Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 56
  1. #1

    Default Muscle Management

    Muscle Cramps & Fatigue: What is it and how can I avoid it? (or deal with it once Iím in pain.)
    > >
    There are a couple of reasons for muscle cramping. Being dehydrated, not having enough salts, or electrolytes in your blood, over-heating, over-use and oxygen debt are a few that come to mind.
    > >
    Cramping is a result of muscle tissue inability to contract properly. Muscle contractions rely on a delicate balance of ions in and outside (in the blood and interstitial fluids that surround) your muscle cells. When the ion balance is upset, the muscle cell goes into a state of prolonged contraction: the muscle tissue locking in a contracted position, straining on other tissues, hence the pain of the cramp. Remember pain is your body telling you something is wrong, you donít want to mask it with Ibuprofen or something.
    > >
    How can I avoid muscle cramping caused by ionic imbalance? Keep a diet high in electrolytes, drink sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade, etc.) and stay hydrated. Remember to keep a balance in your diet. If you are eating salty meals, you probably donít need the sports drinks. But if your meals are very low salt, you may need the supplement. Donít just drink water. Recent studies have shown that (for ultra-marathoners, IronMan-ers and such activities), after a while, drinking only water (with no electrolytes in it) will actually be bad for you (dilutes the muscle tissue in the heart to the point of heart muscles cramping (heart attack)), and has led to the deaths of some athletes.
    > >
    > >
    Long term oxygen debt is another reason why muscles may cramp or develop fatigue. Cellular respiration is the process of converting sugars into useable energy (ATP). You need oxygen for cellular respiration to occur. This is called aerobic respiration, and it provides your cells with lots of energy (~36 ATP). When you perform exercise for long periods of time, the amount of oxygen available to your tissues (muscle cells) is reduced. This is one reason you breath harder during exercise (another is to get rid of by-products of respiration, like CO2). When you donít provide enough oxygen to the cells another process takes over: anaerobic respiration. Anaerobic respiration is a technique that many life-forms use to get energy, but it is much less efficient that aerobic respiration (16 times less efficient!!). Fermentation is another name for anaerobic respiration; yeast (think beer), and some bacteria (think yogurt, kimchee) perform fermentation. When yeast performs fermentation, it makes alcohol. When muscle cells perform fermentation, the result is lactic acid. Lactic acid is actually poisonous to cells and must be broken down rapidly, or injury to the cells may occur. Lactic acid build-up is what causes muscle soreness after exercise, and may contribute to cramping. The kicker is, not only is anaerobic respiration much less efficient, but it actually uses up more energy than it creates in breaking down the lactic acid. So its really a big waste of energy in the long run.
    > >
    How can I avoid oxygen debt? BREATH. Slow down, enjoy the scenery. Stretching (Iíve learned through experience) will help to flush away some of the by-products of respiration from your cells, and will help to get the blood flowing and speed up gas exchange to the cells, speeding up recovery (recovery is when oxygen can get into the cells, lactic acid is broken down and washed away and the muscles are ready for aerobic respiration again). A phenomenon experienced by long distance athletes, runners, competitive swimmers (like me) is tolerance. These athletes do hypoxic training: training at low oxygen levels (basically means breathing less). Your muscle cells adapt to the low oxygen conditions and adjust performance so that they can perform like normal in a low oxygen state. Then, when you go back to normal oxygen levels, they perform even better. So over time you will Ďget used toí having less oxygen and wonít experience as much soreness after exercise. There are formula drinks on the market (Cytomax) that contain enzymes that help break down lactic acid, leading to decreased muscle soreness. These do work, but you have to drink it regularly over a period of time (weeks), not just take a shot when your muscles are sore.

    Dehydration is another reason that muscle cramping or fatigue may occur. Anytime you upset the balance of water in your body, many of the chemical reactions will suffer. Most notably, I find my muscles and brain cells are affected first. Dehydration is easy to fix, drink slowly, continuously. Donít drink a liter of water in one gulp! The sudden influx of water may result in vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, etc. When rehydrating, make sure to drink electrolytes.
    > >
    Overuse and overheating are two other things that may disrupt muscle performance. Easy to fix, take breaks, cool off. Take a zero day here and there, stick your head in the waterfall (Moose do much worse!) Basically listen to your body. If you are tired, donít push it. Forcing a couple of extra miles may cost you many more later on down the road.
    > >
    Stretching before/after excercise has proven to be of little scientific help to muscle performance, save to prepare the tissue for further use (increases blood flow and gas/nutrient exchange. 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). This will increase performance and reduce the chance of injury due to tears, pulls and stress fractures.


