Muscle Cramps and Electrolytes

Untitled Document

Taking A Peek Inside a Muscle Cramp

By Edward Kane

Cramping 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
Night Cramps
ElyteSport Preloading

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. 

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