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Thread: Leg Cramping

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    Section Hiker - 900 miles TooTall's Avatar
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    Default Leg Cramping

    I have trouble with leg cramping. I can get cramps in my calfs during the day but I can usually just press out the cramp by doing a calf stretch. When I did my first 20 mile day I had cramps in both my legs that night. Both my calfs and the front and back of both of my thighs cramped up. Man, that was a rough night.

    What's the best way to avoid cramping? Would doing some leg stretching before or at the end of a day's hike prevent it? I hear potassium helps with cramps so would a change in diet help?

    Too Tall Paul
    "He who knows others is learned; he who knows himself is wise." - Tao Te Ching

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    I gather too little potassium or too little salt can cause cramping, especially if you have sweated a lot during the day.

  3. #3

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    Eat more

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    Twisted Walkingstick Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouse
    I gather too little potassium or too little salt can cause cramping, especially if you have sweated a lot during the day.
    Yep, I sweat alot when I hike / backpack. so much that you can see white streaks in my cloths, cap and on my backpack sometimes. Salt! My right calf cramped up on me during my last section hike over ole Roan Mtn a few weeks ago. Had to stretch it out. I try to drink alot of water before, during and after each day along with Gatorade or Powerade drinks. Diet can help too. I try to stretch out before I start but sometimes forget.

    Next physical I will ask my doctor about salts tablets (don't want any high blood pressure). During high school football season we would take salt tablets to ward off any problems. Don't know if this is the answer or not or if something else may be of help but I want to know.
    Happy Trails,
    Chip
    If we look at the path, we do not see the sky. We are earth people on a spiritual journey to the stars. Our quest, our earth walk is to look within, to know who we are, to see that we are connected to all things, that there is no separation, only in the mind.
    - Native American, source unknown

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    Section Hiker - 900 miles TooTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    Eat more banana
    = Potassium

    Too Tall Paul
    "He who knows others is learned; he who knows himself is wise." - Tao Te Ching

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    Registered User neo's Avatar
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    i took this combo on my last hike in oct,i never had foot pain either
    600 mg calcium 200 mg magnesium 100 mil potassium,no leg cramps or foot pain neo

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    I'm unique, just like everyone else........ One Leg's Avatar
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    Default Boy, I know how that feels..........

    Quote Originally Posted by TooTall
    I have trouble with leg cramping.
    I feel your pain......
    Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. That way, you're a mile away, and you've got his shoes.

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    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Leg
    I feel your pain......
    yea LEG cramping but not Legs cramping...

    my legs are gonna hurt tonite..been snowshoeing and packing trail
    "I'd rather kill a man than a snake. Not because I love snakes or hate men. It is a question, rather, of proportion." Edward Abbey

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    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    See what the doctor says about salt, but I've found that simply hydrating a lot more, both before I start and while I'm hiking, makes a material difference in whether I cramp or not. I learned to "camel up" after a long hot day of hiking in Vermont. My buddy and I were trying to play cards at the shelter and I had to stop because my hands kept cramping, keeping me from holding the cards in my hand. I finally stopped cramping an hour or so after I chugged over a liter of water.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

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    Section Hiker - 900 miles TooTall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Leg
    I feel your pain......
    And I can't comprehend your pain

    Too Tall Paul
    "He who knows others is learned; he who knows himself is wise." - Tao Te Ching

  11. #11

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    I get terrible cramps too sometimes. I've tried everything: potassium, salt, bananas, massage. I believe it comes from dehyration more than anything. When i finished the Leadville 100 in 2001, my whole body cramped up, all night. It was some of the worst pain i've ever felt. Would i do it again? sure, if i had the time to train like that again. good luck, i'll be watching this thread to see if there's any new solutions to try.

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    GA-VA 2005, VA-CT 2007, CT-ME ??
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    Good water and mineral balance is important. How about massage for prevention and response? For me, it's a good way to get blood flowing back in the tissue, and maybe help flush out some of the waste build-up in the muscles. It will also help keep things relaxed without the strain that over-stretching can cause. A light rub while you're hiking can be nice, maybe during your lunch break. And about 99% of the time I stretch and massage before bed to try to keep from tightening too much.
    -Mark

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    Registered User rambunny's Avatar
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    Add more instant mash potatoes to your diet along with the afore mentioned, hydration and salt. My cure is having a big bowl of ramen noodles with instant mashed potatoes with hot sauce.

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    Default Leg cramps...

    ALL suggestions are so TRUE!

    HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE!

    stretches are always good....but, enuff POTASSIUM in your diet is better.
    look for TRAIL SNACKS that feature salt & POTASSIUM.

    if not, you'll be carrying more pills to "buddy" up with that "VITAMIN I"!
    see ya'll UP the trail!

    "Jaybird"

    GA-ME...
    "on-the-20-year-plan"

    www.trailjournals.com/Jaybird2013

  15. #15

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    Cramping is a result of muscle tissue inability to contract properly. When the ion balance inside/outside muscle cells is upset, or when there is long term oxygen debt (resulting in lactic acid build-up) the result is muscle "misfire." (There's much more biochemistry involved, but this should be enough for our discussion.) This misfire results in the muscle tissue locking in a contracted position, straining on other tissues, hence the pain of the cramp.

