overheat.

Heatstroke is a serious, sometimes fatal condition that can occur when our bodies reach a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Just Feeling Off

The majority of the brain is composed of water, and without enough of it, the brain’s energy supply can dip. Dehydration can lead to fatigue, lethargy, mood swings and even depression.

Difficulty concentrating at work or school can also be the result of even slight dehydration.

When in Doubt, Take a Sip

When it comes to how much water you need and how often you need it, there are several variables involved. They include:

  • Temperature and climate
  • Illness
  • Exercise
  • Body strength and size

Those who are ill, small or frail; those who live in warmer climates; and those who exercise often generally have greater hydration needs. But everyone really ought to make it a priority.

Just as you may carry a phone with you wherever you go, get in the habit of carrying a water bottle – and refill it as needed. Spread hydration out slowly over the course of the day. And when in doubt, take a sip! Many people are often surprised at how many issues and ailments can be remedied by simply improving their hydration levels.

Dehydration Doesn’t Cause Muscle Cramps?

The standard theory: muscle cramps are caused by loss of fluids and electrolytes, which alters fluid balance in the body and increases the excitability of nerves.

The “new” theory: muscles cramps result from “altered neuromuscular control,” which can be triggered by a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, damaged or fatigued muscles, starting too fast, and not tapering enough — none of which have anything to do with hydration or electrolytes.

So how do we tell which theory is right? The problem with most studies is that you can’t separate the intensity of exercise from the degree of dehydration. But there has been a new approach over the past few years: triggering muscle cramps by applying a voltage to the muscle. You start by (in the experiment I’m about to describe) applying 80 volts at a frequency of 4 Hz. If nothing happens, you ramp the frequency up 2 Hz at a time until the muscle cramps. Studies have found that the lower the frequency at which you cramp, the more susceptible you are to suffering from cramps during sports.

A few years ago, researchers at North Dakota State University published a study showing that dehydrating subjects by 3% of their initial body weight didn’t change their susceptibility to muscle cramps (as measured by threshold frequency). Now, in a new British Journal of Sports Medicine study, they’ve extended those results to a greater degree of dehydration: their 10 subjects reached an average dehydration of 4.7% (greater than 3% is “significant” dehydration, while greater than 5% is “serious”) after almost four hours of exercise in very hot conditions. Crucially, they exercised only with their non-dominant limbs, while the cramp testing was performed on their dominant leg, so that muscle fatigue/damage could be eliminated as a triggering factor.

The result: no difference in cramp susceptibility or intensity, despite an extreme dehydration protocol that saw them lose about 4 g of sodium! The researchers conclude that their data supports the “altered neuromuscular control” theory. Of course, electrically stimulated cramps aren’t exactly the same thing as mid-race cramps, so the case isn’t closed by any means. Still, just in case they’re right, it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the other risk factors that researchers have identified (as I mentioned above), just in case one of them applies to you.

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Muscle cramp? Drink electrolytes, not water, study shows — ScienceDaily

If you reach for water when a muscle cramp strikes, you might want to think again. New research from Edith Cowan University (ECU) has revealed drinking electrolytes instead of pure water can help prevent muscle cramps.

The study, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, found that people who drank electrolyte enhanced water during and after exercise were less susceptible to muscle cramps than those who drank pure water.

Muscle cramps are a common painful condition affecting many people, including around 39 per cent of marathon runners, 52 per cent of rugby players and 60 per cent of cyclists.

Dilution solution

Lead researcher Professor Ken Nosaka, from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences, said the study builds on the evidence that a lack of electrolytes contributes to muscle cramps, not dehydration.

“Many people think dehydration causes muscle cramps and will drink pure water while exercising to prevent cramping,” he said.

“We found that people who solely drink plain water before and after exercise could in fact be making them more prone to cramps.

“This is likely because pure water dilutes the electrolyte concentration in our bodies and doesn’t replace what is lost during sweating.”

When cramp strikes

Professor Nosaka began researching the causes of muscle cramps after regularly suffering from them while playing tennis.

The study involved 10 men who ran on a downhill treadmill in a hot (35ºC) room for 40 to 60 minutes to lose 1.5 to 2 per cent of their body weight through sweat in two conditions.

They drank plain water during and after exercise for one condition and took a water solution containing electrolytes in the other condition.

The participants were given an electrical stimulation on their calves to induce muscle cramp. The lower the frequency of the electrical stimulation required, the more the participant is prone to muscle cramp.

“We found that the electrical frequency required to induce cramp increased when people drank the electrolyte water, but decreased when they consumed plain water,” said Professor Nosaka.

“This indicates that muscles become more prone to cramp by drinking plain water, but more immune to muscle cramp by drinking the electrolyte water.”

Not all water is equal

Electrolytes are minerals including sodium, potassium, magnesium and chloride. They are essential for muscle health and help the body to absorb water.

Oral rehydration solutions contain electrolytes in specific proportions and can be made with water, salt and sugar. They are commonly found in supermarkets and pharmacies.

Professor Nosaka said electrolytes have many benefits for both athletes and the general population.

“Electrolytes are vital to good health — they help the body to absorb water more effectively than plain water and replace essential minerals lost through sweat or illness,” he said.

“People should consider drinking oral rehydration fluids instead of plain water during moderate to intense exercise, when it’s very hot or when you are sick from diarrhoea or vomiting.”

Professor Nosaka is planning further research to find out the optimal amount of electrolytes to prevent muscle cramps as well as how they could help the elderly and pregnant women.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Edith Cowan University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Why do athletes suffer from cramp? How to get rid of cramp? by Precision Hydration

The causes of muscle cramp in athletes remain a contentious issue in the scientific world. We’ve taken a look at the competing theories of cramp, the major studies and detailed the methods that can help alleviate the symptoms of cramp…

Contents:

Definition of muscle cramp

I have a strong personal interest in the subject of Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC) because I used to be a chronic sufferer back when I was competing.  

For as long as I can remember I seem to have been especially susceptible to ‘sudden, involuntary, spasmodic contractions’ of selected my muscles – to borrow a phrase from the dictionary definition – to the point where cramps ruined numerous important races for me.

I’ve also been plagued with horrible contractions in my legs that have woken me up during the night after hard training sessions, and on one memorable occasion cramp even cost me a Chicken Tikka Masala when an extremely violent hamstring spasm made me kick over my table during a quiet meal after a race.

Despite the fact that muscle cramps are a very common phenomenon and that they have been widely studied, no-one really knows the full story about cramp yet.

In spite of this, over the last ten years or so I seem to have largely got on top of my issues with cramp. This has come through modifying my behaviour, diet and expectations of my body based on what I’ve learned through a combination of reading and personal experimentation.  

So, if you’re a fellow cramper, there may be hope. Here are some of the things I’ve picked up along the way in case they help you win your own war on cramp. If you want to skip past the science to the potential solutions, just click here (I won’t hold it against you).

What causes exercise associated cramps?

In the research world there are essentially two competing theories of what causes Exercise Associated Muscle Cramp…

Image credit: Desiree N. Palacios via JBSA©.

The ‘Dehydration/Electrolyte Theory’

This theory is probably the oldest. It speculates that a significant disturbance in fluid or electrolyte balance, usually due to a reduction in total body exchangeable sodium stores, causes a contraction of the interstitial fluid compartment around muscles and a misfiring of nerve impulses, leading to cramp.

In simpler terms, if you lose a lot of sodium and don’t replace it (as is common when you sweat a lot) it can cause fluid shifts in the body that in turn causes cramps.