  2. #2

    Default

    reminding people that this section exists...if you have input, please speak up.

  3. #3
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-03-2002
    Location
    Maryville, TN
    Age
    50
    Posts
    14,864
    Images
    248

    Default

    Chances are the article is so good they have nothing to add. I intend to clean up some of the Word inserted crap before the thing is finalized.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  4. #4
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-03-2002
    Location
    Maryville, TN
    Age
    50
    Posts
    14,864
    Images
    248

    Default

    Hey Saimyoji, I got to thinking about this yesterday - what about the next day or two when muscles are sore and/or cramping?
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  5. #5

    Default

    Good question.

    Long Term Issues

    Muscle soreness is caused by lactic acid build-up. The longer/harder you force the muscles to work in oxygen debt, the more lactic acid will build up, the sorer your muscles will be the next day, or two, or three....Its not uncommon to have sore muscles for several days after hard exercise. Especially if you are out of shape to begin with. When you are out of shape, your muscles haven't been conditioned to deal with the lactic acid as they are when you are in shape. See the section where I talk about tolerance.

    For example...You haven't been to the gym in a while, say months, or years. The first day you go in and try to lift like you always did when you were younger. You will HURT for the next week or so. You need to take it easy. You should slowly get your muscles accustomed to the exercise regimen. After training for a few weeks, months, your muscles are conditioned to deal with the lactic acid. At the molecular level, your muscles cells become activated to produce more of the enzyme that breaks down lactic acid, thus reducing l.a. levels more quickly, thus less soreness. When you haven't conditioned the muscles, the cells aren't making this enzyme, thus it takes longer to break down the lactic acid, more soreness.

    One other consideration with sore muscles: Many people go to the gym, walk, run, cycle etc....for exercise. But when you get out and actually do the event you're training for, you use many muscles you probably haven't been training. Running around in your neighborhood doesn't require you to use many of the same muscles you'll end up using when you're actually on the trail. The only way to really train for something is to actually do it over and over and over and over.....

    Cramping is pain caused by severe muscle contraction. Cramping is usually associated with nutrition. (Getting enough electrolytes to the muscle cells). Remember that dehydration, overheating, overuse can also lead to cramps. While soreness should be expected to last a few days, cramping shouldn't. Usually you can work out a cramp in a few minutes (by stretching and massage) and be fine. Muscles that have been abused over many hundreds of miles with no rest are more likely to cramp up. While I stated earlier that stretching doesn't help performance very much, it can reduce the likelihood of cramps (pulls, strains as well).

    Two things about cramps: They may be caused by electrical misfiring of the muscle tissue. This is also what causes muscle spasms. Let the spasm go and it will sort itself out. Or massage it away. The other thing is stronger muscles get stronger cramps. A cramp in these stronger muscles will probably hurt more as it can put more stress on the surrounding tissues.

    I don't know of any sure-fire ways to eliminate cramps, other than to eat/drink well enough, and stretch....and breathe.

  6. #6
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-03-2002
    Location
    Maryville, TN
    Age
    50
    Posts
    14,864
    Images
    248

    Default

    Good stuff. The other day I was moving gravel, some muscles in my shoulders starting hurting a couple of days later - I guess muscle groups that aren't normally worked when I do my normal work out or something. Anyway...

    If you can work the info about avoiding and dealing with long term muscle cramps. and your original stuff into a new post, I'll clean it up for format and get it into a released article status.

    Thanks!
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    There are a couple of reasons for muscle cramping. Being dehydrated, not having enough salts, or electrolytes in your blood, over-heating, over-use and oxygen debt are a few that come to mind.
    There's one other cause I haven't seen mentioned here, and that's continuous exposure to cold. The body's tissues operate best within a fairly narrow range, around 70 degrees. Too much above or below that and malfunctions occur. Cold-cramping is more likely to occur in muscles that are exposed, particularly in the legs, because they don't have surrounding tissues (fats, other muscles) to help retain heat. Recovery is slow because reheating takes time, only after which can metabolic resupply and waste removal occur efficiently.

    Some hammock campers have been finding this out the hard way when using torso-length pads. Their calves rest directly against the hammock fabric, which (because of convective cooling) chills down the muscles. Later on they wake up with cramps.

    When it's cold out warmth should be retained in the legs and excess heat vented from the waist up. That way generous circulation is maintained (warm feet!) and joints function smoothly. (This is why athletes have traditionally used "warm-up" clothing for morning runs, weightlifting, etcetera--to protect the joints and maximize training performance.)

