Tuesday, June 17, 2014

CRAMPING, Are You Fueled?

This article from SlowTwitch is great!
Deadspin featured a mostly fun but partly serious and thoroughly entertaining piece in exercise-induced cramping, prompted by LeBron James’s muscular malfunction during one of the recent NBA playoff games. The piece was called Everything You Know About Cramps Is Wrong, And Gatorade Is Full Of Shit. I admit a vicarious schadenfreudish peace washed over me as I read about a corporate titan brought low. (We had a 52-post thread on LeBron’s cramps.)

But in Gatorade’s defense, it’s caught in a bind. It cannot sell the perfect sports drink for exercise in convenience stores. That drink would not taste good enough to be sold at retail to those reaching for a sports drink to wash down Spicy Nacho Doritos (cornerstone of the lunch of champions – the formercornerstone, ideally).

Some months back I was rounding into pretty good running shape. Then, 4 miles into an 8 mile loop, my calf seized. And I mean exactly 4 miles in, so that I had to get back exactly 4 miles on that calf, which did the calf no good. I tried everything. Stretching. Walking. Waiting it out. That camp would not unseize. Further, for the next 6 weeks I was “crampy.” I cramped swimming. I cramped walking around the house. I woke up crampy. It was not just in my calf, I was crampy systemically.
Cramps are a mystery, and I can’t prove it but I suspect cramps are the proximate cause of a number of other injuries. I wonder whether a lot of trunk and torso related strains – high hamstring, psoas, hip flexors – might not occur because of a cramp during exercise that we play through, that spasm exerting extra tension on the connective tissue.

There are too many glib, single-etiology responses by those who think they have the answer to why we cramp. If you go on our reader forum cramping is caused by under-hydrating. No, it’s caused by over-hydrating. No, you cramped because you trained or raced beyond your capacity. No, cramping is mental.

How do we not cramp? “Train more, race smarter,” according to one Slowtwitcher. Compression gear. Salt tablets. Electrolyte replacement (no, not that brand, this brand!)