11 Mar 2013

Secrets to preventing Cramp

All Articles, Nutrition Advice, Training Advice No Comments

What Causes Cramp?

Muscle cramp has a number of main causes, the most frequent of these are fatigue, low sodium and potassium, low blood sugar. Loss of electrolytes through sweat is the most common one for athletes.

crampSodium and potassium are macrominerals (organic compounds found in the earth’s crust). Along with carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and water, they are one of the 6 essential dietary nutrients. They are ‘dietary constituents essential to the life process’ (Jeukendrup and Gleeson, 2010) and their function is to provide energy, structure and regulation. All bodily processes rely on the action and presence of minerals, they aid tissue rebuilding, but are difficult to absorb unless consumed in the right quantities.

The more exercise you do, the more minerals you will require. In theory, athletes could be at risk of mineral deficiency because many are lost through sweat, etc. rather than absorbed into the body. Increased endurance and strength training will also increase the mineral requirement.

How do I avoid mineral deficiency – and help avoid cramp?

  • Include three servings a day of dairy, served with carbs if possible (e.g. milk on cereal)
  • Eat fish with bones (shellfish are a good source of potassium)
  • Eat leafy green vegetables e.g. cabbage, broccoli, spinach (and also carrots are a good source too)
  • Eat fortified foods (e.g. breakfast cereals)
  • Avoid drinking tea with meals, tea and coffee are diuretics.

4 signs of dehydration:

  1. Dry mouth
  2. Thirst
  3. Flushed skin
  4. Decreased urine / darker urine

How do I avoid dehydration – and help avoid cramp?

  1. Casual exercisers: 2 litres of water 4-1 hour before exercise, 250ml water every 15 mins during exercise
  2. Moderate exercisers: 2 litres of water 4-1 hour before exercise, 250ml isotonic sports drink every 15 mins during exercise (isotonic drinks have the same glucose concentration as the blood)
  3. Endurance athletes: 2 litres of water 4-1 hour before exercise, 250ml hypotonic sports drink every 15 mins during exercise (hypotonic drinks have a higher glucose concentration than the blood, use carefully, useful to maintain glucose levels in endurance athletes, has a very slow absorption)

For more nutrition information and to book your own personal assessment visit my web site http://www.ryding2health.com.

Mel Ryding