    Doug Frost

  8. #8
    Registered User English Stu's Avatar
    Join Date
    04-21-2005
    Location
    Kirmington,England
    Posts
    355

    Default

    Its a good idea to start your training by walking/running every other day,when fitter do recuperative exercise on alternate days -gives time for muscles to grow and the exercise flushes out the lactic in the muscles.Getting used to stretching after exercise is worthwhile.Warm up first if stretching is thought necessary before the hike i.e after half a mile.

  9. #9

    Default

    Sorry for not responding DLFrost. I'm still thinking on how to incorporate your comments into the article.

    Stu: This article is not about training for the hike, nor about stretching, though that would be a good article to do. Maybe you, or someone could do that article and include what I've written as a part of it.

    I've some more additions/changes to make, Rock, so hold tight for awhile so I can get it sorted out. May take a few days.

  10. #10

    Default

    I think self massage of leg muscles and stretching after a hike is beneficial in decreasing potential muscle soreness and prevention of overuse injury such as iliotibial band syndrome.

  11. #11
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
    Join Date
    09-03-2002
    Location
    Maryville, TN
    Age
    50
    Posts
    14,864
    Images
    248

    Default

    Something I was told was after strenuous exercise such as running, light use and stretching of the same muscles helped the body to remove the lactic acids from these muscles. If this is true, then walking around camp slowly without a pack after a long day would help prevent cramps.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  12. #12

    Default

    Yeah..it seems the science on stretching has changed since I was a kid. We used to be told that stretching prepares the muscles for activity, warms them up and increases flexibility.

    The most recent studies suggest NOT stretching to warm up. The theory is that cold muscles are less elastic, stretching when cold will only serve to increase the chance of strains, pulls. Stretching after exercise is much better as your muscles are warm and more elastic.

    Stretching is great for increasing recovery. I mentioned it but kind of glossed over it. You should stretch after exercising for the following reasons: increases blood flow to the muscles flushing out lactic acid, CO2, other metabolic by-products and replenishes O2, electrolytes, glucose (metabolized during cell respiration), etc.

    Techniques for stretching vary from very specific target-style stretching (stretching specific muscles very well) to a more general 'walk it off' type of stretch. For the average thru-hiker I would think the latter good on a daily basis, and target certain muscle groups that begin to get sore after awhile.

    Remember that this type of stretching won't increase your flexibility very much. Flexibility training is a science all in itself.

    As I said before, I think someone could write a good article on training for the hike, including stretching, and maybe my work could be included as a part of that...

    More to come....

  13. #13

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock
    Something I was told was after strenuous exercise such as running, light use and stretching of the same muscles helped the body to remove the lactic acids from these muscles. If this is true, then walking around camp slowly without a pack after a long day would help prevent cramps.
    It's also been reported that easy-going walking or swimming on "off" days helps recovery. This makes sense because muscle takes from two days to as much as a week to both recover and adapt to an overload. Having enhanced blood flow through the area during this period speeds recovery by removing catabolic wastes and providing anabolic supplies. This also explains the application of heat (pads, hottub soaks, etc.) as a traditional remedy for soreness.

    Doug Frost

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    10-17-2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Age
    58
    Posts
    4,295

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji View Post
    ...This is called aerobic respiration, and it provides your cells with lots of energy (~36 ATP)...
    Not really complete or accurate. He means 36 molecules of ATP produced for every molecule of glucose catabolized. However this calculation is based on traditional and overly optimistic P/O ratios. A number of 30 ATP/glc would be more accurate. But this is not a fixed value and thus can only be an estimate and thus not particularly relevent.

    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji View Post
    ...Lactic acid is actually poisonous to cells and must be broken down rapidly, or injury to the cells may occur. Lactic acid build-up is what causes muscle soreness after exercise, and may contribute to cramping. The kicker is, not only is anaerobic respiration much less efficient, but it actually uses up more energy than it creates in breaking down the lactic acid...
    You body has natural mechanisms for preventing excessive LA accumulation, so saying that it is "toxic" is unnecessarily alarming. Anaerobic metabolism is indeed less efficient, but also more powerful. This is why it is necessary for short term bursts of energy, but can't be relied upon for long term. Thus it is not a "big waste of energy" and really isn't something to worry about. The idea that anaerobic respiration "uses up more energy than it creates in breaking down the lactic acid" make no sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji View Post
    ...There are formula drinks on the market (Cytomax) that contain enzymes that help break down lactic acid, leading to decreased muscle soreness...
    This sounds like snake oil to me. Lactate is converted to pyruvate using the enzyme Lactate Dehydrogenase. Pyruvate is catabolized to CO2 via pyruvate dehydrogenase and the citric acid cycle. Enzymes (like LDH and PDH) are proteins which are large macromolecules. They will be digested to amino acids in your digestive system and would have no effect on LA in the blood. In fact the Cytomax web site says that the product contains a polymer of lactic acid as an energy source (so it actualy provides LA, not an enzyme to to help break it down) and the study cited on the web site contradicts the previous quote and confirms what I said above about LA being an energy source (not a "toxic...waste of energy").

