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Charlie Horses--Prevention and Likelihood of Recurrences

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Charlie Horses--Prevention and Likelihood of Recurrences

Old 07-10-19, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I use a combination of profanity and passive-aggressively ignoring, directed at the offending muscle. Works every time.

I'll be teaching this technique at a cycling-specific cramp prevention workshop. The secret is the exact ratio of the two ingredients. All campers will be required to sign a NDA, due upon payment and registration.
I get cramps in my legs in two places--on the bike and lying in bed. If I stand up and get off of the bike or out of bed, use profanity and walk around, the cramp goes away in about 2 minutes. I haven't determined whether it would be faster or slower without the profanity. I have been told I sound like I might be dying from the other side of a closed door, however.
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Old 07-10-19, 09:17 AM
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Back in the day, with distance running training, I used to have the occasional mild to moderate cramping in a calf, rarely with a hamstring. Vastly boosted my stretching regimen, on all of the hip and leg related muscles ... and, so long as I was well hydrated, I almost never experienced cramping again.

Sufficient fueling pre-workout helped. Sufficient electrolytes in the fluids during workouts helped. But no matter what else I did, if I wasn't extremely limber for the level of performance I was attempting to do, then there was a fair chance of a cramp.

Can't say that I ever went after "performance" cycling, so I can't say the same factors would translate from hard distance running to cycling. But I can't see why not. Same body, same basic nutritional intake, same basic hydration, same basic distance and intensity ... varying only the degree of stretching (from mild, in the pre-cramping days, to heavy and all over, in the post-cramping days). Worked pretty darned well.

Of course, hard performance running, particularly on hillier routes, involves the calves quite a bit. They'd better be up to the challenge, strength-wise and in terms of flexibility. Along with the foot/ankle muscles, hams, quads, glutes, adductors, abductors. I'd suggest evaluating the level of flexibility and stamina-related strength you have in your cycling-oriented leg/hip muscles, to see if you've got sufficient stretching as part of your regimen. Might help reduce the incidence.

Last edited by Clyde1820; 07-10-19 at 10:31 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 07-10-19, 10:11 AM
  #53  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Can any of the people suggesting electrolyte supplementation actually show any scientific evidence this has any connection to cramping?

Linking to a website promoting a supplement will definitely not count as "evidence", nor will your personal account of "I took this and the cramping went away".
We need a control group of people who also stopped riding, got off the bike, and just pretended to drink pickle juice for a couple minutes before climbing back on.
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Old 07-10-19, 10:39 AM
  #54  
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
We need a control group of people who also stopped riding, got off the bike, and just pretended to drink pickle juice for a couple minutes before climbing back on.
Pickle juice is supposed to afford instant relief, right? If that is true, it can't be because of electrolytes because they wouldn't have time to propagate. You'd need an IV for that to be that instant.
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Old 07-10-19, 10:45 AM
  #55  
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
Back in the day, with distance running training, I used to have the occasional mild to moderate cramping in a calf, rarely with a hamstring. Vastly boosted my stretching regimen, on all of the hip and leg related muscles ... and, so long as I was well hydrated, I almost never experienced cramping again.

Sufficient fueling pre-workout helped. Sufficient electrolytes in the fluids during workouts helped. But no matter what else I did, if I wasn't extremely limber for the level of performance I was attempting to do, then there was a fair chance of a cramp.

Can't say that I ever went after "performance" cycling, so I can't say the same factors would translate from hard distance running to cycling. But I can't see why not. Same body, same basic nutritional intake, same basic hydration, same basic distance and intensity ... varying only the degree of stretching (from mild, in the pre-cramping days, to heavy and all over, in the post-cramping days). Worked pretty darned well.

Of course, hard performance running, particularly on hillier routes, involves the calves quite a bit. They'd better be up to the challenge, strength-wise and in terms of flexibility. Along with the foot/ankle muscles, hams, quads, glutes, adductors, abductors. I'd suggest evaluating the level of flexibility and stamina-related strength you have in your cycling-oriented leg/hip muscles, to see if you've got sufficient stretching as part of your regimen. Might help reduce the incidence.