This theory is predominantly based on plenty of case studies, observational data, anecdote and expert opinion (what scientists call ‘level 4 and 5 evidence’). So, although there’s a decent amount of circumstantial weight behind it, it lacks the more “concrete proof” of data from large scale randomised controlled trials (RCTs) which is rightly considered necessary by proponents of evidence-based practice for it to be widely accepted as anything approaching ‘fact’.

The ‘Neuromuscular Theory’

This theory is more recent and proposes that muscle overload and neuromuscular fatigue are the root causes of Exercise Associated Muscle Cramp. The hypothesis is that fatigue contributes to an imbalance between excitatory impulses from muscle spindles and inhibitory impulses from Golgi tendon organs, and that this results in a localised muscle cramp. 

In other words, muscles tend to cramp specifically when they are overworked and fatigued due to electrical misfiring.

This theory is much better suited to being tested in a lab (where researchers can ‘excite’ muscles with electrical stimuli and provoke muscle cramps to measure what is happening at an electrical level) and so there’s arguably more robust data to support it than is the case for the Dehydration/Electrolyte depletion model (although a recent lab-based study has looked at the effects of electrolyte intake on cramping threshold). It’s probably also fair to say that, in certain circles at least, this theory is gaining widespread popularity at the moment.

One big factor that does appear to support the neuromuscular theory is that stopping and stretching affected muscles is a pretty universally effective method to fix a cramp when it is actually happening. What stretching does is put the muscle under tension invoking afferent activity from the Golgi Tendon Organs (part of the muscle responsible for telling it to relax) and causing the cramp to dissipate.

Scientific studies of cramp

Studies in this area that looked at the general electrical activity of muscles (EMG) have also shown increased baseline levels of excitatory activity in fatigued muscles right between bouts of cramping – as if the muscles are firing away more excitedly than they should and ‘close’ to cramping even when they are not. Again this tends to support the conclusion that fatigue is somehow causing problems for the muscle to relax so are often cited to back up this theory.

Field studies that have failed to find major differences in the blood electrolyte profiles of athletes getting cramps during events like triathlons and marathons are often cited to dismiss the dehydration/electrolyte theory. This is essentially saying that if there’s no difference in blood electrolyte levels between crampers and non-crampers then it cannot be an influencing factor.

Unfortunately what these studies tend to overlook is the fact that blood electrolyte levels can be quite stable in athletes in the face of vastly different levels of total sweat and sodium loss.

This is because the body tends to protect sodium concentration in the blood at the expense of blood volume when sweat losses are high, so seeing similar blood sodium concentrations in crampers and non-crampers is not necessarily indicative of anything and could even be a bit misleading in the context of the bigger picture. 

In fact in one of the major studies often cited in this area researchers did find that crampers ended an ultra marathon race with statistically lower serum sodium values than non-crampers, but they deemed the difference ‘not clinically significant’ even if it was statistically different…and I think that this evidence can be viewed in different ways, depending on your predisposition!

At this point it’s important to steer your thinking away from this being a binary – ‘one or the other’ – argument between two competing ideas, even though this is how the topic of cramping is commonly presented in both the scientific and mass media.  

As no-one definitively knows what’s going on with muscle cramps yet, focusing on a polarised argument between two incomplete theories is a lot less productive than looking at the bigger picture and considering the merits of both theories and the actionable advice they have to offer.

Image credit: Pexels (copyright free).

The historical view of cramp

Back in the early 1900s cramp was more commonly viewed as a productivity issue for manual labourers doing hard physical work in hot environments, rather than not as an inconvenience to athletes.

Between the 1920s and 1950s there were numerous documented cases of miners, construction workers, stokers, foundry workers and military personnel all suffering muscle cramps in hot conditions. Instances were usually associated with high sweat losses and sometimes with consumption of large quantities of water at the same time.

Different groups of doctors and researchers took notes on numerous case studies around this time and some conducted rudimentary field tests. Whilst it’s fair to say that the research efforts were not anywhere near as rigorously structured as modern clinical trials, they did elicit a pretty universal consensus. That was that providing workers with adequate sodium chloride (salt) along with drinking water to help them replace what was being sweated out was quite effective in treating or preventing many cases of cramps.

The general feeling at the time is neatly summed up in the conclusion of a 1945 paper entitled ‘The Therapeutic use of Sodium Chloride in Industry’ in the British Journal of Industrial Medicine…

“Excessive sweat is accompanied by abnormal loss of sodium chloride through the skin. Fluid replacement is necessary and should include sufficient sodium chloride, otherwise the individual will suffer from fatigue, cramp, or collapse…A suitable preparation of sodium chloride in tablet form is described…After extensive trial this has proved satisfactory in the prevention of fatigue and other symptoms due to excessive heat.

It was this kind of work that inevitably shaped our early understanding of EAMC in relation to athletes.

These days it’s become quite fashionable for commentators seeking to ‘disprove’ the Dehydration/Electrolyte theory of EAMC to play down this early work in industrial medicine around salt and cramping as dated, flimsy and insignificant. This is especially true for staunch supporters of the neuromuscular theory. However, having read (and re-read) most of the work available from the era, I’m far from convinced that it deserves to be so easily dismissed.

I actually feel that playing it down as ‘old hat’ is perhaps just a convenient (or even slightly lazy) way of dealing with evidence that is otherwise incongruent with a more contemporary – but not necessarily more correct – way of thinking.

In addition to the early work on industrial workers, there are a few other perspectives on electrolyte balance and cramping that are worth highlighting here too. These, in their own way, add some credence to the idea that it’s still relevant…

The Salt Deprivation Study

The first is a classic study on salt depletion that was carried out by a pioneering doctor – R.A McCance – in the 1930s. McCance was a hands on type of researcher and was intrigued by the question of what would happen to the human body if it was depleted of salt but not fluid (numerous studies into dehydration had already been undertaken by then). He organised a study using himself and a couple of colleagues as test subjects.

Essentially what McCance and his co-workers did was subject themselves to an incredibly low salt diet. Along with their salt-free food, the subjects drank plenty of water and took hot baths to increase sweat output and accelerate salt loss. They found that when salt depletion started to kick in it quickly led to…

 “…aberrations of flavour, cramps, weakness, lassitude, and severe cardio-respiratory distress on exertion.

Interestingly, as soon as the test subjects reintroduced salt into their systems (eating bacon and drinking the fat from the pan I might add) their recovery from symptoms – including the absence of further cramping – was ‘dramatic’ with effects being felt within 15 minutes of ingestion of the salty meal.

This experience in particular – cramps disappearing soon after salt ingestion – is completely consistent with my own experiences in very long and hot triathlons when I had become salt depleted due to heavy sweating, so it definitely struck a chord with me when I first read it.

It’s also congruent with lots of other anecdotal evidence coming from athletes who train or compete in similar conditions of heavy sweat loss, but more on that later.

Image credit: Quang Nguyen Ven via Pexels (copyright free).

Hyponatremia and cramp

Another notable example of electrolyte disturbance associated with cramping can be found in case reports of people suffering with hyponatremia, especially when this occurs around exercise.

Hyponatremia is a condition where blood sodium levels fall lower than they should be due to dilution by over-consumption of water, excessive loss of sodium from the body, or both together as is common amongst athletes.

Cramping is often listed as a general symptom of hyponatremia in medical texts and there are case study reports in the literature such as one involving a UK serviceman who suffered cramps and collapsed whilst running in the heat in Saudi Arabia in 1991. He was successfully treated with intravenous saline (salt) solution and made a full recovery in the short term, but was later found out to have undiagnosed Cystic Fibrosis (CF) – a condition in which sufferers lose very large amounts of salt in their sweat.