    The bottom line: Don't over do it, stay hydrated, eat a balance diet, and keep hydrated - Duh!

    Also, don't waste your money on products advertised to improve athletic performance (i.e. avoid snake oil)

  15. #15

    Default

    It's threads like these that drive home the fact,that I don't S--t,very cool.

  16. #16

    Default

    Muscle soreness is NOT caused by lactate accumulation. That is the old belief. Lactate (at physiological pH lactic acid is in the form of lactate) is actually removed from the muscles within a few hours and, as described above, converted back into pyruvate. Muscle soreness is due to mircrotears in the muscle filament (cells). With repeated stress, exercise, they actually grow back stronger. Exercise leads to angiogenesis-the formation of new blood vessels. This increases the efficacy of aerobic respiration. Additionally exercise increases the production of more mitochondria further increasing the efficiency of aerobic respiration.

  17. #17
    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
    Join Date
    12-10-2009
    Location
    Titusville, Florida, United States
    Age
    70
    Posts
    1,966

    Default

    I'm pretty much drinking the same Kool Aid as lostinfflood and Odd Man Out but I've always been told and read that protein is needed to regenerate the damaged muscle tissue created in excercise. Over simplified? Maybe but in the case of a long distance hiker who is continually using leg muscles. Isn't it necessary to increase protein intake to help heal the muscle and thus build stronger muscle?
    KK4VKZ -SOTA-SUMMITS ON THE AIR-
    SUPPORT LNT

  18. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    10-17-2007
    Location
    Michigan
    Age
    58
    Posts
    4,295

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by moytoy View Post
    I'm pretty much drinking the same Kool Aid as lostinfflood and Odd Man Out but I've always been told and read that protein is needed to regenerate the damaged muscle tissue created in excercise. Over simplified? Maybe but in the case of a long distance hiker who is continually using leg muscles. Isn't it necessary to increase protein intake to help heal the muscle and thus build stronger muscle?
    I'm a biochemist, not an exercise physiologist. But it is my opinion that the protein in a balanced diet is probably sufficient. I suspect that the muscle loss reported by some thru hikers is probably due to insufficient calories, not insufficient protein. But if you want more protein, eat more protein. Non-fat dry milk is pure natural protein powder, and is so cheap, they practically give it away. Why pay 100x more for "nutritional supplements"? You are much better off shopping in the grocery aisle rather than the nutritional supplement aisle.

  19. #19
    Working on Forestry Grad schol
    Join Date
    01-21-2005
    Location
    Blacksburg, VA
    Age
    33
    Posts
    1,455

    Default

    The stuff saimoyoji posted seems very outdated. Most of those statements were made at some point by exercise physiology researchers, but have since been proven to be less than true (although some of them only since you wrote the post!).

    Odd man out is pretty close to spot on. there's a lot of new and really interesting research about lactate, but I can't say that I understand it thoroughly enough to add much.

  20. #20
    Registered User Rickard's Avatar
    Join Date
    05-15-2012
    Location
    Telford, PA
    Age
    39
    Posts
    25

    Default

    A lot of that info is still good, but I'll add my 2cents.


    RE: Protein/Muscle

    In the end it's all about nitrogen balance relative to activity, so protein is always very important; critical even. The reason for this is that it's the single life essential macronutrient that our bodies cannot produce on its own. Need carbs? Nope, look up gluconeogeneses. Fat/triglycerides? Fill the liver up with fructose, the body converts to triglyceride. Overeat, triglyceride .. even with fat free foods at the energy source. Never mind the fact that there is always triglyceride floating around in the blood stream. With the amount of calories consumed by the average hiker though, this is all likely a non-issue. Still, the whole picture is worth a look to set oneself up for success.