For me, stretching offers no benefits, has no relationship to cramping (that's actually been tested scientifically), and just hurts a bit and is boring.

If it seems to be working for you, keep doing it, but it's not likely got anything to do with OP's cramping. And stretching a not-warmed-up muscle is actually harmful to some people, so the "can't do any harm" assertion won't really fly here.
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Old 07-10-19, 11:43 AM
  #56  
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Originally Posted by Clipped_in View Post
I'll just leave this right here: Muscle Cramp - Causes and Remedies

That was very informative. Thank you.
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Old 07-10-19, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
For me, stretching offers no benefits, has no relationship to cramping (that's actually been tested scientifically), and just hurts a bit and is boring.

If it seems to be working for you, keep doing it, but it's not likely got anything to do with OP's cramping. And stretching a not-warmed-up muscle is actually harmful to some people, so the "can't do any harm" assertion won't really fly here.
True enough, stretching a cold muscle doesn't offer nearly the benefits of a warmed-up muscle.

As for not helping, I did several years of serious performance middle-distance running, a few decades ago. We had a group of nearly ten runners who occasionally cramped up, on our runs. Most of us began a much more serious regimen of stretching during and after runs, becoming more flexible, ending up with better range of motion. During which time our performance improved and our incidence of injuries and cramps went down to near zero (among the group). Certainly isn't a scientific study, no. You've got me there. But the difference was such a welcome surprise to the group, given very little changed otherwise. Similar training, similar routes, similar nutrition. The only big thing altered was: the stretching.

Can't say whether it'd help other folks. It did with us. Simply said it was something to consider.

YMMV, as always.
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Old 07-10-19, 11:59 AM
  #58  
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
True enough, stretching a cold muscle doesn't offer nearly the benefits of a warmed-up muscle.

As for not helping, I did several years of serious performance middle-distance running, a few decades ago. We had a group of nearly ten runners who occasionally cramped up, on our runs. Most of us began a much more serious regimen of stretching during and after runs, becoming more flexible, ending up with better range of motion. During which time our performance improved and our incidence of injuries and cramps went down to near zero (among the group). Certainly isn't a scientific study, no. You've got me there. But the difference was such a welcome surprise to the group, given very little changed otherwise. Similar training, similar routes, similar nutrition. The only big thing altered was: the stretching.

Can't say whether it'd help other folks. It did with us. Simply said it was something to consider.

YMMV, as always.
There's enough threads arguing back and forth about stretching that I don't really want to go there again. I will say only that scientific attempts to find a connection between stretching and cramps have not shown there to be a connection, nor have they shown any effect on range of motion. There appears to be a slight increase in flexibility, which is not the same thing as range of motion, and is of questionable usefulness.

I have tried stretching in the past, and have found that if it does anything to me, it is not good. I am not a very flexible person (that's actually determined genetically), so it's just completely unnatural for me.

I take the position that if it feels good to you, keep doing it, but if it doesn't, that's your body telling you it's not a good idea. People vary so much in their natural flexibility that it wouldn't surprise me at all if it turned out it actually does help some people and harm or at least not help others.
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Old 07-10-19, 12:50 PM
  #59  
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And if stretching was the key that allowed those folks to develop improved conditioning, that could indirectly explain the reduced cramping.
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Old 07-10-19, 12:53 PM
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You should stretch because it feels good. SFAIK all animals do.

Iím imagining the cats on catforums.net. Should I stretch before lying down again?
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Old 07-10-19, 02:00 PM
  #61  
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
You should stretch because it feels good. SFAIK all animals do.

Iím imagining the cats on catforums.net. Should I stretch before lying down again?
This non sequitur again? Cats do not do the same type of stretching we're discussing here, and yes, I tend to stretch out my arms when I yawn. It has absolutely nothing to do with whether one will benefit from a stretching routine that requires me to adopt all sorts of poses I'd never do naturally.

