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Thread: Solution to leg cramps

  1. #1
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    Solution to leg cramps

    I’m hoping that someone may be able to help me solve a problem. My wife is a talented triathlete, winning her age group (55-59) in several major triathlons over the past two years. She has signed up to do a full ironman distance (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) in Wisconsin but she can't seem to swim past 1200-1400 meters before she gets leg cramps. She has consulted local swim coaches, tried all their suggestions and nothing works. It's a real problem and she is thinking of giving up on the race. Since she is 57 this may be her last shot at doing something she’s wanted to do for years. She has tried hydrating (with water and tonic water), stretching, had her technique evaluated for mechanics, etc. has anyone else had this problem and if so, what the solution? I’m desperate to help her but don’t know where else to turn. If you know of anyone who might be able to help, please let me know. Thank you.

    Bruce

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    Very Active Member ALM's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    Does she take a statin drug (for lowering cholesterol)?

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    Very Active Member pwb's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    Only my anecdotal experience to back this up, but I see leg cramps for me in swimming correlated with:

    • alcohol consumption the previous night: I'm not a heavy boozer, but I'm much more likely to get calf cramps the morning after having 1-2 beers or glasses of wine,
    • excessive sitting the day before or day of: even when I'm training well, if I spend the previous day working behind a desk, sitting on a plane, driving a lot, I'm more likely to get leg cramps
    • not kicking enough during the swim: generally, when I get leg cramps in an OW swim, it's because I've forgotten (especially when wearing a floaty wetsuit) to concentrate on keeping up a steady kick (even just a two beat)

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    Very Active Member quicksilver's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    Solution to leg cramps...

    We're not really supposed to endorse products here..but dill pickle juice can be a possible solution.

    http://blog.timesunion.com/running/l...le-juice/2229/

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    Very Active Member magick17's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    i'm prone to leg cramps..my solution i found works..i drink 2cans(big ones) of v-8 low sodium(major potassium)..and nitely i take a magnesium/calcium/zinc supplement. I notice my foot cramps before my leg and i stop swimming when my calf starts twitching...good luck to her!

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    I used to get leg cramps cycling on long rides. Tried lots of things but eventually found that bananas work the best for me. I hate bananas but if it works....

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    I've never tried this myself, but a seasoned swimmer told me that mustard, (the packets you get at a hot dog stand) works instantly to alleviate cramps. I've just never had it when I needed it, but it is indeed an interesting concept!

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    Active Member Undeniable's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    Quote Originally Posted by quicksilver View Post
    Solution to leg cramps...

    We're not really supposed to endorse products here..but dill pickle juice can be a possible solution.

    http://blog.timesunion.com/running/l...le-juice/2229/
    I've heard the same thing. Not that I have a problem myself with cramps (knock on wood)...bananas seem to do the trick for me, but I have heard people who do have this problem say pickle juice helps. Sorry I don't have a better-tasting suggestion! Pickle juice is pretty gross.

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    Very Active Member Thrashing Slug's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    I've never gotten leg cramps while swimming open water, but I used to get them during long pool swims at the end of the day after working all day. I found that eating a banana before the swim and drinking Heed during the workout helped to prevent cramps.
    -
    "The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action." -- Bruce Lee

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    Very Active Member Lump's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    When the leg cramps come after a lot of flutter kicking, I do 100 breast. the flexing of the kick loosens up the leg muscles.

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    I have found potassium to be extremely beneficial for me. I used to get leg cramps all the time. Started eating a banana before every practice and the problem went away.

    You can also go to your local pharmacy or health food store and buy a Potassium supplement which I have found to work just as well.

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    I have found (at various times) that all of the following lead to leg cramps for me:

    Dehydration
    Cold water
    Anaerobic sets (the cramps show up in the following aerobic set)
    Hard kick sets (the cramps show up in the following swim)
    Sudden increases in distance swum
    pregnancy
    chemo

    The first thing is to avoid the triggers. (Keep hydrated, increase swim distances slowly, etc.)

    I have also had luck taking Enduralyte to make the cramps go away. There are other products as well.

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    Magnesium works. Use it for intensive swim camps worked each time

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    Quote Originally Posted by pmth95 View Post
    Magnesium works. Use it for intensive swim camps worked each time
    Magnesium also does work. Be advised, do not buy magnesium citrate. It is a laxative. People have made this mistake before, don't be one of them haha.

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    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    I've been getting tons of cramps lately. They often start in my toes, progress to my arches, then move up to the calf muscles and--after tennis--into some weird muscles on the inside of the upper thighs (weird in the sense that it is almost impossible to figure our what the opposing muscle is for these, and thus you can't do the old trick of contracting the opposing muscle to relieve the cramp.)

    A couple years ago, I read something on pickle juice in the New York Times and have been planning to give it a try. I will post back after a week or so of imbibing.

    How much should you take, and when should you take it?

    I found one site that gives prescriptive advice: about two ounces of pickle juice about 10 minutes before exercise begins.