    It's tough to give a blanket statement for "how much protein?" is enough, because there are many variables to consider. I won't even get into vegetarians or vegans, and the importance of achieving complete amino acid profile. That's essential, and a tangent I will not get into as it will not apply to most who read this.

    First and foremost, calorie total is important. The higher it is, the more likely a hiker will be to achieve nitrogen balance. It's near impossible to not get enough protein on a 3,000+ calorie diet. Also, calorie total determines the amount of protein that is needed. Don't sweat the amino profiles, because they all hook up sooner or later .. somewhere in the body. I seriously doubt any meat eater will ever be lacking in any of them, either ... especially on a hiker's diet.

    In order of importance;

    #1. Set calories - be realistic to yourself.
    #2. Set required protein relative to #1(and mayyyyyyybe #3 in some cases, more on why later) (http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat...ieting-qa.html)
    ( http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/mus...-athletes.html )
    #3. Set carbohydrate to personal preference, but consider the article. 2-3g/lb LBM is more than sufficient. ( http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nut...-you-need.html )#4. Set dietary fat due to personal preference.


    Don't worry about timing nutrients or anything like that, you're not Michael Phelps.


    To help the numbers jive on your total calories calculator ... Protein and carbohydrates(well, not alcohol sugars .. but I'll get into that) are 4calories per gram. Fat is 9 calories per gram. Alcohol sugars are about 7 calories per gram(in a laboratory), but the reality is that with thermic effects and a bunch of other jargon, it's more like 5.3 when all is said and done.


    The lower value # 1 is, the higher #2 value should be for optimal protein sparing. There are too many variables and eating styles for me to give blanket statements, so refer to the articles for you to customize for yourself. Be realistic about what you can eat, and most importantly .. too radical a change will make you miserable and likely more willing to give up on eating optimally. So, try to be smart about how you set this up for those reasons. For you section hikers, overall diet throughout normal living is more important than dialing macronutrients in for the trail. Optimizing ones diet on the trail is a waste of time, if the bigger picture sucks.


    A general rule of protein requirements is a heavily debated topic, and it is far from settled. This does not mean we cannot be intelligent about it. Current research gives us numbers, if we stay within the range that research has brought us good things will happen. As for how to calculate that, look at the earlier articles I have linked to. 1g/lb LBM is more than enough in most cases.

    Hiking is an incredibly catabolic activity(especially when undernourished); basically it's the breaking down of body proteins(muscle) as fuel. Fat is more efficient at about 3,500 calories of energy per 1lb gained or lost, while muscle mass only provides about 600 calories worth of energy(but not necessarily the same amount of energy required to build it). The body sees muscle as a liability, probably due to the fact that we have large brains .. and can outsmart our prey rather than out muscle it. This means that we have to fight for dear life to hold onto it, and why meatheads take drugs to try and resemble Ronnie Coleman. Yes, our bodies are awesome at keeping us round and weak ... go figure. This is great for survival, but really can kill the swag factor, eh?

    Higher protein intake(e.g. 2-3g/kg LBM) is essential to spare protein loss on a caloric deficit, under normal dieting conditions(generally low calorie for sedentary folk). LUCKILY, hikers tend to eat higher carbohydrates and even total calories .. which is also protein sparing even in large deficits. This brings that large 2-3g/kg requirement way down, benefits of the protein sparing effects of carbs/cals. This is good news for most of us who can hoover large amounts of food to compensate(even if only intermittently when thru-hiking trail towns), but those who cannot should take the whole protein thing a bit more seriously. ESPECIALLY those who suffer from celiac disease, or do the whole trending "paleo" or ketogenic type diet. But these people reading my words, likely don't even need the help I am offering here.


    Want to build muscle on the trail? Forget it. One cannot build a house without bricks, there simply aren't enough calories available to support it. There is an argument to be made for beginners being able to build muscle at a deficit, but returns become diminishing rather quickly. "But hikerz have large calves and legs". Correct, luckily muscle building is not a linear process. This is done while at rest and at a caloric surplus; the body adapts to life's stresses whenever it can .. just as long as it keeps receiving the stimulus while having adequate recovery time. Hiking burns glycogen(read: fuel stored in the muscle). When this gets depleted, the body will prioritize replenishing it. Read about "glycogen depletion and supercompensation". Not necessary, but it's a pretty interesting process if you're a nerdy fella like myself.




    To address the stretching debate, recent research has shown Dynamic Stretching to be far superior relative to Static Stretching for just about every application. Jumping, endurance, muscle strength(eccentric only though, I believe). A quick google search will find you many pubmed studies on the topic.

Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 LastLast
++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •