Muscle cramps

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Rush
9/21/07 4:25:11PM
Hey guys

I am pretty much out of ideas other than doing nothing at all.


Last Saturday I was running and at about my 13th mile or so I started to get a small cramp in my right calf. This is new to me since I have never had an issue with muscle cramps. It just literally came out of nowhere.

I plugged away to about the 16th mile and ended up having to stop. It got better in a couple days with some treatment (see below). I went for another run on Thurs (yesterday) and had to stop at the 7th mile (I wasn't going to push it this time) because of the same thing.

Here are the things that I have tried or do on a regular basis

I eat 1-2 bananas a day so I doubt if it's a potassium thing
I am always well hydrated
I have never injured that area before

For treatment I have tried deep tissue massage and ART. I have been stretching (dynamic and static) and I have tried short gentle spurts of running followed by easy walking (to try and get the muscle to release). I have also tried a bit of hot water, but not extensive heat treatment.

I am out of ideas other than sitting on the couch. I have a martial arts grading on Monday and want to run a marathon on the 30th of Sept. I'm not concerned about Monday's test, but I am worried about the race. I don't want to get half-way through the race and have to stop and I don't want to stop training since I have it set up so I peak on race day.

Does anyone have any other ideas?
szucconi
9/21/07 4:40:06PM
I had similar problems when I was cutting weight for wrestling. It was mostly a water thing, but salts play a large part also. I would examine your diet to make sure you are getting enough salts, but its only one idea. I don't really know what I am talking about, I am just repeating what the trainer told me. I basicly had to ignore her inorder to make weight so I don't know if salt was the problem. Once I started eating again it wasn't a problem.
brooklynbadass
9/21/07 4:47:09PM
I would say water is the culprit but if you are hydrating like you say you are this should not be a problem. My girlfriend is a massage therapist, she says if the muscle is sore you should not do any massaging to it at all (not sure if you were sore when you did the deep tissue).
Rush
9/21/07 4:49:06PM

Posted by szucconi

I had similar problems when I was cutting weight for wrestling. It was mostly a water thing, but salts play a large part also. I would examine your diet to make sure you are getting enough salts, but its only one idea. I don't really know what I am talking about, I am just repeating what the trainer told me. I basicly had to ignore her inorder to make weight so I don't know if salt was the problem. Once I started eating again it wasn't a problem.




I thought about this and I'm not cutting weight so my diet really hasn't changed all that much. That is barring the possibility that I am losing a lot of salt from sweating so much and my regular diet just doesn't have enough. I do my best to replace my electrolytes though.

Oh and I forgot to add that I even stopped having the occasional beer.
Rush
9/21/07 4:53:23PM

Posted by brooklynbadass

I would say water is the culprit but if you are hydrating like you say you are this should not be a problem. My girlfriend is a massage therapist, she says if the muscle is sore you should not do any massaging to it at all (not sure if you were sore when you did the deep tissue).




It's a little sore, but nothing I would consider a problem, but then again, I have a really high pain tolerance. My physiotherapist says that if he used the force (that he uses on me) on his other clients, they would not come back. And I can even have a regular conversation with him while he is doing ART. My high pain tolerance is a problem because it usually means that I will not stop until I am really injured (and that just sucks)

I will drink more water just in case though. I find it's hard to tell if I am hydrated enough (if there is such a thing )
Ogre365
9/21/07 5:43:19PM

Posted by Rush

I will drink more water just in case though. I find it's hard to tell if I am hydrated enough (if there is such a thing )



Well other than the obvious checking your urine for color it's tough to say how to determine whether your getting enough liquids.

It could also be an electrolyte thing. Most people try and avoid salt, but we all know it is a necessary part of our diet and if your running marathons then perhaps you need more than the average joe. But if it is an electrolyte thing then shouldn't it be affecting all your muscles?

I would guess you most likely pulled something. I have had injuries before that didn't effect me much when I was relaxing but as soon as i started working the muscle it would start getting tight and not wanting to cooperate.
alvin
9/21/07 5:44:18PM
Do you replenish water while running with electrolite suppliments? My girlfriend just ran a 1/2 marathon and had these little electrolite packages she took while running and said it made a big difference.
loonytnt
9/21/07 5:51:25PM
i think you are doing ok if it comes on your 13th mile lol i run 5miles and i get bored and go roll
Rush
9/21/07 8:42:26PM

Posted by alvin

Do you replenish water while running with electrolite suppliments? My girlfriend just ran a 1/2 marathon and had these little electrolite packages she took while running and said it made a big difference.



