Have you or any of your clients had a problem of cramping? I’ve had at least three clients that I can remember who had a problem with cramping in their feet. We tried electrolyte replacements, water, stretching, etc. Nothing worked.
What causes a cramp? No one really seems to know. Could it be hereditary? Yes, certain metabolic disorders such as glycogen storage diseases, carnitine palmityl transferase deficiency, myoadenylate deaminase deficiency or other syndromes, such as autosomal – dominant cramping disease can be passed through genetics.
A person could acquire a medical disease as well. A cramp could be attributed to neuromuscular or endocrine problems, fluid and electrolyte disorders, pharmaceuticals, toxins and a million other diseases could cause an “Arrghhh.”
In “laymen’s term,” a cramp could be attributed to a nerve being entrapped or compressed, hormones or the lack of, sodium-potassium and H2o levels, poisons and other mineral imbalances and the “runs.” Not to mention, menstrual cramps or indigestion.
Exercise associated, occupational cramps (writers cramp), nocturnal and pregnancy-associated can also cause a cramp.
However, the more common culprits are acquired exercise associated muscle cramps or EAMC. Although the cause of EAMC has been researched for the past 50 years there has yet to be one factor identified as the sole cause. The most recent hypothesis is offered by Drs. Schwellnus, Derman and Noakes from the University of Cape Town Medical School and the Bioenergetics of Exercise Research Unit of Sports Science Institute of South Africa. They postulate that cramping is due to an abnormality of sustained alpha motor neuron activity, which continues the stimulus to the muscle spindle and an inhibitory effect on the Golgi tendon organ affect the activity of the muscle, thus leading to the cramp. Interesting, huh?
How can you prevent cramping?
Being properly conditioned is important so the muscle doesn’t fatigue. Inflexibility can lead to an exaggerated myotonic reflex, increased fatigue and again a muscle cramp.
Proper diet and hydration are very important. This diet should provide enough sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
Although prevention is the best medicine for muscle cramps, many people will not follow the above guidelines fully or may follow them and yet cramp anyway. Common treatments for acute EAMC are icing, stretching, massaging and hydrating.
If cramping continues even after all these measures, try drinking pickle juice. The Philadelphia Eagles and the athletic training staff at the University of Northern Iowa have been treating athletes with 2 ounces of pickle juice to athletes suffering from acute muscle cramps.
Exactly how this works remains a mystery. The key ingredient seems to be the vinegar. Vinegar and mustard have both yielded similar results as pickle juice.
At the University of Northern Iowa they have administered pickle juice to athletes with acute EAMC and the cramps disappeared within 30 seconds!
So, if you or your clients ever experience exercise associated muscle cramps try two ounces of pickle juice. It might just get you out of a “pickle.” Forgive the pun, I couldn’t resist.