Myth Debunking Monday: I feel Crampy

Ah yes, It's Monday and time to restart this week and to jump back into working out.Sure this weekend was full of sleeping and not so much focusing on hydrating but o well. Almost all the way through your workout you feel a sudden CRAMP! What is this cramp and what does it mean?

A Cramp is a form of tetanus/Rigor [more along the lines of rigor] What we see is that the muscle fibers are locked in the "on" position causing continual muscle contraction. The way this world works, it would seem that to burn energy [ATP] we have to flex our muscles. However, it's not the flexing of the muscle that cost's us ATP, but actually the process to unflex. To have a muscle contraction a million things have to work, Ca++ pumps have to effect the [Tn-C] to cause the [Tn-I] to alter it's shape. This only happens when the Na-K pumps create an action potential in the Muscle by flowing across diffusion gradients. None of that is really important. What matter's is that everything up until this point has been "with the flow" of concentration. Ca++ flows where there is none, and Na-K switch with each other. This causes Muscle contraction, to reverse this process we use ATP to reverse the procedure and to flush out Pi [inorganic phosphate].

sweat more than H2O
Now think of when you're more likely to cramp, beginning of a game or late in a game? Cramp's come late because we are low/out of ATP. With these low levels our muscles cannot repolarize and reverse the contraction. That's one possibility, the other could be an over concentration of K+ after workout. Potassium is found in many sports drinks and banana's, however post workout we have an over-concentration [if exercise is vigorous enough] What can help is a Na+ [Sodium] replenishment. We saw in the article pertaining towards hydration it is vital to keep Na+ [salt basically] levels up. Obviously too much salt is said to increase chance for hypertension. Salt is like two face, one side is a hero and can save you from evil, but the other side could kill you in a heart beat.

So to correct this cramping should be fought by providing your body with an immediate source of glucose. Flood the system with sugar basically. This is if it is during a workout, usually from exhaustion of ATP. By feeding yourself with sugar your Blood glucose will rise and your immediate system will be able to produce ATP at a faster rate which will "unflex" your muscles. If it is post workout consume plenty of salt and water. As gatorade says "you sweat more than water."

Cramping within 48 hours after an intense workout is normal [even muscle spasms]. It can take up to 48 hours to replenish a muscle source with glycogen. As the body is trying to heal and replenish its stores, it can lead to the cramps. So when you wake up in the middle of the night with tears in your eyes you can be happy to know you worked your body good.

Wrong way's to fix a cramp:
Stretch it out [might help blood flow]
Punch the cramp [not kidding i've heard this one before]
Run through the cramp [It's not going to help, but go for it]

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About Me

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BS, MS - exercise Physiology
EPC - Board Certified Exercise Physiologist

Published Thesis
The impact of three different forms of warm up on performance

The Effects of Glucose Supplementation on Barbell Velocity and Fatiguability in Weightlifting - A pilot study"

The Accute Effects Of Different Squat Intensities on Vertical Jump Performances
The Accute Effects of Different Squat Intensities On Jump Performance

Graduate from Midwestern State University, founder of Endunamoo Barbell Club, and Endunamoo Strength and Conditioning. Working to help athletes physically reach their goals and achieve scholarships while spiritually pouring into as many people as possible on all platforms.