    To avoid cramping: make sure you stay hydrated with plenty of electrolytes (however you get them: bananas, Gatorade, etc.). This will help to avoid the ionic imbalance. Stretching before/after excercise has proven to be of little scientific help to muscle tissue, save to prepare the tissue for contraction (use). Long term, serious stretching/flexibility training is required to make a noticeable difference in flexibility, muscle elasticity (do yoga for six months before your hike). Make sure you are getting enough oxygen. Breath properly. If you are straining up the mountain, huffing and puffing, you are more likely to have CO2 build up in your blood, reducing O2 to you cells, building up lactic acid. SLOW DOWN, catch your breath. There are powdered drinks that target lactic acid (Cytomax is one) that will reduce lactic acid in your muscles. These need to be drunk(drank?) on a regular basis to be effective.

    I follow my own advice and rarely cramp up. I find I only cramp when I'm dehydrated or dead tired.

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    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    Cramping is a result of muscle tissue inability to contract properly. When the ion balance inside/outside muscle cells is upset, or when there is long term oxygen debt (resulting in lactic acid build-up) the result is muscle "misfire." (There's much more biochemistry involved, but this should be enough for our discussion.) This misfire results in the muscle tissue locking in a contracted position, straining on other tissues, hence the pain of the cramp.

    To avoid cramping: make sure you stay hydrated with plenty of electrolytes (however you get them: bananas, Gatorade, etc.). This will help to avoid the ionic imbalance. Stretching before/after excercise has proven to be of little scientific help to muscle tissue, save to prepare the tissue for contraction (use). Long term, serious stretching/flexibility training is required to make a noticeable difference in flexibility, muscle elasticity (do yoga for six months before your hike). Make sure you are getting enough oxygen. Breath properly. If you are straining up the mountain, huffing and puffing, you are more likely to have CO2 build up in your blood, reducing O2 to you cells, building up lactic acid. SLOW DOWN, catch your breath. There are powdered drinks that target lactic acid (Cytomax is one) that will reduce lactic acid in your muscles. These need to be drunk(drank?) on a regular basis to be effective.

    I follow my own advice and rarely cramp up. I find I only cramp when I'm dehydrated or dead tired.
    Nice post!

  17. #17
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Great post saimyoji. Dang, if'n there was a little more meat there about stuff, that would make a great save for the article section. Ever thought about doing an article?
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

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    Gimme some time and I'll see what I can do.

  19. #19
    Section Hiker - 900 miles TooTall's Avatar
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    Default Please make that an article

    Great post! Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    To avoid cramping: make sure you stay hydrated with plenty of electrolytes (however you get them: bananas, Gatorade, etc.). This will help to avoid the ionic imbalance.
    Is there any way to get electrolytes without the sugar? Bananas don't carry well on the trail unless dehydrated ahead of time. Does dehydrating a banana also ruin them as a source of electrolytes? Gatorade might be too much sugar. What are other good sources of electrolytes?

    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    Make sure you are getting enough oxygen. Breath properly. If you are straining up the mountain, huffing and puffing, you are more likely to have CO2 build up in your blood, reducing O2 to you cells, building up lactic acid. SLOW DOWN, catch your breath. There are powdered drinks that target lactic acid (Cytomax is one) that will reduce lactic acid in your muscles. These need to be drunk(drank?) on a regular basis to be effective.
    Thanks for the tip on Cytomax! A quick Google and it looks like I'd prefer the Cytomax Lite (gotta be watching my blood sugar nowadays). Got any experience with the other powders I saw listed with Cytomax?

    Too Tall Paul
    "He who knows others is learned; he who knows himself is wise." - Tao Te Ching

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    Registered User Clark Fork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TooTall
    Great post! Thanks!



    Is there any way to get electrolytes without the sugar? Bananas don't carry well on the trail unless dehydrated ahead of time. Does dehydrating a banana also ruin them as a source of electrolytes? Gatorade might be too much sugar. What are other good sources of electrolytes?



    Thanks for the tip on Cytomax! A quick Google and it looks like I'd prefer the Cytomax Lite (gotta be watching my blood sugar nowadays). Got any experience with the other powders I saw listed with Cytomax?

    Too Tall Paul
    I was also impressed with Cytomax and their Cytomax Lite. In another post "Gumby" pointed out the sugar content of three well known products. I wrote Cytomax and asked them about their "Lite" brand:

    Here is what they said:

    "The LGI contains 12 grams of sugar and 16 grams of total carbohydrates. LGI
    is lower glycemic index because we use a different blend of carbohydrates
    (less maltodextrin which is very high-glycemic)than the regular product.
    Please let me know if you have more questions,
    Martina"

    Here is what Gumby reported. I added the Cytomax Lite to the line up.

    Sugar content in Emergen-C is 5 grams, Cytomax has 11, Cytomax Lite has 12 grams, Electro-Mix has none.

    Over the winter I am going to try Electro-Mix. I don't want to be bonked with as dose of sugar no matter how disguised.


    http://www.mothernature.com/shop/detail.cfm/sku/42474#Description

    Regards,

    Clark Fork.

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