You show me a cat doing a figure four stretch, and then you MIGHT have a point.
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Old 07-10-19, 04:11 PM
  #62  
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
I had some quad cramping few weeks ago, tried the TUMS and pickle juice, no effect. Mine came on suddenly at the beginning of the ride, on a bike whose fit I was in the process of adjusting, and the seat was too far forward, IIRC. I had walked up and down 4 flights of stairs earlier that day, and suspect that had something to do with the cramping (especially walking down the stairs).

Pain originated in the areas circled in red, FWIW, YMMV:

Show off Do it again and I'll post my varicose veins.
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Old 07-10-19, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by eja_ bottecchia View Post
Pickle juice is supposed to help prevent muscle cramps.

https://www.picklepower.com/the-prod...entific-study/

But I suppose that there tastier alternatives.
I ride with a guy that's prone to cramping and he tells me that he'd rather cramp that drink pickle juice.
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Old 07-10-19, 07:57 PM
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After finishing my ride today, my right foot started to cramp up on me when I pointed my toes to take my shoe off. I tried yelling at my foot, but it was recalcitrant. Incalcitrant, even. So I grabbed a spray bottle filled with water, and sprayed my foot a good three times, as one would a cat on the kitchen counter. The cramp disappeared instantly. I found this genuinely surprising. So next time a cramp starts to flare up, shoot water at it. Report back with the results.
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Old 07-10-19, 08:00 PM
  #65  
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See this article,

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition...n-heart-health

When calcium enters your heart muscle cells, it stimulates the muscle fibers to contract. Magnesium counters this effect, helping these cells relax (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
We can debate and share anecdotal evidence regarding what an effective electrolyte supplement may be yet the importance of electrolytes and specifically magnesium to muscles is WAY beyond debate.
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Old 07-10-19, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Nachoman View Post
I ride with a guy that's prone to cramping and he tells me that he'd rather cramp that drink pickle juice.
I am with your friend on this.
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Old 07-10-19, 09:12 PM
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I'll just eat a pickle, thanks.
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Old 07-11-19, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Clipped_in View Post
I'll just leave this right here: Muscle Cramp - Causes and Remedies
This is the real story, as far as I'm concerned. Everything else is anecdotal and/or marketing.
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Old 07-11-19, 01:31 PM
  #69  
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
See this article,

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition...n-heart-health



We can debate and share anecdotal evidence regarding what an effective electrolyte supplement may be yet the importance of electrolytes and specifically magnesium to muscles is WAY beyond debate.
But to cramping, not so much:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22972143
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Old 07-11-19, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
But to cramping, not so much:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22972143
Cramping, definitely much. Read the article and not just the quote.
Where I will agree with the link is that not all magnesium supplements are equal or work. Magnesium OXIDE is a laxative and not a supplement. Avoid all supplements with magnesium oxide (heavy).

If your happy to keep on cramping then keep on cramping. Ultimately the cure will be to get enough magnesium to prevent them. Now a problem is that magnesium deficiency can be VERY tricky to treat and quite perversely, the more deficient in magnesium you are the harder it is to correct. Really perverse. When there is too great a difference of magnesium on both sides of a membrane(I believe its cellular membranes) then magnesium won't cross the membrane. The differences on both sides of the membrane need to be close together before magnesium will cross the membrane.
When your really badly deficient then the only cure is an injection of magnesium.

EDITED several times. I hope I haven't confused too many people.

Last edited by AnthonyG; 07-11-19 at 09:42 PM.
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Old 07-11-19, 09:09 PM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
. . . I will agree with the link is that not all magnesium supplements are equal or work. Magnesium OXIDE is a laxative and not a supplement. Avoid all supplements with magnesium oxide (heavy).
What magnesium products would you recommend?
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Old 07-11-19, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Payton1221 View Post
What magnesium products would you recommend?
Currently there is a buzz about Magnesium Threonate. I've tried it and its very good yet expensive. I'm not sure that I'm 100% committed to it or 100% recommending it yet its the bee's knee's at the moment.

