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Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent? (Read 1165 times)

Offline Bob

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Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
« on: June 11, 2014, 12:24:07 AM »
Walking, jogging....

I ended up with my calf muscles feeling kind of cramped up.

How do I get rid of that when it happens?

And how do I prevent that?  I'm thinking it's stretching, except I don't want to mess with that...  ::)
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline j_menz

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #1 on: June 11, 2014, 05:17:29 AM »
I don't get calf cramps from exercising. I prevent them by avoiding all exercise.

And gin and tonics are a good prophylaxis, just in case exercise becomes minimally unavoidable.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline starlady

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #2 on: June 11, 2014, 05:34:15 AM »
What one hears in the running community about cramps:

1) J-menz is right about gin and tonic, but scientific honesty forces me that the gin is seconday and it's the quinine in the tonic that prevents cramps. Be sure the tonic water has real quinine, not artificial flavour.

2) Bananas are also good, if less tasty.

3) To release a cramp, grab the toes and pull the foot up and towards you (dorsiflex) as hard as you can. 

---s.


Offline j_menz

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #3 on: June 11, 2014, 05:54:40 AM »
scientific honesty forces me that the gin is seconday and it's the quinine in the tonic that prevents cramps. Be sure the tonic water has real quinine, not artificial flavour.

True. You can also buy quinine tablets, either online or from your pharmacist. 


Not nearly as much fun, but people who jog generally rank pretty low on the hedonism scale anyway.
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility. There are so few of us left" -- Oscar Levant

Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #4 on: June 11, 2014, 07:02:34 AM »
Keeping hydrated is important and a long hot bath afterwards helps.

If you are not used to this kind of exercise, it will get better as your muscles become used to the work.

Cycling makes my thighs and calfs feel tight but not cramped. It is a good feeling.

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Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #5 on: June 11, 2014, 07:22:05 AM »
Aren't cramps due to lack of calcium or something physiological about muscle contractions?  If you can contract it but not relax it, then something may not be removing the Ca from its receptors.

Offline Bob

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #6 on: June 11, 2014, 11:30:19 AM »
I'd like to be in better shape for walking/jogging/running.  I've got the bike down well enough. 

These are normal "hey, this muscle hasn't worked like that for a while" type of cramps.

How does quinine prevent muscle cramps?  That might be interesting.



I do the toe thing normally.  The muscles want to be stretched back out.

Although I suppose they would go away after a while too. More use, they adjust.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline indianajo

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #7 on: June 11, 2014, 09:19:20 PM »
Stretching is good, I do the US Army "Daily dozen".
Calf cramps were very common in ROTC camp summer of '69, the sergeants said it was lack of potassium.  Salt pills were handed out; many trainees took 6 to 10 a day, I took one.  My cramps stopped.  
Sports drink like "gatoraide" used to contain useful levels of potassium, but in the culture of more is better and drinking a gallon of gatoraide a day, the potassium content has been drastically lowered.  Sports drinks now are mostly sugar.  I did drink a gallon of WATER a day the summer I unloaded trucks in the Houston heat, but not gatoraide.  I used to sweat my jeans soaking wet, that summer.  
Bananas a nice way to get potassium if they don't make you vomit (which they do me).  Bananas go stale awfully fast, and you have to buy them fresh on the weekly grocery trip whether the weather is hot and dry (causing sweating) or cold and rainy, causing indoor activities with no potassium excretion.  
Physicians are a lot more worried now about "potassium poisoning" than about leg cramps, so it is difficult to get a physician to recommend pottassium supplements. In view of the 10 salt pills a day, or the gallons of gatoraide drunk by "real men",  I would refuse to give advice to the testosterone poisoned, either. I hear the stupidist "training" handed out down at the gym I joined this year,  to keep my winter slump from being quite as bad as last year.     These trainers are professionals? I think I got better advice in the Army.  Bulking up is stupid IMHO, amazing weightlifting feats are for men who intend to sit in front of a TV after age 35, whereas my goals are maintaining 70% of the strength I had in my younger days (I'm 63), keeping my stomach small and my gluteals padded, and exercising my heart enough to prevent symptoms common in American males. (sudden death, heart attacks, heart pains, stents, blockages).  
Now when I get leg cramps in the summer (when I ride 70 miles per week on the bicycle plus carry trash cans of limbs to the sinkhole for several hours a day) I put a sprinkle of Morton's "lite salt" which is 50% potassium chloride on my food. One or twice a week a sprinkle, not every meal.    I use no extra sodium salt at all.  I get plenty of sodium from canned chili or microwave beef stew etc.  It is hard to avoid sodium, which didn't used to bother me but since age 62 can cause a 4 psi surge in blood pressure if I eat 5 grams of sodium (TGI Friday's Potato Skins cheddar & bacon flavor is my vice of choice these days, along with liters of RC Diet Rite cola, which is apparenbly harmless). 
I can also get calf cramps in the right leg only from sleeping on my back on a pillow.  I view this as possibly caused by a collapsing disk,  I refuse to talk to a doctor about it.  My Mother was treated for collapsed disk: the surgery caused her great pain every day of the remainder of her life, and the  muscle relaxant pills ruined her near vision.  So this is a case of the possible cures being worse than the disease, IMHO.  I sleep on my side to eliminate this cramp.  