I drink gatorade diluted 50/50 with water. I take two mouthfuls every two miles. You can't drink too much otherwise it upsets your stomach. After the run I probably drink a couple litres of water.


Regarding my urine, there is nothing strange about it.
Jackelope
9/22/07 1:19:32AM
This will sound strange, but are you taking any supplements? I had this same problem before and it was from taking NO2. Well, at least it started when I was taking it and it ended after I quit taking it.

Granted I was only running 6-7 miles at the time, not marathon distances.

There's always the chance that it's tendon related, too. Especially if you've been training a lot lately. Ever heard of ITB syndrome? It's basically "runner's knee" and even though you're not describing pain in your knee it is possible that your iliotibial band is pulling a little hard which could lead to discomfort/pain in your muscle. Mostly for that I guess it would help if you describe where on your calf it tightens up. Or, if it's the whole thing.

I'm no doctor, but these are a few possibilities I can think of off the top of my head. That, and from what it sounds like of your running experience I'm sure you've heard of ITB syndrome and have explored the possibility of that being the case.
Rush
9/22/07 11:24:49AM

Posted by Jackelope

This will sound strange, but are you taking any supplements? I had this same problem before and it was from taking NO2. Well, at least it started when I was taking it and it ended after I quit taking it.

Granted I was only running 6-7 miles at the time, not marathon distances.

There's always the chance that it's tendon related, too. Especially if you've been training a lot lately. Ever heard of ITB syndrome? It's basically "runner's knee" and even though you're not describing pain in your knee it is possible that your iliotibial band is pulling a little hard which could lead to discomfort/pain in your muscle. Mostly for that I guess it would help if you describe where on your calf it tightens up. Or, if it's the whole thing.

I'm no doctor, but these are a few possibilities I can think of off the top of my head. That, and from what it sounds like of your running experience I'm sure you've heard of ITB syndrome and have explored the possibility of that being the case.





RE: supplements - I only take a bit of protein power and a multi vitamin. Everything else is just a good diet

RE: IT band syndrome - yes I had that last summer. It's gone and I know what it feels like. It's not it.

However, you raise a point that I thought of last night. It may be my Achilles tendon tightening up and pulling on my calf. I realized that I was stretching my legs using a lot of belt stretches (used in yoga). Therefore all of my calf stretches neglected stretching this tendon. So yesterday and today I am stretching my tendon a lot and we'll see how the cramp issue holds up on Sunday. I hope it's ok because I've trained hard for the race and I want to do it.
Jackelope
9/22/07 1:05:20PM

Posted by Rush


Posted by Jackelope

This will sound strange, but are you taking any supplements? I had this same problem before and it was from taking NO2. Well, at least it started when I was taking it and it ended after I quit taking it.

Granted I was only running 6-7 miles at the time, not marathon distances.

There's always the chance that it's tendon related, too. Especially if you've been training a lot lately. Ever heard of ITB syndrome? It's basically "runner's knee" and even though you're not describing pain in your knee it is possible that your iliotibial band is pulling a little hard which could lead to discomfort/pain in your muscle. Mostly for that I guess it would help if you describe where on your calf it tightens up. Or, if it's the whole thing.

I'm no doctor, but these are a few possibilities I can think of off the top of my head. That, and from what it sounds like of your running experience I'm sure you've heard of ITB syndrome and have explored the possibility of that being the case.





RE: supplements - I only take a bit of protein power and a multi vitamin. Everything else is just a good diet

RE: IT band syndrome - yes I had that last summer. It's gone and I know what it feels like. It's not it.

However, you raise a point that I thought of last night. It may be my Achilles tendon tightening up and pulling on my calf. I realized that I was stretching my legs using a lot of belt stretches (used in yoga). Therefore all of my calf stretches neglected stretching this tendon. So yesterday and today I am stretching my tendon a lot and we'll see how the cramp issue holds up on Sunday. I hope it's ok because I've trained hard for the race and I want to do it.



Yeah, ITB sucks as I'm sure you know. Usually it's lateral knee but who knows what ligaments and tendons are capable of pulling on. The achilles route sounds like it might be a good one to explore, especially if you've got the problem mid-calf.

Well, good luck healing it up and with your marathon!
Rush
9/22/07 6:59:49PM

Posted by Jackelope

The achilles route sounds like it might be a good one to explore, especially if you've got the problem mid-calf.

Well, good luck healing it up and with your marathon!




