A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. Muscle cramps are unpredictable, uncontrollable and often very painful. They are most commonly experienced in the foot, calf and leg muscles and can frequently occur in athletes due to the intense training and exercise regimens undertaken. If you suffer from cramps, Endura can help!
Why do I get cramps
Major factors that can contribute to the onset of muscle cramping and tension include the following:
- Dehydration – particularly if you have been exercising in hot, humid conditions. This is why some athletes find they get cramps more frequently in the warmer months of the year.
- Deficiencies in electrolytes due to excessive sweating and/or insufficient dietary intake – particularly low potassium, low levels of magnesium and/or low levels of calcium.
- Excessive vomiting or diarrhoea causing dehydration and/or electrolyte loss.
- Inadequate oxygenation of muscles due to poor circulation or anaemia.
- Physical over-exertion and/or physical exertion of cold muscles can increase the risk of cramps, as can muscle injury and fatigue.
- Improper technique which can place stress and strain on your muscles, increasing your risk of injury, muscle strain and cramps (e.g. poor running techniques like rolling the foot on impact).
- Use of certain medications – e.g. diuretics.
One of the most common causes of muscle spasms and cramps in athletes is electrolyte deficiency, particularly magnesium deficiency.
Are you missing magnesium?
Magnesium is an essential nutrient and is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function and helps your cells create energy. Early signs of magnesium deficiency can include:
- Muscle cramps and spasms
- Muscle tension
- Stress, nervousness and anxiety
- Fatigue and low energy
Recommended daily intakes are rarely achieved
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium in Australia is currently 320 mg/day for men and 270 mg/day for women. It is estimated the average Western diet should theoretically deliver about 360 mg of magnesium daily, ensuring magnesium RDI’s are met. Magnesium is plentiful in nature and the best sources of magnesium are green vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, and chocolate. Other food sources containing moderate amounts of magnesium include vegetables, fruits, meats, and fish. Whether Australians are achieving the RDI of magnesium though is questionable, as a modern Australian diet often compromises magnesium intake. Food processing and cooking can also deplete magnesium content, further contributing to the high percentage of the population whose magnesium intake is below the recommended daily intake.
Most diets are deficient in magnesium
It can be difficult to get an adequate supply of magnesium from your diet alone, with modern diet and lifestyles contributing to magnesium deficiency as they can increase your daily magnesium requirements. For example, factors like stress, alcohol and an increased consumption of tea and coffee can deplete magnesium levels. Exercise can also increase your magnesium requirements.
What's the best form of magnesium?
Commonly used forms of magnesium (magnesium salts) often found in sports drinks, tend to break up (dissociate) in your digestive system to release free magnesium. Strangely enough this is not ideal because having a lot of magnesium floating around in your digestive system can cause diarrhoea. Endura Sports Nutrition uses a patented form of magnesium – Meta Mag™ or magnesium diglycinate. Meta Mag™ is a form of magnesium that does not dissociate, so it is far less likely to cause gastric upsets and diarrhoea. Magnesium diglycinate is also highly absorbable and is better utilised by the cells in your body to make energy and keep you healthy. For these reasons Meta Mag™ (magnesium diglycinate) is therefore one of the best forms of magnesium to take if you are magnesium deficient and looking to supplement. Why take chances and risk experiencing side effects?
Endura formulas contain magnesium glycinate
Endura has a number of key formulas that contain therapeutic levels of magnesium diglycinate, including the following:
- Endura Rehydration Formula provides high quality carbohydrates, electrolytes and specific key minerals, magnesium, potassium and sodium, which are in high demand during endurance sports. This is a scientifically advanced rehydration drink that is designed to replace glycogen and electrolytes in optimal ratios to aid in faster re-hydration. It includes therapeutic doses of magnesium diglycinate to help relieve muscular aches, prevent cramping and improve stamina. Consuming Endura Rehydration Formula before, during and after endurance exercise can help prevent blood glucose levels falling too low, help replenish the body's glycogen stores and reduce exercise induced muscle breakdown.
- Endura Max delivers high doses of magnesium, taurine and B vitamins to ensure the body has the necessary building blocks for optimal stamina. Just 2 serves of Endura Max per day will be sufficient, delivering 6 g of taurine and 600 mg of magnesium. Endura Max is not a specific rehydration formula but is recommended in conjunction with Endura Rehydration Formula for optimal hydration, cramp prevention and magnesium replenishment.
What other ways can cramps be managed?
As well as these supplements, additional ways you can help assist and manage cramps and spasms include:
- Lengthening the cramping muscle using a gentle, sustained stretch then lightly massaging the area until the cramp subsides. If you are unsure how to stretch leg muscles, see your physiotherapist for advice.
- In cases of severe cramping, applying an icepack for a few minutes can help the muscle to relax.
- Incorporating regular stretching into your fitness routine.
- Warming up and cooling down thoroughly whenever you exercise or play sport.
- A regular massage may help to reduce muscle tension.
- Wearing properly fitted shoes during training and competition.
- Checking your running technique – If you think your running technique may be causing problems see your physiotherapist for information and advice.
- Most cases of simple cramps require no treatment other than patience and stretching. Gently and gradually stretching and massaging the affected muscle may ease the pain and hasten recovery.
- Drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercise – especially in the hot, humid months.
- Making sure your diet is nutritionally adequate and includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
If you suffer from frequent cramps and spasms, don’t let it stop you from achieving your best this summer – let Endura help!
* References available on request