It seems likely that this high rate of salt loss could have pre-disposed him to losing more salt than others doing the same exercise (who did not cramp and collapse) and contributed to him suffered the cramps and fatigue on more than one occasion when exercising in hot conditions.

Aside from this individual case it’s well known that CF sufferers can struggle with exercise in the heat, at least in part due to their elevated levels of salt and fluid loss through very salty sweating.

Athletic case studies and cramp anecdotes from the real world

There are a large number of case studies, observations and anecdotal reports from athletes whose cramping problems seem to be directly related to times when fluid and sodium balance are significantly disrupted due to heavy sweating.

For example, in 1996 Dr Michael Bergeron documented a case study (in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism) of a tennis player who often suffered with cramps during tournaments. Having ascertained that this player had a high sweat rate and was calculated to be unlikely to be replacing his sodium losses via his normal diet, he was prescribed an increased salt intake. The conclusion of the study was that…

“[The Player] was ultimately able to eliminate heat cramps during competition and training by increasing his daily dietary intake of sodium.

In 2020, a study of a 17-year-old American Football player with a history of Cystic Fibrosis and hyponatremic seizure emphasised the importance of planning nutrition and hydration. The player had previously struggled with severe muscle cramping issues during his previous two seasons, but he got through an entire season with minimal cramp symptoms after establishing an appropriate electrolyte replacement and hydration plan.

At Precision Hydration we carry out an Annual Cramp Survey survey of athletes who had reported that they had suffered with muscle cramps at one time or another. Of the survey respondents many said that they had found that supplementing with sodium or salt during exercise had helped them manage or eliminate EAMCs.

As alluded to earlier, I also personally suffered through many long and hot triathlon races with debilitating cramps slowing me down during the run leg, or kicking in post race. 

Through simple trial and error I gradually learned to consume plenty of sodium before the race and during the bike section (usually in the form of salt capsules) and found this to be extremely effective at not only reducing my cramping symptoms dramatically, but also helping overall performance in the latter stages of events.

Subsequently I also learned that I lose very large amounts of sodium in my sweat (approaching the levels that some Cystic Fibrosis sufferers lose) and that this is likely to have contributed to my issues.

Whilst I could go on with more of these kind of examples from different sports and athletes it’s probably better to stop at this point and move on at the risk of getting repetitive. The bottom line is that there are a lot of examples out in the real world of people losing a lot of salt (often via sweating) and suffering cramps as a result and that, very often, increasing their intake of salt (or sodium in other forms) seems to provide relief, or even prevents cramps from happening in the first place.

Of course, the big problem with case studies, observations and anecdote is that they can fail to paint a truly complete picture of what is really going on, because they can be influenced by bias, lack control groups and can fail to account for the placebo effect. 

It has also been pointed out that not all cramps can be traced back to sodium loss (think about cramps that occur in cool conditions or at times when sweat losses are not significant) and that not all cramps respond to increased sodium intake. This is one big reason that the Neuromuscular Theory has been developed to try to fill in the gaps where sodium loss does not provide an adequate explanation for what is likely to be going on.

How to alleviate the symptoms of cramp

One thing that makes cramping so difficult to understand is that it remains a stubbornly fickle and unpredictable phenomenon to pin down and study properly. This is one reason why evidence for both the Dehydration/Electrolyte theory and the Neuromuscular theory is often not as robust as it could be.

A 2019 review paper argues that there’s no definitive cause of cramp, but rather different causes for different types of cramp. The authors suggest it isn’t necessary to know the cause to find a treatment and maybe more time and energy needs to be spent trying to treat / prevent cramp.

Although I tended to cramp a lot when I was competing, especially in longer and hotter races, it didn’t happen every single race and it was relatively rare that it would occur in training. And this is the case for a lot of other athletes; cramps happen from time to time, but not all the time – so zeroing in on causative factors and cures can be tricky.

The bottom line appears to be that muscle cramps are likely to have multiple causes including, but not limited to, electrolyte imbalances and neuromuscular fatigue and that, as a result, it’s likely that multiple interventions are likely to be needed to try to eliminate these ‘different flavours’ of cramp. At Precision Hydration we surveyed hundreds of athletes who reported suffering from cramp and more than 85%of them had tried more than one method in an attempt to alleviate the issue.

Does pickle juice fix cramp?

In the last five years or so (and somewhat connected with the rise of the neuromuscular theory) there has been a lot of interest in the use of compounds that can stimulate something in the mouth called ‘transient receptor potential (TRP) channels’ and the possible effects these might have on cramping muscles.

TRP channels connect the mouth into the central nervous system and the hypothesis is that stimulating these receptors somehow causes a ‘jolt’ reaction down the nerves that disrupts the signals that are causing a cramp.

Substances that stimulate TRP channels are things like wasabi, mustard oil and other pungent spices and it’s thought that this is where the idea of using pickle juice to cure muscle cramps (a common practice in the USA in particular) comes from. Pickle juice contains acetic acid and it’s believed to be this (rather than the high levels of sodium in it) that stimulate the TRP receptors and help relieve cramps.

This would explain why cramps have sometimes been shown to be relieved almost instantly when pickle juice is ingested (the nerve stimulation happens almost instantly, whereas the sodium in it takes several minutes to travel to the gut and to be absorbed into the blood). It’s also consistent with the the general idea that the root cause of some cramp is found in the nervous system rather than solely an electrolyte imbalance.  

There is no ‘magic bullet’ available to kill off muscle cramping at the moment and it doesn’t look like there will be one coming anytime soon.

However, if you’re not inclined to sit around twiddling your thumbs waiting for science to deliver in it’s own sweet time, there are a few things you might want to try if you are a cramper and want to try to get on top of the issue…

Increase your sodium intake

Based on my own experiences and the historical evidence I absolutely think it’s worth looking at your sodium intake in relation to your sweat output. It’s a cheap and simple exercise and has little downside to it. It’s certainly a good idea if your cramps tend to occur during or after periods of heavy sweating, in hot weather, late on during longer activities or if you generally eat a low sodium (or low carb) diet.

One note of caution however; if you do take on additional sodium, especially in the form of electrolyte drinks, make sure they are strong enough to make a real difference. Most sports drinks are extremely light on electrolytes (despite the claims they make on their labels), containing only about 300-500mg sodium per litre (32oz). 

Human sweat, on average, comes in at over 900mg of sodium per litre (32oz), and at Precision Hydration we often measure athletes losing over 1500mg per litre (including myself) through our Advanced Sweat Test. It’s therefore a good idea to look for upwards of 1000mg sodium per litre in a drink and over 1500mg per litre if you suspect you are a particularly ‘salty sweater’. A good way to see where this should fit in to the rest of your hydration strategy is by taking this free online Sweat Test.

If you’re consuming salt or sodium separate to your fluids, in foods or capsule form, aim for a similar ratio (i.e. 1000-1500mg sodium along with each litre of water you drink) and remember that table salt (NaCl) is only 39% sodium (the other 61% is chloride), so you need ~3g of salt to give you ~1170mg of sodium.

Take the extra sodium in the hours immediately before and during activities that normally result in cramping and see how you get on (there’s a specific protocol laid out in this blog I wrote about how to start hydrated). You’ll know pretty quickly if this is effective or not, and can fine tune your dosage to balance cramp prevention with keeping your stomach happy over time (really excessive salt or sodium intake can cause nausea).

