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Leg Cramps (Night Cramps)

elyte-bannerLeg cramps can be very painful and are fairly common. A leg cramp is a spasm that comes from a muscle in the leg. It usually occurs in one of the calf muscles below and behind the knee. Sometimes, the small muscles of the feet can be affected, as wells as the hands.

night-crampsTypically, a cramp lasts a few minutes. In some cases, it lasts only seconds, but it can last for up to ten minutes. The muscle may remain tender after a severe leg cramp for as long as 24 hours. Leg cramps usually occur when you are resting – most commonly at night when in bed (night cramps). They may awaken you from your sleep and can become a distressing condition if your sleep is regularly disturbed.

Many people experience an occasional leg cramp but they do appear to be more common in older people. Approximately, one out of three people, over the age of 60, have regular leg cramps. This figure increases to around 50% for people over the age of 80.

There has been considerable uncertainty in the literature regarding the classification and nomenclature of muscle cramps. The term “cramp” is used to indicate a variety of clinical features of muscles, leading to its use as an imprecise “catch-all” term that includes stiffness, contractures and local pain. The cause is not known in most cases. However, working with high performing athletes has provided us with some insights into muscle function and the electrolytes that drive all muscle function.

Sodium Closes (constricts) and Potassium Opens (relaxes)

In essence, the closing and relaxing of a muscle is dependent on the four mineral horseman of function, calcium (Ca), sodium (Na), magnesium (Mg), and potassium (K). Sodium constricts and potassium relaxes, with Ca and Mg initiating each phase of the action. If an individual is low in potassium, it appears that that singular event of low potassium can be sufficient to permit a cramp to occur. Without enough potassium available to complete the relaxing cycle, a random signal (or even a conscious one) to close by an out of balanced condition can leave almost any muscle in a locked position.

To understand sodium’s influence on the closing of a muscle and potassium’s role in engineering the reverse (the opening), it could be helpful, though somewhat macabre, to examine the procedure for executions. Generally, the act of hanging was replaced by electrocution, which was in turn abandoned by the painless, yet highly efficient act, of an injection of a high concentrated solution of potassium. Flooding the body with potassium forces all muscles to relax. Eventually the concentration of potassium becomes so high that it dwarfs the normal balance with sodium, thereby restricting any ability to affect a normal muscle function. The net result is to block the beating of the heart. In effect the prisoner relaxes to death.

Essentially an execution by injection is the reverse of a cramp. The execution is clearly an excess of potassium and the cramp appears to be the reverse. The injection of potassium overwhelms the normal balance of sodium and robs it of its ability to initiate muscle function; the body cannot begin any function, you couldn’t even blink your eye. The reverse of high sodium (or to be more precise, the absence of sufficient potassium) is an imbalance that sets up a condition for a cramp to occur. The poor individual with insufficient potassium on hand may not be able to relax that muscle and must message or stretch the knotted jumble of muscle to force some potassium into the cells to turn off the tight cramping condition.

The potential cure for a cramp would logically be to have available sufficient stores of potassium. However, magnesium also plays an important role in muscle function, so it is necessary to insure an adequate supply of magnesium. Calcium is also important, but there is a ready supply from our storehouse of bone which appears to be sufficient for muscle function. However, the supply of sufficient Ca and Mg as we age, is often insufficient, even though normal blood test results suggest there is enough. But, that is a subject beyond this current discussion of cramps.

The true details concerning when and why a cramp may occur is still a mystery. However, our work with a large number of athletes and our success with a concentrated electrolyte drink is worthy of investigation. Check out the ElyteSport’s testimonials where you will find a large number of former “ crampers” from many walks of life. Their comments in their own words searching to find an answer to stop those pesky cramps could hold your answer as well.

