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Muscle Cramps: Recent article about preventing them in WSJ

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  • Muscle Cramps: Recent article about preventing them in WSJ

    Today's Wall Street Journal has a large article about muscle cramps. I would encourage anyone who gets cramps to read it. It's a potentially great advance which undercuts the "conventional wisdom" of cramping.

    Some key bits:
    For decades physicians and other experts in sports medicine have theorized that a cramp was the result of a muscle that was dehydrated, or starved of electrolytes, or suffering tears in its micro-fibers and cell membranes. Now, more experts are beginning to believe we may have been thinking wrongly about cramps all along.
    The primary origin of the cramp is the nerve, not the muscle.
    After perusing the existing research he and Dr. Bean hypothesized that they could modify the nervous system, including the motor neurons controlling muscle, by applying a strong sensory input and by stimulating receptors in the mouth and esophagus—which is how scientists describe ingesting pungent tasting foods. The pungent-taste overloads nerve receptors, producing a kind of numbing effect.
    I know a lot of elite athletes who swear by pickle juice as the cure for cramps. It seems these scientists are discovering why that works!
    Nobel Prize winner Rod MacKinnon found that pungent and spicy tastes can hinder neurological misfires that cause muscle cramping. He and others developed the spicy drink, Hotshot, to help.

  • rich99
    replied
    I need to try this spice thing. Triathletes have been using mustard and pickle juice for years. I've heard of this kayaking guy last year, yet he didn't give the formula hinting it would be too easy to copy. Tim Noakes said (10 years ago) the best way to prevent cramps is to train for it, yet it was still not understood.
    I have cramps in the upper part of my right hamstring only after 4h of hard racing in technical terrain. Then it can become generalized to my calves and hands if I'm using poles. It's not something I can really train for. I've had two races were I was in a podium position yet had to sit down and wait 5k before the finish line and repeat this every few feet, very frustrating after 40 miles :( It really feels like some nerves or receptors have gone dysfunctional, not lack of water or salt.
    Glad to know some products are out there now: Hotshot, Crampsaway, Pickle Shot and Sriracha 2.0. Will have to try them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Trail Boss
    replied
    Fascinating stuff: A 70 kg human contains 40-45 liters of fluid.

    ​It's located in our bodies like so:
    1. Intracellular: 27 liters (in the cells)
    2. Extracellular: 18 liters (outside the cells)
    Extracellular's 18 liters is sub-divided like so:
    1. Interstitial: 13 liters (in between the cells)
    2. Plasma: 3.5 liters (blood plasma)
    3. Lymph: 1.5 liters (lymphatic fluid)
    "Salt" exists in our body as sodium (Na+) and chlorine (Cl-) ions and, if combined, comprise on average about 200 grams (7 ounces).

    The recommended maximum daily intake of salt is a paltry 28 grams (< 1 ounce; ~ 2 tablespoons).


    FWIW, the only salt I consume while hiking is whatever tiny amount may be lurking in a Clif Bar (120 mg) and dates (infinitesimally low but high in potassium) and PB&J sandwiches (PB = 70 mg/tablespoon). This is effectively a low-sodium diet and I don't suffer from muscles cramps. And I sweat profusely. My water intake rarely tops 3 liters.




    Last edited by Trail Boss; 07-19-2016, 08:39 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • All Downhill From Here
    commented on 's reply
    QED - the less you drink and the more you sweat/pee/breathe, the higher the concentration of non-water things in your blood.

    My point was that assuming you have enough water (not saying pound or chug it), eventually you run out of salt.

  • autochromatica
    replied
    Originally posted by Trail Boss View Post
    Yeah, but it's got electrolytes.
    Oh my God, I'm using this. A lot.

    Leave a comment:


  • Trail Boss
    replied
    Yeah, but it's got electrolytes.

    Leave a comment:


  • autochromatica
    commented on 's reply
    Wow! That's three people I now know. The other two stories are pretty scary, a friend's wife was hospitalized for a few days. Like heat stroke, it can be deadly.

    People have been dying in marathons/triathlons from hyponatremia since the 'hydration'/Gatorade craze started in the 70s. Gatorade is just expensive sugar water. (If you like the taste of Gatorade and want to spend your money on it, great. But realize the only benefit is from the calories (sugar) and the water, the rest is pseudo-scientific babble.)

  • autochromatica
    replied
    Originally posted by All Downhill From Here View Post
    Never run into cramps myself, and that's with my skin tasting about as salty as seawater (yes, I lick my arms to recover the minerals). Two things I carry that help I think - pretzel rods loaded with salt, and/or tortilla chips, which have the advantage of being loaded with fat as well. Both can be eaten as crumbs.

    You also might be surprised to read (from the book with which I am in no way affiliated): https://www.amazon.com/Waterlogged-S...ds=waterlogged

    In controlled trials, the people who drank the LEAST had the HIGHEST concentration of electrolytes in their blood. No need to lick your sweat. (PS: Yuck!)

    Leave a comment:


  • autochromatica
    replied
    Originally posted by FlyFishingandBeer View Post
    I started getting leg cramps about a year and a half ago and I think I finally found a way to prevent them. Well, it works for me anyway. I find that by force hydrating the day before my hike or run, leading up to about two hours before the activity I can usually avoid them for about 20 miles of hiking. Of course, if you have bladder issues or can't make it through the night without a bathroom break, this might not work for you.

    I also forgo packing light and fill my pack with real fruit full of real water when I hike in hot weather. If all else fails, there's always yellow mustard packets. Those have worked for me in the past too.

    I swear, I am in no way affiliated with the author of this book and get zero commission for recommending it. Essentially, "force hydrating" doesn't do anything, and in some cases can be very bad. Drink when thirsty, that's all.

    (Note: I too carry grapes, cherries, oranges, and other watery fruit while hiking. So refreshing!)

    https://www.amazon.com/Waterlogged-S...ds=waterlogged

    Leave a comment:


  • Trail Boss
    commented on 's reply
    The rooster emblem on the bottle has led people to call it Hot Rooster sauce. Except they use a shorter word for rooster. :-/

  • All Downhill From Here
    replied
    Never run into cramps myself, and that's with my skin tasting about as salty as seawater (yes, I lick my arms to recover the minerals). Two things I carry that help I think - pretzel rods loaded with salt, and/or tortilla chips, which have the advantage of being loaded with fat as well. Both can be eaten as crumbs.

    Leave a comment:


  • FlyFishingandBeer
    replied
    I started getting leg cramps about a year and a half ago and I think I finally found a way to prevent them. Well, it works for me anyway. I find that by force hydrating the day before my hike or run, leading up to about two hours before the activity I can usually avoid them for about 20 miles of hiking. Of course, if you have bladder issues or can't make it through the night without a bathroom break, this might not work for you.

    I also forgo packing light and fill my pack with real fruit full of real water when I hike in hot weather. If all else fails, there's always yellow mustard packets. Those have worked for me in the past too.

    Leave a comment:


  • FlyFishingandBeer
    commented on 's reply
    Not all Srirachas are created equal. Always go with the good stuff.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon....EL._SY679_.jpg

  • HPHikingMoo
    commented on 's reply
    Thanks. I will check it out. I did actually experience what I believe to be hyponatremia when I did a 12 hour ultra race last year. It was a very scary experience and I was lucky to be in the company of very good friends who got me home after the race as I could never have driven.

  • Makwa
    replied
    Potato chips for cramps?

    http://mlb.nbcsports.com/2016/07/17/...bcs&yptr=yahoo

    Leave a comment:

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