When I first started taking in additional sodium before and during long, hot triathlon races the effect was immediate and dramatic. I went from cramping up almost every time, to almost never having problems again. I ended up settling on a regime of consuming around 1000-1500mg of sodium per hour during long races (I lose a lot of salt in my sweat, 1,842mg/l in fact) and also found that taking this amount eliminated post-race cramping almost entirely as well.

Reduce fatigue

Because it seems highly likely that fatigue is also implicated in cramping, finding ways to minimise this is also logical. As obvious as many of them may sound try to make sure you tick all of the following boxes to ensure you’re not overloading your body excessively…

  • Train specifically for the event(s) that tend to induce cramps – i. e. with the right mix of volume and intensity to prepare your muscles for what is going to be asked of them.
  • Pace yourself appropriately based on fitness levels and environmental conditions to avoid overloading muscles prematurely.
  • Taper into events so that you are fresh and well rested when you start.
  • Make sure you’re adequately fuelled with plenty of carbohydrates on board before you start events and that you fuel adequately to avoid becoming glycogen depleted which can contribute to premature fatigue.
Other strategies

Other strategies that are far from proven, but that either make intuitive sense or have been used by athletes in the war on cramp include…

  • Sports massage and stretching of the affected muscles.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Thorough warm ups prior to cramp inducing activities.
  • Mental relaxation techniques.

Although none of these are likely to offer a complete solution they are generally accessible, inexpensive and may even benefit performance in other ways, so there would seem to be little downside to giving them a try.

Hopefully this overview of the major theories on what causes Exercise Associated Muscle Cramp have left you feeling better equipped to fight your own war on cramp.

For those who are interested, there’s another great summary of the topic you can delve into here.

Further Reading

Nine Signs of Dehydration

Our bodies are made up of 50-75% water, so it makes sense that we need to replenish the water that’s lost. When we fail to do that, whether it’s because of sweating, overexertion, hot weather or just not enough water, we can begin to feel sluggish and weak—or worse. Here are nine signs that your body may be experiencing dehydration.

Fatigue

When your body is experiencing dehydration, your blood pressure drops. This is because there is a lack of water and oxygen in the blood. As a result, the heart has to work harder in order to supply the skin and muscles with oxygen and nutrients. Nearly all body functions need fluid as fuel, and even small changes with fluid balance can affect our fatigue levels. If dehydration progresses, the body redirects blood to the working muscles and away from the skin, impairing your body’s ability to diffuse heat, which will then cause fatigue.

Urine is Dark in Color

Dark yellow urine is one of the first signs of dehydration. This typically occurs when blood pressure levels fall and the kidneys attempt to store water instead of expel it from the body. If you’re ever worried about dehydration due to dark colored urine, don’t down a lot of water to replenish your body as it can make you sick. Instead, slowly add water back to your body to prevent dehydration.

Keep in mind that urine can change in color due a variety of reasons, including certain foods you’ve eaten or medication you’ve taken.

Lightheaded

When your blood pressure drops due to dehydration, a feeling of dizziness or a loss of vision can follow if you stand up too quickly. As dehydration sets in, you may notice your heartbeat and breathing becoming more rapid. You may feel like you can’t catch your breath, and you may feel tired and weak. In advanced cases of dehydration, you may become delirious and even lose consciousness.

Fast Heart Rate

Dehydration often causes electrolyte levels to decrease, which can lead to an increased heart rate and heart palpitations. As blood pressure drops, breathing and heart rate will increase. If you suspect dehydration, you can manually take your pulse and blood pressure reading lying down and again standing up. Take it for one minute each time as blood pressure will naturally drop a few seconds if you go from laying down to standing. Inadequate fluid in the blood will cause dehydration, quickening the heart rate and causing dizziness as inadequate blood is flowing to the brain.

Overheating

Fluid levels within the body keep our temperatures regulated so we don’t become overheated. If you are overheated due to physical exertion, you may become dehydrated due to fluid loss due to excessive perspiration. You can also suffer fluid loss from being too hot outside. Make sure to always bring water with you if you plan to exercise in a hot environment.

Muscles Cramp Easily

When electrolytes such as sodium and potassium are low, it can cause muscle spasms. A muscle cramp or spasm occurs when a muscle can’t relax. We’re used to contracting and controlling our muscles voluntarily, but muscles can contract or spasm completely involuntarily if we are dehydrated. 

Dehydration can cause muscles to go from experiencing annoying muscle spasms to painful muscle cramps. This occurs when muscles contract and harden for a period of time that can last between a few seconds to hours. Muscle cramping with dehydration often occurs in the abdominal muscles or a calf muscle. Hydrating can ease the pain and prevent continued cramping.

Skin Loses Elasticity

To check on your dehydration levels, perform a quick “pinch test”. You can do this by pinching your skin on the back of your hand and seeing how long it takes to lie flat again. Your skin should snap back rapidly. If your skin maintains it’s pinched shape for a few seconds and drops slowly, you may be dehydrated.

Crying Doesn’t Produce Tears

If you’re crying and stop producing tears it’s a good cue that you’re dehydrated. Along with the absence of tears, dehydration may cause the eyes to appear sunken into your head. The absence of urination is also a sign of dehydration.

Excessive Thirst

Dehydration can cause excessive thirst and a lack of moisture in the mucous membranes such as your mouth, throat or tongue. Your tongue can even swell in cases of extreme dehydration.

However, if you wait to drink until you feel thirsty, you may already be slightly dehydrated. Thirst can send confusing signals to the body and brain, such as mistaking hunger for thirst. However, “dry mouth,” which is a dry, parched, thick feeling in the mouth can signal a more advanced stage of dehydration.

Dehydration can cause major medical issues and leave you bedridden for days. Always be sure to drink plenty of water, especially when exercising or staying outdoors in the heat. If you suspect dehydration, call your doctor as soon as possible.

Muscle Cramps and Leg Pain – Consumer Health News

Muscle cramps are a common ailment, especially in the legs and feet. Since muscle cramps are sometimes caused by dehydration (loss of water) and low levels of potassium, they frequently strike in hot weather, when your body loses water, salt, and minerals through sweating. Drinking plenty of water and eating foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, may help to ward off cramps.

You can also get a cramp while exercising, particularly if you overexert yourself. (This is why athletes are more prone to muscle cramps early in the season, before their bodies are at peak condition.) But cramps can even occur when you’re sleeping.

Older people are more susceptible to muscle cramps due to the natural muscle loss that begins in our mid-40s. We also tend to be less active as we get older, and our bodies are less sensitive to thirst and more susceptible to dehydration, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). According to the AAOS, because we lose muscle mass as we age, our muscles can’t work as hard or eliminate waste as quickly as they used to, resulting in more frequent cramping.

Most muscle cramps don’t last very long, though some can go on for 15 minutes or longer. If you do get muscle cramps, a few simple tips can ease the pain and loosen the cramp.

What to do

  • Gently massage the cramped muscle.
  • Stretch the cramped muscle. If the cramp is in your calf muscle, bring your foot up toward your shin. If the cramp is in the front of your thigh, bend your knee and pull your foot toward your buttocks. Hold the stretch until the cramp subsides.
  • Drink water or a sports drink.
  • For tight, rigid muscles, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends applying heat. For muscles that are tender or sore, which may be inflamed, applying ice may help.

Muscle cramps while swimming

It’s a myth that eating before swimming will give you muscle cramps. Still, cramps in the water aren’t uncommon. If you get a cramp, try to stretch out the affected muscle while floating in the water. If the cramp is in your calf muscle, for example, flex your foot up, toes toward your shin. Once the cramp relaxes, swim to shore. If possible, use a different stroke than the one you were using when the cramp appeared, to avoid causing another. If you become exhausted, don’t panic. Relax and float on your back until you regain your strength. (You can also float on your stomach and massage the cramp if necessary.)

