Saturday, November 5, 2011

Muscle cramps, hydration and sweating

Lately, I've been getting random muscle cramps.  You know the type.  Where all of the sudden your muscle just seizes up on you.  I've always had occasional issues from this when in my feet when they are pointed.  When I was pregnant, I got it in my calves sometimes while asleep.

The last month or so, it's been more then that.  My thighs as well.  Anywhere in my legs.  The only good part is that it's usually when the muscle is at rest.  Either when I'm sleeping or just sitting around.  Except for swimming.  When I'm swimming, my feet and calves are fair game.  It used to just happen towards the end of a swim, when I was tired, but lately it's happening at any point.

The good part is, I can swim through it.  It hurts like hell and I slow to a crawl, but I can keep afloat and keep moving.  Maybe it would be smarter to stop and stretch it out right away, but I need to know that, if it ever happens in open water, I won't drown.  I won't.  So that is good.

Having said that, muscle cramps = no fun.  I've mentioned them to a couple people and the first question is: are you hydrating enough?  My initial reaction is, of course.  I actually quite like water and I drink a lot of it.  I have at least one glass with every meal or snack and drink more throughout the day.

Then, in spin class this week, Angie commented that I must lose 10 pounds in sweat.  It's true.  I was creating a little puddle.  It was hot in there, but I was still definitely sweating more then most people.  I'd like to think that it's because I was the hardest working, but that just isn't true.  Everyone in there was working hard.  Besides which, I started sweating while warming up, before even working hard.

So, now this has me wondering if I actually do drink enough?  During that spin class, I had 2.5 bottles of fluid, but the bike is where I hydrate the best.  I'll often do runs under 10km (6.2mi) without bringing any along.  I usually have a bottle at the pool, but don't drink much.  I'm not sure I make up for it enough after.

I put in a lot of hours training.  Combine that with the fact that I sweat heavily, maybe hydration is the problem after all?  I don't know.  What I do know is that I am going to really focus on getting enough water.  I've been paying attention for the last few days, and no muscle cramps in that time period.  The other possibility is electrolytes or sodium, so if I keep having issues, I'll have to consider that further.

Do you ever get muscle cramps?  What do you find prevents them?  How do you make sure you get enough fluids in?


  1. Sounds like hydration could be the culprit. Perhaps also consider if you get enough salt, calcium and magnesium as well?

  2. I would really look into the electrolytes thing. Try popping some Nuun into a drink bottle and see what you think.

  3. I don't know if this kind of thing is hereditary or not, but I often have the same sort of cramps. Or it might be that we both engage in vigourous exercise. One thing I can say for certain is that pregnancy hasn't had any bearing on my cramps. ;-)

    Some people have told me hydration might be relevant; I've always drank plenty of water because I sweat a lot and I have attempted to drink a little extra water rather than not enough. Can't hurt and I like water too.

    In my case, I get cramps mostly in the back of the calves at night. These hurt more partially because my bicycling pushing muscles are much stronger and it's hard to fight them. I have to stand and press down to get rid of these cramps. I have eliminated the occurrence of these cramps somewhat by stretching the back of my legs at the end of every bike ride. I stand and pedal backwards until a foot is at its lowest point and then I drop my heel as far as possible and hold it for 5 seconds or so. Then the other leg and back and forth a few times. Seems to help.

    Occasionally my feet try to have a cramp while cycling, but I can always stop those by standing and cycling hard to max speed a few times. I do that most rides anyway.

    Since I can't run and seldom swim, I have no comment in those areas.

    Meanwhile, it's just hit 10.1°C here, so I'm going for a ride!

  4. Low calcium can also cause muscle cramps, especially in the legs. Leg cramps can also be caused by a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Are you fatigued and tired as well? If so, you may want to get your Vit B12 checked.

  5. You may also want to try eating bananas. Potassium rich foods can help stave off cramps. Give it a try! :)

  6. I always have a water bottle with me at all times. I find that if it's within sight, I'll drink it. If it's not, then I'll completely forget about hydration until I'm really thirsty

  7. I found that I got cramps only when swimming (pre-preg). I drank lots of water throughout the day and Gatorade at the pool, plus ate a banana a day! That seemed to help, as did relaxing my feet/toes!

    I find keeping hydrated is easier during the week as I make sure I always have a full glass of water on my desk. On the weekends it's a little harder as I am moving around more and don't have a routine.