That's exactly where it is, mid-calf.


Thanks for the well wish. I haven't registered for the race yet so I wont lose any money if I don't race. I'll just be a potential waste of hard training. I do have the option of running one in October, but I ran that race before (half-marathon) and it was a little cold for me. Plus the race next week is a nicer route.


I'll se sure to share my progress (or lack thereof) on the cramp issue.
Rush
9/25/07 11:27:51AM
I thought I would cap off this thread with the lessons I learned on Sunday.

1) The stretching of the Achilles tendon really did help. There are two types of Achilles tendon stretches.

There are specific self treatments you can do for all the the muscles of your legs, however this article will address the calf muscles. In your calf you have two muscles, the gastrocneimus ("gastroc" for short) and the soleus. Most runners faithfully stretch the gastroc by either keeping their foot flat and then bending their body forward and keeping their leg straight, or by standing on the curb and dropping their heels toward the street, while keeping their legs straight. I always advise against this second method of stretching because it is too severe, until after the muscle has lengthened, for the muscle to tolerate this much of a stretch. Stretching should be done gradually, increasing the stretch every 15 seconds until you are stretching as far as you can anatomically bend your ankle, then hold it static for 60 full seconds.

The stretch that most athletes miss is the one for the soleus. Both the gastroc and the soleus insert into the Achilles Tendon, and either one can cause the tendon to tear if it is severely contracted. To add the soleus stretch is very easy. Assume the same flat foot position as you have for the gastroc, and move forward (bending the ankle), but now move your body back so you are also bending your knee. You will feel a totally different stretch. Do the same thing, increase the stretch every 15 seconds until your knee and ankle are bent as far as they can anatomically go, and again hold it for 60 seconds.


2) I remembered that there was a very steep up-hill portion of my run. This put a lot of strain on my Achilles tendon so I ran the course in the opposite direction. That helped as well.

3) At one point in the run I felt the pulling /cramp on my calf again. I switched to running a couple miles on the flat track and it helped it go away. I think the smoother terrain on my race course will be nicer to my legs than the rougher one I train on.

4) Now, most importantly I learned the limits of my body. Normally I only stay hydrated with water and some Gatorade when I am training (i.e. I only use energy gels for races). On Saturday I finished a 3 hour run (I wanted to test the limits of my calf cramp problem) and was pretty tired. I made it home and sat down at the table and started to drink some more water before making my after workout shake (which has everything in it). Then my eyesight started to go (i.e. I was going blind) and I started to sweat like mad. I was conscious enough to talk my wife through making my shake and within of minute of drinking it I had my sight back. I think I totally depleted my glycogen stores in my liver and was ready to black out.

I was planning on downing an energy gel every hour during my race this Sunday, but after that incident I think I am going to down one every 30 min.
szucconi
9/25/07 12:03:52PM
That’s great info, thanks for sharing.

Again, let me preface by saying I have no idea what I am talking about and I am only repeating what I have been told. Its about ultra marathons and that is something I have never done or want to do. While training for a marathon my boss befriended a guy that runs ultra marathons. This guy told him that you should eat complex carbs in the beginning of a race, but after a distance of about 15-20 miles (to be honest I don't remember the distance he said, but I think this is close) you stop being able to use the carbs and you need to eat some simple sugars (He used the gels). Don't take my word for it because like I said this is third hand info. It might be something worth looking into and it might be complete BS. I am glad you solved your problem.
Rush
9/25/07 1:08:35PM

Posted by szucconi

That’s great info, thanks for sharing.

Again, let me preface by saying I have no idea what I am talking about and I am only repeating what I have been told. Its about ultra marathons and that is something I have never done or want to do. While training for a marathon my boss befriended a guy that runs ultra marathons. This guy told him that you should eat complex carbs in the beginning of a race, but after a distance of about 15-20 miles (to be honest I don't remember the distance he said, but I think this is close) you stop being able to use the carbs and you need to eat some simple sugars (He used the gels). Don't take my word for it because like I said this is third hand info. It might be something worth looking into and it might be complete BS. I am glad you solved your problem.



This is the gist of the general dogma.
Jackelope
9/25/07 6:03:12PM
Yeah, I appreciate that info, too. The last time I did a big run was when I was still in Germany with my buddy and I started to lose my sight, too. I wasn't sure what the hell was going on. (This was before all my EMT training had started) It freaked me out pretty bad and of course my heart rate was through the roof.

It sounds like you had it all pull together there in the end with the calf muscle. So, right on!
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