More:
The E-Lyte Story: Why You Need Electrolytes!
Sugar Free Electrolytes
Compare E-Lyte Sport with other “Sports” drinks
Pickle Juice
Taking A Peek Inside a Muscle Cramp
Night Cramps
ElyteSport Preloading

Other References:
References depicting the difficulty within the Medical Community to Resolve “Cramping”


The information contained in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Inclusion here does not imply any endorsement or recommendation. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified medical provider for all medical problems prior to starting any new regiment.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Taking A Peek Inside a Muscle Cramp

muscle-crampsCramping is one of the most common complaints of athletes. It can occur at any time but more often at the tail end of their workout. Cramps are a one way street in the complete cycle of muscle action. All body motion is controlled by the opening and closing of ion channels that sit in the membranes of all cells. Sodium (Na) contracts the cell and potassium (K) relaxes it. Similar action occurs to transmit a thought with Na and K triggering neurons (depolarizing) to both transmit and fire. In effect the electrolytes do it all. You can’t blink your eye or even see or hear without them.

A heart cell begins the process with Calcium (Ca) signaling the Na ion channel to open to begin the contraction cycle. There are hundreds of Na and K ion channels on each cell. A half second later Magnesium (Mg) encourages K to rush in which relaxes the cell. That’s the beat of your heart or the closing of your fist. With a heart cell the cycle is non stop; constrict with Na and relax with K. Its quite easy to see what happens when a muscle cramps. In essence you have half a beat. If a cramp hits your heart, you’re history, but in a different muscle you’ll hurt, but recover. If you’re swimming in a race half way home, it could be a disaster. Whenever it happens, it’s the guys in charge of the relaxing half of the cycle, Mg and K, that are missing.

Often, athletes who are pushing the envelope sense a tingling of sorts, in say a leg muscle, before it tightens. A swig of ElyteSport could be a G-D send at that moment because it contains a high concentration of both K and Mg. (Check out the exact numbers at elytesport.com – Compare Sport Drinks).

“ I don’t cramp any more!” We hear this from our elite athletes. All of them also say that they last longer. They don’t see an improvement in performance or time, but they are able to stay at a strong performance rate for a longer time. (Read Nicole and Ron’s comments on the athletes spotlight). I would argue that if you can train longer, the logic would be that you would also increase muscle mass, or improve the flow of nutrients to a more efficient level, which, over time makes you stronger and better. But I leave the proof to the performers.

Actually, what is happening, is that the high K concentration is sufficient to complete the back side of the heart beat, or leg pump, etc. Without those 2 electrolytes Mg and K, in plentiful supply, your muscles have only the first half of the action potential to work on. Over time, that’s a one way street, that can end up as a cramp. Cramps don’t usually occur when your doing sprints, they are the result of cellular stress (loss of electrolytes) over long workouts. What ElyteSport does is make sure that you have enough K and Mg to complete the back side of the muscle pump.

A number of coaches have tried “pickle juice” to prevent cramping in hot weather. Pickle juice is predominantly vinegar. Vinegar is acetic acid, and is used to remove sodium (Na) with individuals with high blood sodium levels. The coaches are lowering their athletes Na levels to prevent the first half of the muscle cycle instead of making sure that they have enough of all the electrolytes needed. Lower Na and you may not begin the cramp. Not exactly what the doctor ordered, but it can work.

However, you are removing Na to restore balance, instead of providing the correct electrolytes that the body needs at that moment, which is ……..Mg and K. Training logic says that you want as high a level of electrolytes as possible, all the time, not robbing one, Na, to achieve balance. ElyteSport is perfectly designed to address the problem of cramping, and very possibly, the big one after that, and that is the potential loss of an athlete that could not handle the extremes of temperature and high performance workouts. If you’re in training, a coach, or a trainer, you owe it to yourself and your athletes to check out ElyteSport.

More:
The E-Lyte Story: Why You Need Electrolytes!
Sugar Free Electrolytes
Compare E-Lyte Sport with other “Sports” drinks
Pickle Juice
Taking A Peek Inside a Muscle Cramp
Night Cramps
ElyteSport Preloading

Other References:
References depicting the difficulty within the Medical Community to Resolve “Cramping”


The information contained in this web site is for educational purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Inclusion here does not imply any endorsement or recommendation. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified medical provider for all medical problems prior to starting any new regiment.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.