As the summer creeps up, this week's Toque Torque Coaching training tip discusses cramping! After a bad episode of cramping at the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, Alabama, I reassessed my electrolyte education. And after seven cramp-free races at Speedweek, here is are some of the tips I've picked up.
1) Within 30 minutes of the start, drink 1-2 bottles of water with a heavy mixture of electrolyte drink. However add 1 tbsp of fine sea salt as well. Plus 250 mg of magnesium in supplement form (note that if you bought the 500 mg capsules, take them apart and add the remaining amount into one of your racing bottles).
2) Drink water consistently throughout the day but focus on drinking large amounts after the race. We are talking 2-4 bottles when your post-race protein shake and other drinks are included. Don't want to wake up with a headache, especially when you have to race the next day!
Here is a little bit of information on cramping from Tracy Higgs, BHK, RNCP. "Electrolytes – Cramping your style!" . In reading the article I found that even I was confused a little bit.
There are three main causes of muscle cramps:
1) Lack of magnesium
3) Electrolyte imbalances: calcium, chloride, sodium and potassium.
Improper calcium to magnesium ratios do not allow an active muscle to relax. Dehydration causes a decrease in blood volume, resulting in inadequate blood flow to the muscle. Electrolyte imbalances
decrease electrical activity in the muscle and therefore the muscle does not return to rest after an activity as it should.
Whether you are an athlete or not, the consequences of cramping can range from an irritating calf cramp in the night that disrupts your sleep to a pulled muscle in the middle of a competition that knocks you out of competition. To avoid cramping the key ingredient is prevention.
To prevent cramping you need to stay hydrated and ensure you consume an adequate amount of minerals on a daily basis. Avoiding dehydration means drinking, 6-8 glasses of water on average plus EXTRA during hot weather, sweating or endurance activities. As a general rule you should consume enough water after exercise to bring your body weight up to equal what it was when you started. Caffeine, alcohol, salty foods and a diet high in animal protein will increase your need for extra water as well to avoid dehydration.
Meeting your bodies minerals needs, means eating from a variety of sources of fruit vegetables and grains. An example source of each mineral are listed below:
Potassium: Avocados, lima beans, potatoes, tomatoes, bananas, fish, dried apricots, spinach and almonds;
Sodium: Generally found naturally in most foods;
Calcium: Kelp, tofu, kale, turnip, and green leafy vegetables, soy milk, almonds, dandelion greens, brazil nuts, goat’s milk, seeds, brewer’s yeast, figs and of course dairy products;
Magnesium:Whole grains, dark green vegetables, molasses, nuts, seafood and legumes.