As a precaution, don’t swim alone if you are not a good swimmer, or if you don’t think you could easily make it to shore if you got a muscle cramp.

Dealing with shin splints

Shin splints — pain in the front of the lower legs — may occur after a downhill hike or when you begin an exercise regimen more strenuous than your previous activity. They can also happen to people who run or hike long distances regularly because long periods of heavy exertion causes inflammation in the membrane that attaches muscles to your tibia, causing excruciating pain with each step.

For shin splints, apply an ice pack for 15 minutes. If the shin is still painful, consider taking aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. If the shin splint occurred after a bout of strenuous exercise, give the muscles a chance to rest by taking a little time off from intense exercise, then gradually return to your former level of activity.

How to avoid exercise-related leg cramps and pain

  • Warm up and stretch before any activity, and cool down with slow exercise and some stretches afterward.
  • Drink plenty of water before and after exercise, especially when it’s hot and humid. Remember to drink water before you feel thirsty and drink more than you need to quench your thirst.
  • Get plenty of potassium in your diet. Good sources include bananas, orange juice, and potatoes.
  • If you tend to get cramps at night, take a warm bath before going to bed. The heat helps loosen tight muscles.
  • Improve your overall fitness and flexibility. This can help prevent future cramping.

When to seek medical care

Sometimes leg pain can be a sign of medical conditions that require a doctor’s attention. Such conditions include arthritis, sciatica (inflammation of the nerve that runs down the back of the leg), phlebitis (inflammation of veins in the legs), or peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that results in poor circulation in the legs.

Severe leg pain, swelling, and tenderness after an injury can also be a sign of bone fracture. Aching or itching in the legs maybe a symptom of varicose veins, those prominent blue or purple veins on the legs or ankles. If you have the following symptoms, call your doctor:

  • Persistent pain in your leg
  • Visible redness, a feeling of heat, or pain along the course of a vein in your leg
  • Swelling in one leg
  • Numbness, cold, or unusual color in one leg
  • Repeated cramps or leg pain even after mild exercise such as walking

If you experience repeated cramps or chronic leg pain, you should talk with your doctor, whether your leg pain happens while resting, exercising, or in bed.

References

American Medical Association. Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care.

The American Red Cross First Aid & Safety Handbook.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Muscle Cramp.

Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Potassium in diet.

Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Leg pain.

Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Broken bone.

MayoClinic.com. Varicose Veins.

MayoClinic.com. Thrombophlebitis.

Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. Numbness and tingling.

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service. General Water Safety.

Where do seizures come from and what to do with them

What are seizures

A seizure is a sudden and most often involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. Usually the legs cramp: the muscles of the back of the calf, as well as the front and back of the thigh, are affected. But the muscles of the arms, wrists, abdominal wall, and shoulder girdle are not insured either.

In most cases, doctors consider this condition, although painful, but harmless. Especially if the muscle spasm is of a one-time nature and does not last long.However, there are combinations of symptoms that require an urgent visit to the doctor.

But first, let’s look at the most common causes of seizures.

Why there are convulsions

Where muscle spasm comes from is not completely clear to science. Often the cause is never established (however, if the convulsion is one-time, we don’t really try).

But there are situations that often precede a spasm. Here are seven of the most common causes of 90,015 seizures.

1.Muscle strain

Often, spasms are the result of an overly energetic approach to equipment in the gym. The resulting sprains and other microtraumas during the healing process can be accompanied by not only pain (dizziness), but also muscle cramps.

2. Circulatory disorders

A classic example is tunnel syndrome. This is the scourge of those who spend too much time with a computer mouse in hand. Due to the constant, fixed and unnatural position of the wrist, blood circulation in the muscles is impaired.The consequence of this can be both pain and muscle weakness, and cramps.

A couple more common special cases:

  • Uncomfortable shoes . Shoes with unusually high heels, uncomfortable last, flip flops, which have to be held on the foot, tucking the toes. The muscles become so accustomed to the unnatural tension that then, when you finally get rid of the “Spanish boot”, they cannot relax, they are cramped.
  • Uncomfortable sleeping position .Sore arms, legs, neck – all this is also a sign of circulatory disorders and can provoke 90,015 seizures at night.

3. Overheating and / or dehydration

It doesn’t matter what exactly causes the overheating: summer heat, intense physical activity or, let’s say, high temperature due to infections. The main thing is that along with the sweat released, the body loses not only moisture, but also electrolytes, which are necessary for the correct transmission of nerve impulses. Muscles react to this, including cramps.

4. Mineral depletion

Lack of potassium, calcium or magnesium can prevent muscles from relaxing. And this leads to seizures.

5. Nervous strain or neurological disorders

In these conditions, it is often difficult for the muscles to relax. You already know about the consequences.

6. Pregnancy

Leg cramps are familiar to many expectant mothers. The reasons for this are still not entirely clear to the doctors. .

7. Certain diseases and taking certain medications

Muscle cramps often accompany such ailments as diabetes, kidney problems, thyroid disorders.They can also be a side effect of taking certain medications . For example, furosemide and other diuretics, as well as drugs for the treatment of angina pectoris, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and others.

What to do in case of seizures

Fortunately, it is quite easy to get rid of a seizure in most cases. Here are some common first aid measures .

1. Stretch the affected muscle, give a light massage

This will help the spasmodic muscle relax.For example, very common leg cramps can be relieved by sitting down, straightening your legs and pulling the toe of the affected limb towards you.

2. Use cold or hot compresses

Apply a towel moistened with warm water or a sheet with a heating element to the muscle. You can take a warm bath or do a hydromassage by directing jets of water from the shower to the spasmodic muscle.

Cold will be just as effective. Wrap a bag of ice or frozen vegetables in a towel and gently massage the muscle.

3. Take pain reliever

For example, ibuprofen . It will also help to relax the spasmodic muscle.

When seizures are dangerous

Muscle spasm can be a symptom of a serious malfunction of an internal organ or the body as a whole. For example, cirrhosis of the liver, type I diabetes mellitus, developing neurological disorders, in particular epilepsy, often make themselves felt with convulsions.

There is another danger. A spasm can affect not only large muscles, but also smooth muscles that make up the membranes of internal organs.Spasms of these muscles are sometimes deadly. For example, a spasm of the bronchi can lead to respiratory arrest, and a spasm of the coronary arteries can lead to poor performance, or even cardiac arrest.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic Research Center recommend to seek medical help as soon as possible if convulsions:

  1. Occur frequently – several times a day or several days in a row. This is a reason to be wary and consult a specialist.
  2. Cause severe, almost unbearable discomfort.
  3. Accompanied by edema, redness or any other changes in the color and structure of the skin.
  4. Combined with high fever and headache.
  5. Causes severe muscle weakness.

If you do not observe any of the listed symptoms, you can exhale: most likely, spasms will not threaten you with anything dangerous. Nevertheless, it is still worthwhile to figure out their origin. At least in order to rid yourself of similar painful sensations in the future.

How to treat cramps

If cramps give you discomfort (they wake you up at night or lasts a long time, despite massage and compresses), go to the therapist. To identify abnormalities in the body, the doctor will ask you a few questions. For example:

  1. How often do you have seizures?
  2. Which muscles do they affect?
  3. Are you taking any medications?
  4. How often do you drink alcohol?
  5. What is your lifestyle and physical activity?
  6. How much liquid do you drink daily?