    Here's an excerpt:

    Sidebar - A Shot A Day
    We have been using pickle juice to prevent and treat muscle cramps at the University of Northern Iowa for the past three years. Primarily, the athletic training staff has used it as a last resort in treating or preventing exercise-associated muscle cramps. When all of the previously mentioned preventive techniques—proper conditioning, nutrition and hydration, and stretching—have been tried and have failed, we add pickle juice to the athlete’s pregame regimen. We have found that by giving two ounces of pickle juice to the athlete 10 minutes before exercise, even the most chronic cramper can remain cramp-free during high-intensity exercise.

    Pickle juice also seems to effectively treat acute muscle cramps. We first found this out when an athlete who was on a pickle-juice regimen forgot to take his dose before a game. When he suffered severe bilateral cramps in his gastrocnemius, he was taken out of the game and given two ounces of pickle juice. The cramps were completely gone within 30 seconds. We have tried this technique with other athletes and found it to be universally effective, with the great majority of cramps not recurring.

    Usually, two ounces of pickle juice will treat and prevent any cramp. There have been a few situations where the athlete was suffering from muscle cramps in more than one area, or the cramp was in a large muscle group, like the abdomen, and he or she was then given additional pickle juice. It is imperative that the athletic trainer advise the athlete to continue hydrating, keep a balanced diet, and to take pickle juice in moderation.

    Additionally, we have treated muscle cramps by giving two ounces of straight vinegar to athletes who were experiencing an exercise-associated muscle cramp. It was found that the involuntary contraction went away in 15 to 30 seconds and did not recur. Although the straight vinegar has worked, it is very difficult for athletes to consume straight vinegar. Pickle juice is more palatable and has been accepted better by the athletes.

    Vinegar is the obvious common ingredient in both mustard (which is used by some athletic trainers) and pickle juice. But, as yet, there is no experimental research that has explained the mechanism of how these treatments work.



    You can read the whole thing at http://www.momentummedia.com/article...009/cramps.htm

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    If the cramps seem to be mostly in her calves have her try 1/4" heel lift in her running shoes. The foot motion of swimming and running are totally opposite and can totally confuse the achilles and calf muscles.
    If she has a rigid foot (high arches that tend to supinate) a full length soft orthotic with high arch support could help. A slip-lasted, curve-lasted shoe would help too. Good luck !
    HTFU!

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    Speaking from experience, potassium can really help with leg cramps. It is very important to get the potassium from food sources. Cantaloupe, bananas, orange juice and milk are all great choices. I run a lot and usually consume 3 different servings of potassium rich foods a day. If you up your potassium intake (again, food sources, not supplements) you should notice a difference quickly. Also, make sure you are drinking enough water.

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    Very Active Member laineybug's Avatar
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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    For me, leg cramps while I'm swimming is the best predictor of high TSH and a need for an increase in meds.

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    Re: Solution to leg cramps

    Hi Bruce,

    I really hope someone has a solution that helps her - whether it is fruit, supplements, insoles pickle juice. But, with that said - she may be stuck with them. I don't want to sound pessimistic, but I sure feel that I am stuck with my cramps.


    I have suffered from toe cramps since I swam age group. I would often have to get out and stretch my feet/toes.

    Now I'm a bit older (52) and I still suffer. Mostly toe cramps (and up into the calf). Some days I cramp the quads and others the hamstrings - but mostly that'll be towards the end of a long set where I did more kicking than usual. But, mostly it is in my toes and arches - kicking set then pull set w/ a buoy is a sure way to set it off.

    I am a stomach sleeper. I now sleep with my feet over the end of the bed instead of flat out behind me. I often stand behind my chair at work with the balls of my feet up on the caster "arms" of my chair, stretching my calves. I can stand bent at the waste and step on my fingers - can't put my palms flat on the floor - but, still not bad flexibility in the legs & still I cramp.

    I say all that 'cause I have tried many things. From Steve Born's article, linked to by Lump, I wonder if I don't have "Inherited abnormalities of substrate metabolism"

    I swim 3500 yds/day x 6. I've been working with my doctor to try to deal with this. I take a prescription potassium, otc calcium, magnesium. I drink water as soon as I get out of bed, eat, then swim then have chocolate milk. I can take water, or not, while swimming and still have cramps. I'm certainly not shy on food sources - today's intake included 2 bananas, 1 orange and an apple. My average is actually one of each but the bananas were getting over ripe!

    I've not tried the pickle juice and will give it a shot. Fortunately 2oz is probably not enough to cause gastric distress while swimming - so where is my little shot glass of pj? Any one have any thoughts on adding the pickle juice to the hydration water? Home made pickle-aid!

    I've not cut out my evening beer or wine, but as pwb noted that could be a cause, now - I can't blame consumption on cramping when I swam age group! I haven't had a drop today, so that experiment is started.

    Funny thing, my cramping problem is all leg, calf, arch, foot. I've never had arm or shoulder cramp problems even with long pull sets with paddles - Weird.

    I wish her the best of luck and maybe someone will post a magic bullet! I'll be following this thread and will post my results on no alcohol and yes to pj.

    Cheers,
    PT

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