Offline Bob

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #8 on: June 17, 2014, 11:34:44 PM »
Can't tell if bananas and potassium pills or just more exercise and walking help. 

Still have sore calf muscles....
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline indianajo

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #9 on: June 23, 2014, 02:54:58 AM »
When I discuss calf cramps, I have memories of college sophomore men at 2 AM moaning in their bunks with their lower legs turned back at weird angles to their thighs.  This can't have been good for the knee tendons.  At a lower level, when "salt" deficient the large muscles of the leg will start twitching painfully, making large involuntary movements and yanking on the tendons. 1969 ROTC summer camp was hot physical and sweaty, and these extremely painful episodes were pretty frequent the first couple of weeks until everybody got the message about salt pills.  We were stretching every morning in the Army "daily dozen".  Stretching is another important technique to reduce pain and increase muscle flexibility.
However, any physical training regime that maintains muscle mass will cause soreness at least three days a week.  I expect to cause muscle soreness by exercise into my late 90's and hopefully beyond.  BBCnews summarized Aug 8, 2011 an article published in Archives of Internal Medicine, lead author Prof James Fries.  Fifty year old "runners", after 19 years of study, had died at half the rate of others,  and exhibited less cancer, neurological disease, infections, and other causes.
My knees are too damaged to run, but I intend to do something aerobic, like cutting wood, bicycling or moving pianos, until I can't anymore.  This will involve soreness, the day after a good workout.  That is life.  

Offline Bob

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #10 on: June 23, 2014, 04:21:06 AM »
Hm. Interesting.  Five days later.  Soreness is totally gone.  And it went away a while ago, at least a day or two.  I was just thinking today it was a week or two already. 
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline pianoman8

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #11 on: July 04, 2014, 10:03:52 PM »
In order to get rid of muscle spasms have a banana before or after your workout. Also, if you do not hydrate water then you get muscle spasms. Drinking water generally helps out with a lot of different things. Eating a little before you exercises also helps prevent lightheadedness, dizziness, nauseua, etc...

Offline Bob

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Re: Calf cramps from exercise, how to get rid of/prevent?
«Reply #12 on: July 05, 2014, 12:04:48 AM »
Interestingly enough... Soreness is gone, pretty much. It's not at all like it was.  I did a banana/day for a week.  If that was it.  I also got potassium pills and still take those.

Solutions?
More exercise. 
Stretching out the "sore joints" which really aren't sore joints.  It's tight muscles around the joints. Work those more, stretch them out, etc.  soreness disappears.

There was one day walking felt fine, but the moment I started trying to jog it felt like my legs/calves/"joints" were brittle chalk. 

Interesting stuff.  I also noticed I have a feeling of more time. I crammed in time to exercise which makes me busier, but it feels like I have more time.  Probably true if I have more energy.  Or I'm more relaxed. 
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."