Blood and urine tests may be required for a more complete diagnosis.With their help, the doctor will find out the level of trace elements, and will also be able to check the condition of the kidneys and thyroid gland. In some cases, electromyography is prescribed. This is a test that measures muscle activity and diagnoses existing abnormalities in their work.

As a result, the doctor will determine the disease, the symptom of which is convulsions, and will prescribe specific treatment.

How to Prevent Cramps

Given the most common causes of muscle cramps, prevention is obvious:

  1. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  2. Do not abuse alcohol. Among other things, it is a powerful diuretic and causes fluid loss.
  3. Warm up regularly to avoid circulatory problems.
  4. Wear comfortable shoes.
  5. Try to avoid stress and nervous strain. You should have adequate rest and sleep.
  6. Make sure your diet is complete and includes foods rich in potassium, magnesium and calcium: sour milk, cereals, leafy greens, nuts, and so on.
  7. Take mineral complexes and supplements as needed. Naturally, do this after consulting a therapist.

Read also

Nocturnal leg cramps and varicose veins Phlebology Center “Antireflux”

Patients often turn to doctors with complaints of frequent cramps, not realizing that these painful muscle contractions are not a disease. They are only a complaint indicating some kind of trouble in the body. And to establish the true reason why the legs cramp in a dream, it is possible only after a thorough examination.

Why does your leg cramp during sleep?

Convulsions are one of the common symptoms of varicose veins. In addition, the presence of this disease can be assumed based on symptoms such as:

  • heaviness in the legs;
  • edema;
  • darkening of the skin of the legs;
  • the presence of varicose veins;
  • Feeling of fullness along the vein, etc.

These manifestations should make the patient alert even in the absence of external signs of varicose veins of the lower extremities.Varicose veins are not always diagnosed visually. If deep veins are affected, their condition can be assessed by ultrasound and all symptoms are taken into account, which makes it possible to correctly determine the causes of frequent sleep cramps and post-traumatic venous disease.

Simple ways to stop the course of the disease

Changes that occur with varicose veins sometimes become irreversible. It is possible to get rid of this disease only with the help of the achievements of modern medicine.But you can prevent the progression of the disease by following a few simple rules.

If a person with varicose veins in a dream has cramping legs, he should wear compression hosiery, perform physical exercises that increase muscle tone. In addition, he is shown a variety of tonic procedures.

You should also take care of organizing the correct diet (the diet should include fresh foods rich in vitamins and minerals). In no case should dehydration of the body be allowed – in this case, there is an imbalance in the balance of salts and minerals, so it is not surprising that the patient’s legs cramp in a dream.

In addition, comfortable clothing made from natural fabrics and shoes with medium heels should be worn. This will normalize blood circulation in the lower extremities, ensure high-quality blood supply to muscles and tissues with oxygen and nutrients.

Why muscle cramping: Possible causes

Muscle cramps in the body are common, but the causes are very different.

Read also: Signs that the sugar is high

The muscle can be reduced at any time.Sharp, excruciating pain occurs not only in professional runners, but also in those who simply lead an active lifestyle, or vice versa. Ivona will tell you what can be the cause of cramps and why the muscles are cramping.

  • Dehydration

When the body lacks water, electrolyte imbalance occurs, which serves to transmit nerve impulses to muscle fibers. If the body is not sure whether a signal has come from the brain, then as a defense, muscle contraction occurs and as a result pain appears.To avoid this, you need to regularly drink water.

depositphotos.com

  • Unusual stress

If the body is not used to stress, then any uncomfortable posture or too much walking will cause microdamage to muscle fibers. Muscles begin to contract painfully as lactic acid is produced. To get rid of these cramps, you need to exercise regularly. If the pain persists or excruciates at night, you should see a doctor.

  • Pinched nerve

Read also: Abdominal pain: What they signal

It can be caused by anything from sudden movement, uncomfortable posture, arthritis or not following technique during training … Anti-inflammatory drugs can help relieve pain, but if the spasms continue to torment, then you should see a doctor.

depositphotos.com

  • Pregnancy

Changes in hormonal levels can cause muscle contraction.This is quite common in the second and third trimesters. You should consult with your doctor if stretching can be done to help relieve pain.

  • Impaired circulation

Read also: How to get rid of acne for a teenager

High cholesterol levels may not provide the right amount of blood to your arms or legs. These pains are easier to identify because they are stronger than normal pains. If your muscles contract regularly during jogging, it may be a pressure syndrome that restricts blood flow.

Earlier we wrote which massage is effective for body shaping.

90,000 how to maintain health and comfort on a long journey

Swelling of the legs, numbness, convulsions – fellow travelers on a long journey, if you do not take care of your comfort.

Any long journey – a flight or car trip to another city – results in fatigue. Swelling of the legs and back pain are often added to it.Sitting in one position for several hours without getting up is uncomfortable and harmful.

Expert advice in this case is a powerful asset for any traveler. In this interview, doctor Volodymyr Shevchenko will tell you how to fly an airplane, travel by car and train with maximum comfort for your legs, back and neck.

We decided to talk about the problems of travelers. Long trips and business trips are exhausting and bring on feelings of fatigue, back and neck pain, leg swelling and cramps.Is it possible to make a long journey comfortable?

Yes, indeed, feeling good after a long journey is an urgent issue today, when the work process is not limited by geographic boundaries, and traveling to another country by plane has already become the norm.
Here, recently a patient came to me with similar complaints. The woman works as a translator and, due to her occupation, often travels and flies on business trips. She is worried that more and more often during the trip her legs are swollen, she feels heaviness and a strong “bursting”.After flights, she cannot walk normally, and after trips by car, her legs cramp, her back and neck ache for several days after the trip. She is concerned about the question of how to travel without such consequences. How to protect the body from overloads on the way?

And what are the effective ways to avoid fatigue after a long journey?

Let’s take a look at all the popular symptoms of body fatigue on a long trip in turn and analyze the options for solving each problem.Here, the obvious primacy for leg swelling and cramps.

Immobility is the main problem of the road

You are right, even a two-hour car journey to another city can provoke these inconveniences.

Yes, on a long trip, be it a bus, train or car, you have to sit for a long time in the same position with little or no movement. This creates discomfort for a healthy person, and for people with health problems, it can even aggravate the situation.Then this short, two-hour flight or trip by car negatively affects the vessels.

That is, immobility during a flight or a long ride in a car is to blame?

Exactly. Prolonged sitting in forced positions increases the risk of stagnation of blood in the veins, which leads to poor circulation. As a result, the legs become tired, swollen and numb.

Compression knee socks and on-the-go exercise – leg comfort assured

What ways out of this situation do you see?

To avoid discomfort before your trip, you should wear Travel compression knee socks.They help to avoid stagnation of blood in the veins and, accordingly, the appearance of edema. If there is a venous disease, then it is imperative to consult a phlebologist who will select and recommend a compression product of the appropriate class.

Is there any alternative to compression golfs if they were not at hand on the road?

Better, of course, to take care of your health and have compression underwear with you on a long trip. It will help a little if you take off your shoes or loosen your laces and unfasten the locks.This option will not save you from edema, but your legs will still become more comfortable.

High-heeled shoes are best put in your luggage: comfortable shoes are required when traveling and flying.

What else can you recommend for organizing comfort on the road?

I would add to the above a selection of comfortable shoes without high heels. And the clothes should be loose.
Tight jeans, skirts and blouses squeeze and therefore slow down blood circulation.
Exercise is also invaluable. You can move your feet, roll them from toe to heel, relax and strain the leg muscles. Diaphragmatic breathing helps a lot: on inhalation – we inflate the stomach, the abdominal wall rises; on exhalation – we draw in the stomach. This breathing exercise helps to improve the outflow of venous blood from the legs. And, of course, if possible, you need to get up, walk around, do simple exercises.

