I am pretty sure that you have either experienced cramps during working out, or that you know someone that has. So, why do some people get cramps, while others in the exact same conditions don’t.
Believe it or not, we still don’t know exactly what causes cramps. Let me clarify, from an action point of view there are some common causes to a cramp. For instance muscle overuse, dehydration, muscle strain or even holding a position for a long time could all cause a cramp. But, the exact reason that the muscle cramps is not always known.
One thing that is for sure, if you are cramping something is out of balance. Electrolytes are commonly thought to be the culprit as is salt. But, new studies are disproving these theories.
“Although the idea that mineral deficiencies and dehydration can cause cramps has been very popular, we have done many, many studies that do not prove these as causes for cramps during exercise,” said Martin Schwellnus of the Department of Human Biology at the University of Cape Town, who conducted a number of these studies.
So, if it is not salt or dehydration, what is it? The most likely reason that I have found, is that during muscle fatigue there is a failure in the neural communications. We have all noticed muscles becoming twitchy when they are worked harder. Is cramping just one really large twitch?
If so, then it stands to reason that the better shape we get in then it is less likely that the muscles will cramp. Which according to Schwellenus is the case.
“The mechanism for muscle fatigue and muscle damage causing cramping is best explained through an imbalance that develops in the nervous system control of muscle. Muscles tend to become very twitchy when they become fatigued or are injured,” said Schwellnus. You’re more likely to get cramps, then, when your muscles are working harder and are fatiguing, such when you’re out of shape or racing hard.
Great. So, I have to be in better shape to not get cramps. But, what do I do while a cramp strikes? I have experienced great success with pickle juice. Almost an instantaneous relief, in fact. An article on runnersconnect.net explores this in greater detail. Here are some of their findings:
“The effects of the pickle juice were rapid and impressive: The control cramps and the cramps followed by water consumption lasted over two minutes, while cramps followed by pickle juice consumption lasted less than a minute and a half—a reduction of over 25%!”
“The researchers propose that the acidic pickle juice triggers a reflex when it hits a nerve centre on the back of the throat. This reflex sends a signal to the nervous system to shut down the overactive neurons causing the cramp.”
Read more at http://runnersconnect.net/running-nutrition-articles/pickle-juice-muscle-cramps/
So, to sum it up. Nobody can tell me for sure what is the cause of cramps, but luckily they can tell me how to treat them and to an extent prevent them.