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Nutrition for Cramping

Hi all

I have severe issues with cramping in my quads and hamstrings when doing tris of all different distances. I make sure I drink plenty leading up to a race and ensure that during a race I take some form of electrolytes but am still affected by bad cramping. I also make sure I have a banana before the race.

Does anyone know if there is such a thing as a anti-cramp supplement that could help or a nutrition schedule to follow in the run up to a race e.g. taking pottasium/electrolyte supplements for a week before the race?

Any advice would help.

On another note I used some compression shin guards this weekend for a 120k bike ride and I think the might have helped. I might try wearing compression shorts during the next race to see if that helps.


  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    You need to stretch more dude....

    You can take as much electrolytes as you want but if the muscles are not stretch/ warmed up properly then you will cramp up.
  • MadyakaMadyaka Posts: 2

    Why dont you think about your sciatic nerve also. If it gets tight or spasms it will put a muscle into spasms in order to protect itself. As the sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the body it can cause pain / discomfort anywhere in the body.
    When you do a hamstring stretch do you feel tightness in the calf or back of your knee? If so then the nerve is tight and no amount of stretching is going to release it. How many times have you stretched your hamstrings over the last month? Can you get any further into the stretch? Or are you at the same point at each time?

  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    Most people only stick to static stretching though.

    Dynamic stretching would be beneifical.
  • guy_coxguy_cox Posts: 6
    Just a passing note. Did my first 3.6k swim last weekend in Human race open series. Had shocking cramp in calves in last 500 to the extent I had to swim with my toes pointing up (not too streamlined) and when I got out couldn't bend either leg for fear of them never straightening again.

    I had plenty of liquids in the previous 24 hours to the extent I could do a 1hr18m olympic with the same preperation without issu. I had breakfast, ZipVit Z1 400ml drink and banana more than an hour before and a go go gell 30 minutes before the off.

    So decided it was not actually hydration or nutrients and down to bad circulation. did the swim in a 2XU C:2 wetsuit so perfectly reasonable protection against the elements. My kicking is very much to try and keep my legs up on the surface as opposed to some Thorpedo rear end power generator.

    Having read a bunch of open water swim forums, it seems to be due to circulation, one way or another, whether it is coldness drawing blood/oxygen away from the muscles, dehydration doing the same, or just plain ol bad circulation.

    End result is the same as yours really, I have calf compression and will be sticking them on next time I jump into the lake in a practice swim and see if there is any difference.
  • QuitterQuitter Posts: 160
    shadowone1 wrote:
    You need to stretch more dude....

    You can take as much electrolytes as you want but if the muscles are not stretch/ warmed up properly then you will cramp up.
    I stretch/train (slightly) more then before but I also now add a little extra salt (as opposed to none normally) to my meals and cramps have been significantly reduced/eliminated.

    Cant say what did it....just pleased its gone. 3/4 way through Isle of Mann End to End MTB ride last year both quads locked solid and I just toppled over into the mountain heather. Horrible pain and worse thing is its just so difficult to shift!
  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    Unless there is something seriously wrong with you cramping is most likely to be caused by muscle fatigue. Forget specific supplements & magic potions just keep to a healthy balanced diet.

    To overcome muscle fatigue simply do some strength work on the muscle groups that cramp - in your case hams & quads. If you have access to a gym try leg extensions (quads) & leg curls (hams) or better still use the leg press (hams, quads & glute max) or even better still dumbbell or barbell squats (hams, quads & glute max). Make sure you are shown who to do them properly & build up gradually.

    Calves usually cramp in swimming because the toe is pointed by using the calf muscles at maximum contraction. Not something the calf is called on to do often in real life and so is quite weak in this action. As the position is held isometrically this makes it even more tiring. And finally muscles are generally weak at full extension. The answer is heel raises (eccentric heel dips) with both a straight knee for upper calf (gastrocnemus) or bent knee of 20-30degrees for lower calf (soleus). Let your heel fully drop then lift up onto your toes. Start using both legs then go single leg the do it holding weights. Do one set per leg per straight/bent knee & continue until the burn makes you stop. Once you can do 15-20 go single leg then again add weights when you can do 20.

    I've gone through the above with lots of people and cured their cramping. Might work for you & a lot cheaper than compression kit etc.

    There is one problem - you will be able to race harder so tiring the muscles again to the point of fatigue induced cramping.

    Hope this helps

  • Thanks for the responses all - I think all the responses are really useful but HarryD I think you are right and it comes down to muscle fatigue and in my case lack of conditioning. The muscles just arent used to being pushed that hard for that long.

    I am trying to do everything to combat this and wearing the compression gear definitely helps (might all be mind games) so I think following your advice and the other bits of information will all help.

    Like you said I can push harder as I improve in strength but this will again lead to muscle fatigue at a new level and the solution to this - even harder training/conditionining

    Thanks for the responses - think a combination of compression gear, Nuun/Electrolyte drinks and most importantly muscle conditioning should help with the cramping.
  • have had same prob in the past,
    now eat bannanas day before & hours leading up to race prob solved
  • How good it feels to know that I'm not the only one who suffers from excruciating painful leg cramps - in both the feet/toes and calves during training and events. It has recently got worse with the more training I have been doing and since I have taken up triathlon! I get it in during a number of activities ranging from - during sleep at night, when performing certain moves in a pilates class, low key pool swim session, open water session, and more recently whilst on the bike (trying to unclip at some traffic lights during a training ride, and when coming into T2 in my last Sprint, my leg cramped up, I couldn't unclip, came to a halt and proceeded to fall sideways off the bike in a very embarrassing manner!!

    Having spoken to many people about this and taken on board all of your helpful comments I am hoping I can solve it, the question is which one will work. I have just purchased a pair of compression calf guards which I will definitely be using, I have a very healthy diet, eat a banana everyday with my breakfast, and drink electrolyte drinks with every training session (inc Nuun), I've purchased some magnesium supplements, been recommended Crampex and Dirolite tablets from Boots, and do stretch reasonably well.

    If anybody else has any other suggestions I would love to hear them to save me the embarrassment of falling into a stewards arms at the dismounting line at another event!!
  • TesseractTesseract Posts: 280
    Great timing for me this is...

    I've been fine for years of training. Went on holiday last week to spain, went for a run and got excrutiating pain in my thighs (don't know the technical term, but kinda outer front of thigh). Had to stop, tried tensing, relaxing, stretching and massage (all in the street, I bet the locals thought I was a total nutter of a foreigner!) Nothing helped and I had to hobble/limp back to the hotel.

    I left training for the rest of the holiday, putting it down to poor diet/ beer/ heat. But went for a run today, and felt good for the first 15 mins, then the cramp slowly crept up until again I had to stop, and again led to another slow limp home.

    I'm not sure what's causing it, but the variables that have changed recently are:
    > Ventolin - I've recently started to use it again for my asthma, but only occasionaly for harder sessions, however it does have a reported side effect of cramping, however I've used it several times with no cramp.
    > Heat - discount this one as it wasn't hot today
    > Dehydration - discount this one as I'm well hydrated again (I think based on the usual test )
    > Diet - has been a bit crapper than usual, but not radicaly different. I do usually use supplements which I didn't take on holiday.
    > Stretching/ foam roller - I didn't do any on holiday, but don't do it that often anyway, and never had a problem. One of those I should do more, but never quite get round to it things.

    So overall all I can put it down to is the combination of ventolin and heat/ sweat on holiday depleting my pottasium/ magnesium levels resulting in cramp. So I'm upping my intake for a couple of days - fingers crossed it should sort it out.
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