Neck pillow helps relax neck, shoulder and back muscles

If leg swelling and cramps are the most common complaint of travelers, what other symptoms of fatigue prevent you from feeling comfortable on the road?

Swelling of the neck and back.70% of air passengers experience similar inconveniences on the way. A neck pillow helps a lot here. Its design contributes to the physiologically correct position of the head and neck during long flights and trips. Such a pillow will relieve pain, fatigue, prevent swelling of the muscles of the neck and shoulders, and relieve tension. You can pick it up for both an adult and a child.

Drinking plenty of fluids helps the blood not to stagnate

Water helps keep the blood from stagnating in the veins, so it is important to keep your drinking routine while traveling.

Many travel advice articles include advice on drinking more fluids on the road. What is the reason for this statement?

Yes, the required amount of fluid must be ingested while traveling. Dehydration leads to thickening of the blood, which means that it stagnates in the vessels and vein. And this is a direct path to numbness, cramps and swelling of the legs. With a normal drinking regime, the viscosity of the blood decreases and its movement through the vessels improves, which has a good effect on blood circulation.
By the way, this is a mandatory recommendation for people with varicose veins.

How to determine if the body needs water? Without waiting, naturally, the swelling of the legs.

It’s easy to tell if your body needs water based on the condition of your skin. In this sense, in order to solve the problem of dry skin, take care of thermal water, wet wipes or moisturizer in advance.
Also, on the road, antibacterial wipes or hand sanitizers (Cutasept F, Sterillium) will come in handy, since it will not always be possible to wash your hands with water and soap.They can also wipe the surrounding objects if a child is with you on a trip. In hand luggage, they will not take up much space, solutions now often have a volume of 50 ml.

Let’s summarize and list the useful conclusions we drew from the conversation.

Compression stockings or knee-highs, a neck pillow, as well as plenty of drink and physical activity during the trip – this is the necessary “set” of a traveler who is satisfied with life. Long trips will be much easier if you follow these simple tips.Just take care of your comfort, and then your trip will leave a pleasant experience.
90,000 Cramps during and after training: causes and prevention

Almost every athlete has experienced muscle cramps at least once, especially in cyclic sports: running, cycling, triathlon, cross-country skiing. The most unpleasant thing is that they always appear suddenly and ruin plans for a training session or competition. Seizures can be a symptom of an illness, but most often arise from physical exertion.This article focuses on exercise-related seizures. They talked about why muscles cramp, what cramps are and how to avoid them.

Source: mobiefit.com

What are cramps

A cramp is an involuntary muscle contraction that causes severe pain and lasts from a few seconds to 10-15 minutes. Cramps can occur in any muscle, but most often in athletes the legs cramp: the muscles of the thigh and lower leg are affected. Less likely to reduce hands (skiers and swimmers), press (skiers).Muscles can contract during hard training, in competition, and even the next day during recovery. Often, cramps are seized during sleep when blood flow to the muscles slows down.

Causes of seizures

The exact cause of muscle cramps is still unknown. They last for a short period of time and depend on many factors that influence each other. It is necessary to determine the cause in each case individually, observing the body.

Muscle overload and fatigue

With overload, microtraumas appear in the muscles, the transmission of nerve impulses that regulate muscle contraction and relaxation is disrupted.Instead of the usual contraction and relaxation, an uncontrolled tone occurs – convulsions.

Convulsions can occur from systematic overwork, when the muscles do not have time to recover between workouts. To avoid this, properly dose the load and take rest days. To recover from hard workouts, massage, relaxing baths, and get enough sleep. Stretching of muscles on massage roll helps.

To avoid cramps in competition, include fatigue training in your plan.For example, running on tired muscles after strength training. The stronger the muscles, the less the likelihood of cramps, so strength training in the gym and repeated acceleration up the hill are important in preparation.

Violation of the water-salt balance

Why the water-salt balance is disturbed:

  • Increased sweating and high concentration of salts in sweat
  • Insufficient use of water and mineral drinks during exercise
  • Lack of minerals and liquids in the daily diet

During exercise, the body loses moisture and minerals – this can be seen by the white streaks on the body and clothing after exercise.Basically, sodium is lost with sweat, a much smaller part is made up of other minerals. With the loss of these substances, the water-salt balance of the body is disturbed. Lack of electrolytes leads to rapid muscle fatigue and impaired nerve conduction. If you continue to load the body in this state, the muscles will begin to constrict. Therefore, with large losses of sweat, it is better to drink not just water, but isotonic drinks or non-carbonated mineral water.

During exercise, only part of the loss can be replenished, therefore regular balanced nutrition is important.The body must get enough nutrients from food. In cases where you cannot eat well on a regular basis, you can use special food. In hot climates, athletes use sports drinks or saline capsules with water.

Problems of the musculoskeletal system

Muscle imbalances and other abnormalities can cause seizures. The most common is flat feet. Due to the lowering of the arch, the foot cannot absorb, it falls inward.The load is distributed unevenly, which leads to cramps in the overworked muscles.

So that flat feet do not interfere with living and training, get orthopedic insoles, run in the right sneakers and , strengthen the muscles of the foot .

Various diseases

If convulsions are in no way connected with exertion and occur voluntarily – be sure to consult a doctor. Cramps can occur in various muscles throughout the body, including the internal ones.The cause can be various diseases, ranging from acute respiratory viral infections, ending with varicose veins, renal failure and cirrhosis of the liver.

Why does muscle contraction at night

Cramps at night are not only among people involved in sports. There may be several reasons: circulatory disorders, muscle hypertonicity, overwork or lack of essential substances. Night cramps can occur both from excessive exertion and from low mobility. For example, professional drivers and people who have to work on their feet for a long time.To avoid night cramps, self-massage problem muscles, apply a little warming ointment, or relax muscles with warm water. This is necessary to relieve hypertonicity and improve blood circulation.

If seizures continue to recur regularly, see your doctor to find the cause.

Are convulsions dangerous?

Short-term convulsions after physical exertion are safe for health. If cramps from sports appear regularly throughout the body or are not associated with physical activity at all, be sure to consult a neurologist.Spasms of the muscles of the whole body can be life-threatening because the muscles in the chest, which are responsible for breathing, or other important internal muscles, can spasm. You should also see a specialist if the convulsions are accompanied by swelling, fever, redness of the skin, and other symptoms.

If convulsions appear without exertion, they can be symptoms of various diseases such as varicose veins, flat feet, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, renal failure, Parkinson’s disease, liver cirrhosis, spasmophilia, multiple sclerosis.

Source: joeallam.co.uk

What to do if a muscle contraction

If a muscle contraction during training or competition, stop and slowly try to stretch the sore muscle. Most often, cramps appear in the calves, in this case, pull your toes towards you. The same method helps when it brings the foot down. Stretch the muscle until the cramps go away. When the pain has passed, you can continue to move.

Another effective emergency treatment is to prick the muscle with a needle or pin.Remember, the needle must be clean, pretreated with alcohol.

When the acute phase has passed and there is no acute pain, do a massage, relaxing baths and stretching, you can apply a little warming ointment.

