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Sports massage - worth a rub?

Quick one.

I'm doing the Paris Marathon (April 11th) so am approaching the 'taper phase' stage of training. With trying to keep the weight in check, I have probably not taken on enough fuel for a couple of big training runs which has meant I have finished with some pretty big hamstring cramps.

Fuelling up properly will obviously start to resolve the cramp issue, but, after months of training, would a big massage help and stop the heavy cramping??



  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    If by cramp you mean spontaneous painful muscle contraction that stops you dead on the spot then nutrition may not be the problem. The evidence for it being caused by dehydration is very dubious indeed & I've seen no research relating to poor nutrition. The big problem being that scientists cannot reproduce cramp in tha lab to order. Good nutrition & correct (not 'hyper') hydration are essential for good performance in any case. If by cramp you mean a general tightening & soreness during or after the run you may have muscle tightness/damage to some of the hamstring muscle fibres - a problem I had which was cured by remedial massage.

    Cramp is most likely caused by disruption to the balance of automatic contraction & relaxation nerve signals to the working muscles, basically a reduction in the relaxation signals (these are there to prevent possible damage to the body in particular situations). This disruption is most often brought on by fatigue - remember that exercise trains not only muscles and the cardiovascular system by also the nervous system. It can also be brought on if you try to use a tired muscle differently (e.g. if you trip or stumble) or if there is a bit of muscle damage/tightness and the other muscle groups try to compensate.

    A good sports/remedial massage is always worth having & should remove any muscle damage/tightness so eliminating that possible problem. Hamstrings, glutes & adductors are notoriously tight muscles in the population as a whole and in runners in particular.

    Have a good run in Paris.
  • Compression post training is always a good idea.
  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166
    If you train a lot, you're sweating a lot. So how about salt deficiency? Or has that been ruled out these days? (still here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cramp). Since I've started eating salted peanuts before swimming I've not had so much cramp in the pool.
    I've also heard that chelated magnesium helps (has to be chelated as there are bowel side effects with mg citrate and normal mg tablets dont get absorbed... apparently..)
  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    The sad thing is that there is still no universdaly agreed cause of sports induced cramp that answers all the questions raised (maybe the makes of electrolytic drinks have some questions to answer here). Even when it is agreed it may take years for the truth to totally replace the folklore. Remember that the true cause of DOMS (yes willieverfnish, compression kit has a place in recovery) was described first in 1902 & yet how many coaches and commentators still ascribe DOMS to the build up of lactic acid?

    The problem with the sodium/salt depletion theory is that sweat contains a lower concentration of sodium than does blood (about one 7th for a reasonably fit athlete) . Therefore sweating should make the blood more salty. Eating salt should make it saltier still. Fortunately the body is quite good at regulating salinity but don't try drinking sea water which is about 4 times saltier than blood.

    Research into crampers & non-crampers competing in an Ironman & ultramarathon found that the crampers actually lost less body weight/fluid than non-crampers. Sodium concentrations were within what is considered the normal range.

    If your peanuts contained 1 to 1.5g salt/100g of peanuts you would need to eat around 95g of them to replace the salt lost in one litre of dilute/athletes sweat (beware my dodgy arithmetic). I love peanuts too. Maybe the peanuts have other ingredients that help. They do contain about 26% protein which is essential for repairing/ building muscle tissue & many athletes don't have enough in their diet. Who knows? Certainly not me unless my stab in the dark proves right for which the Nobel prize for science would be most welcome!
  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166
    Okay, I'm just playing here as I havent got the foggiest about what I'm talking about really and I got into a bit of a google frenzy as I was interested...

    So lets take a ready fact that google turned up: Guyton's Textbook of Medical Physiology states that "the total amount of water in a man of average weight (70 kilograms) is approximately 40 liters, averaging 57 percent of his total body weight.

    Say he loses 1 litre of sweat.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweat says sweat content is sodium 0.9 gram/liter, potassium 0.2 gram/liter, calcium 0.015 gram/liter, magnesium 0.0013 gram/liter

    Blood has 9g sodium per litre, so our man has 40litres x 9g = 360g sodium in his blood.

    So losing 1 litre sweat = 0.9g/360g = 0.25% drop in sodium levels leaving him with 351g sodium in his blood.

    Now if the people who get cramp are not losing as much weight as those that dont one might infer they are drinking more fluid. If they drink 1 litre of water, their salt level is as follows:

    351g in 39litres (351/39) = 9 g/litre (with no water)
    351g in 40litres (351/40) = 8.775 g/litre (+1 litre water)

    e.g. due to drinking, a drop in sodium level occurs of 1-(8.775/9) = 2.5%

    To put this in context:

    Lets consider Hyponatremia, which is an electrolyte disturbance in which the sodium concentration in the plasma is lower than normal , specifically below 135 mEq/L (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyponatremia)

    Normal blood sodium levels are 136 to 145 mEq/L of blood.

    So the range of depletion to reach hyponatremia is

    Upper end: 135/145 = 7.9% drop
    Lower end: 135/136 = 0.8% drop

    In the context of that range it is conceivable that a 2.5% drop in sodium levels might cause an issue.

    Maybe??? ;-)

    Yep, I love my nuts, but I love Soreen far more.

  • hitman786hitman786 Posts: 37
    I suspect the electrolyte imbalance...Electrolyte pills solved the problem easily. You should better pay attention to hydration.
  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    Didn't give the fugures before but in the two studies of actual races the sodium levels were:

    Crampers 139.8 & 140
    Non-crampers 142.3 & 143

    Both well within the normal range
  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166
    No worries...not my original question btw.

    I did say I was unqualified, but it was interesting looking so I thought I'd share what I found (even though I did subtract 360-0.9 to get 351). Even though they are within 'normal range', Harry's latest figures do show a 1.5%-2.2% difference in sodium levels for crampers and non-crampers....

    Appreciate that lifes not quite so straight forward.

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