Forms such as Citrate, Gluconate or Orotate are good forms as well. Magnesium amino acid chelate is kind of middle of the road. Magnesium Oxide is a straight up laxative and magnesium sulphate (Epsom salts) is fine for bathing or high purity ampules are good for Intra Muscular injections but not recommended for oral consumption.

Read the labels. Many supplements have multiple forms of magnesium yet the Oxide form is added because its a cheap way to claim a higher potency. My advice is to avoid them. Supplements that use magnesium amino acid chelate to bulk them up are OK. Straight supplements with higher quality forms will be more expensive and/or be lower doses.

When taking magnesium pay attention to your bowel tolerance. Too much magnesium of any form will have a laxative effect and if your stools are too soft then you will actually lose more magnesium than you absorb. This is the fundamental problem with magnesium oxide. It actually leads to magnesium loss.
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Old 07-11-19, 09:59 PM
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
Currently there is a buzz....
Buzz we have in abundance. Marketing we have. Anecdotes we have. Product we have. Wild claims we have. People making money we have. Opinions we have.

Statistically valid evidence of solutions are lacking. The causes are not understood.

Cramps are the huckster's dream.
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Old 07-12-19, 05:53 AM
  #74  
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Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
Cramping, definitely much. Read the article and not just the quote.
Where I will agree with the link is that not all magnesium supplements are equal or work. Magnesium OXIDE is a laxative and not a supplement. Avoid all supplements with magnesium oxide (heavy).

If your happy to keep on cramping then keep on cramping. Ultimately the cure will be to get enough magnesium to prevent them. Now a problem is that magnesium deficiency can be VERY tricky to treat and quite perversely, the more deficient in magnesium you are the harder it is to correct. Really perverse. When there is too great a difference of magnesium on both sides of a membrane(I believe its cellular membranes) then magnesium won't cross the membrane. The differences on both sides of the membrane need to be close together before magnesium will cross the membrane.
When your really badly deficient then the only cure is an injection of magnesium.

EDITED several times. I hope I haven't confused too many people.
The point of the article is that it's not effective at treating cramping. I realize it's tempting to connect exercise-related cramping to electrolyte deficiency, but there's way too much evidence to the contrary to take this seriously.

The current fad explanation is magnesium, but that's all it is. It has the advantage for quacks of being relatively hard to detect and to treat, so they can keep you taking unnecessary supplements for year even though it is having no real effect.

I'm not saying that magnesium deficiency doesn't exist, but it's a lot rarer than people are saying, and it isn't related to this type of cramping.

Magnesium overdose also has consequences, btw.
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Old 07-12-19, 06:03 AM
  #75  
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
The point of the article is that it's not effective at treating cramping. I realize it's tempting to connect exercise-related cramping to electrolyte deficiency, but there's way too much evidence to the contrary to take this seriously.

The current fad explanation is magnesium, but that's all it is. It has the advantage for quacks of being relatively hard to detect and to treat, so they can keep you taking unnecessary supplements for year even though it is having no real effect.

I'm not saying that magnesium deficiency doesn't exist, but it's a lot rarer than people are saying, and it isn't related to this type of cramping.

Magnesium overdose also has consequences, btw.
The article your relying on is unfortunately junk Science in my view. I tried to assess it yet all it was was an assessment of other trials. What this does is to mask the data all the while claiming authority.
There is no faith in Science. Only data. No data? No Science.

Muscles use calcium to contract and magnesium to relax. If you lack magnesium then your muscles won't relax. Its not complicated and its covered in my previous references.
Magnesium deficiency is difficult to correct and not a simple matter of taking supplements. Yes.
There are consequences to taking too much magnesium. Yes. I said that.
Just because its not a simple matter of just taking any old magnesium supplement doesn't mean that improving your magnesium levels isn't the correct answer.
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