Preventing seizures in athletes

Follow these simple guidelines to avoid seizures:

  • Warm up and cool down. This improves blood circulation, prepares the body for stress and recovery.
  • Build up your training volume gradually, starting strength training with the lightest weights
  • Get some rest.During recovery, the muscles “digest” the load and adapt to it. Relax your muscles with massage, steam baths, saunas
  • Don’t forget to restore the nervous system. Get enough sleep, take days of complete rest from training
  • Stay hydrated – drink water or isotonic. In hot weather, over long distances try to drink mineral water (without gas), isotonic or take salt capsules
  • Make a competent training plan leading to the goal.Gradually adapt your muscles to the load, be sure to do strength training. For example, if you’re going to run a marathon in hot weather, it’s not enough to train 5K in cool weather.

Always watch your body and pay attention to the conditions under which seizures occur. It can be hot weather, increased sweating, some kind of stress. Then you will know the weak points of your body and work on them.

Video about muscle cramps

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Why does she keep her foot in the pool and how to deal with cramps when swimming

Leg cramps when swimming in a pool or open water are quite common. Muscle spasms do not last long, but they cause a lot of inconvenience and discomfort. In the event of seizures in a swimmer, the general rhythm of the training process is disturbed, and the possibility of a safe stay in the aquatic environment is also lost.In order to timely and correctly respond to the appearance of muscle spasms, it is necessary to find out the causes of their occurrence and methods of prevention.

What is a cramp

The painful process is a sharp involuntary muscle contraction – spasm. Pain syndrome usually lasts a couple of minutes. After a cramp, muscle discomfort can be felt for several days. Typically, seizures occur at:

90,028 90,029 feet;

90,029 toes;

90,029 calf muscles;

90,029 hands;

90,029 front and back surfaces of the thighs;

90,029 core muscles.

Seizures are characterized by a sharp, rapid onset and severe pain. With a convulsive attack, muscle contraction, “petrification” of the compacted area and pain syndrome occur. Most often, cramps occur in the lower legs – in the calves or feet.

Why does my legs cramp in the pool: causes of occurrence

There are many causes of leg cramps in a pool, lake or sea. Some of them are associated with serious diseases, and some of the muscle spasms are of a different nature.Therefore, conditionally, all the causes of the appearance of seizures can be divided into two groups: those that are easy to correct, and those that require close attention and specialist advice.

The first group includes:

  • emotional stress;
  • physical fatigue;
  • long break between workouts;
  • excessive training load;
  • lack or insufficient level of warm-up, cool-down and stretching;
  • hypothermia;
  • is a new type of training movement used.

The second group includes:

  • Certain diseases of the cardiovascular system and musculoskeletal system in the acute phase;
  • injury to the muscle corset;
  • lack of vitamins and minerals;
  • stress and depressive disorder;
  • dehydration.

Some types of seizures can occur with prolonged contact with uncomfortable and unsuitable props (for example, swimming with small fins leads to cramps in the toes) or with a sharp strong push from the side of the pool during the turn.

What to do if leg cramp in open water or in the pool

Convulsions during swimming occur regularly. Therefore, all swimmers need to know why they reduce certain muscle groups in the water and what to do if this happens. The main rules for general seizure behavior are as follows:

  • keep calm and don’t panic;
  • try to quickly get out of the water onto land or a side;
  • to stretch the muscle.

If the muscles of the lower leg are contracted.

Try to calm down and get to land. Then the muscle must be pulled by the toes of the feet with the hand and the heel away from you, and stretched (at this time, the second hand must strongly massage the spasmodic muscle). After the cramp is over, stretch the muscle and apply ice for 10-15 minutes. In some cases, it is enough just to lean with both feet on the bottom of the pool (provided there is a slight cramp and shallow depth) or on the side.

If it is impossible to reach the shore or the side

Even in water, you can stretch a spasmodic muscle. Do not try to quickly swim to the shore and panic. Such actions can further aggravate the process.

You can get rid of cramps in the supine position or in the float position.

In the first option, it is necessary to press the knee to the chest and pull the toes towards you. You can swim to the shore only after the spasm has passed.

The second option involves completely immersing yourself under the water, having previously drawn air into the lungs, and trying to straighten your leg, grabbing the big toe.

If you cannot cope with a muscle spasm on your own, it is better to promptly ask for help from others.

If other muscles are brought together

In case of spasm of the thigh muscles – press the heel of the bent leg to the buttock or pull to the back.

In case of muscle cramps in the shoulder and forearm – strongly clench / unclench fingers or fists.

In case of painful spasms in the muscles of the core, dynamically pull the knees to the abdominal area.

In addition to these methods, there are several universal options that help to quickly cope with convulsive syndrome:

  • Regular warm-up to improve blood circulation in the muscles;
  • thirst quencher;
  • puncture of a muscle with a sharp object;
  • lip clamp / bite.

Recommended prevention of seizures

To exclude the appearance of cramps from cold water, you should adjust the training process, lifestyle and nutrition plan:

  • Training . You should not be zealous with the load. It is important to gradually and smoothly introduce new movements and increase the level of difficulty. Each workout should start with a full warm-up and end with a cool-down and a stretch.
  • Life Balance .A healthy lifestyle includes a complete rejection of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. You should drink enough fluids every day and be physically active at all times.
  • Power . It is necessary to eat well in order to receive a supply of BJU, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. If a lack of substances is identified, additional complexes of nutritional supplements should be taken for the proper development and functioning of the body. As a rule, you can raise low levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium in the body by regularly eating cottage cheese, buckwheat, raisins, bananas, oatmeal, milk, legumes, spinach and rye bread.To make up for a vitamin D deficiency, you should lean on fatty fish, liver and eggs.

If you have regular seizures, you should consult your doctor, because this can signal a serious malfunction in the body.

90,000 causes and how to avoid them

Convulsive contraction of the leg muscles is a very unpleasant phenomenon. Especially if you are in a training regime and cramps prevent you from fully performing the selected set of exercises.

Why can leg muscles cramp?

Most often, cramps are felt by the calf muscle, muscles of the back and front of the thigh, toes and hands. A spasm usually occurs when performing physical exercises, especially for endurance and with temperature changes (swimming, long-distance running, etc.), but it can also be felt when sitting at a computer, when walking, while sleeping, moreover, with a small, but monotonous muscle movement. Athletes periodically complain of tight muscles before the start of the sports season, when the body is not yet adapted to the current load regime, or after intense exercise for 4-6 hours after training.

Causes of convulsive reduction of the legs.

There are several main causes of seizures:

  • The body did not have time to adapt to the growing level of physical activity, the athlete did not warm up enough, ignored stretching. As a result of active loads and fatigue, there is a failure in the mechanisms of regulation of muscle contraction.
  • As a result of prolonged physical exercise, rapid dehydration and depletion of salt reserves in the body (specifically, calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium ions) occur.
  • Overexertion leads to a decrease in the normal supply of blood and oxygen to the muscles, due to which metabolic products accumulate in the muscles and can cause spasms.
  • General diseases of the body associated with circulatory disorders and neuropathies.

What factors contribute to the onset of seizures?

Unpleasant sensations and muscle contraction may result from the action of several factors:

  • Prolonged intense exercise in hot weather.
  • Loss of moisture and electrolytes in the body increases, which can lead to cramps.
  • Existing circulatory problems: atherosclerotic vascular changes, varicose veins, narrowing of the spinal canal, thyroid disease.
  • Taking certain medications can cause muscle spasms: for example, diuretics (rapidly removing the necessary salts and moisture from the body), some calcium preparations and medications for asthma.
  • Long-term use and subsequent refusal from painkillers and narcotic drugs (sedatives, alcohol).
  • Tight footwear and clothing that interferes with the blood supply to the area prone to spasms.
  • Sudden changes in temperature: sometimes convulsions appear after freezing.

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