Ep. 18 – Dedication to Education

This week we cover something that cripples athletes during training, playing and competition all of the time! CRAMPING.
We’ve all had it and it sucks. it’s funny, we still don’t have a conclusive reason as to why we get Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps (EAMC) – They’re still very much theories. We have two that are leading the way;
  1. Altered Neuromuscluar Control theory.
  2. Water/Salt Imbalance theory.
I remember the old school calf cramp solution; a bag of ready salted crisps #PerformanceNutrition – Good job bro! But, is there any logic to this. Whenever we think of cramping, we always think of electrolytes and hydration first. However, the strongest evidence lies within neuromuscular fatigue.

NEUROMUSCULAR FATIGUE.

**To over-science this; muscle fatigue affects the balance between the excitatory drive from muscle spindles and the inhibitory drive from the Golgi tendon organs (GTO)** Dafuq? Simply put; You overload the muscle, the nervous system contracts the same muscle but doesn’t get the message to relax it. Therefore, become stuck in it’s contracted state.

HYDRATION/ELECTROLYTES.

This is the most common belief of cramping. But there’s an issue. Muscle cramps are localized to a specific site, where electrolyte/sodium depletion and dehydration are systemic, i.e. all of the body. There’s some evidence to suggest that ‘salty sweating’ caused cramps. but it’s unclear how this would result in localised symptoms. Theoretically, sodium and potassium helps your nerves send electrical signals for your muscle to contract. Therefore, a depletion in sodium will interfere with this. BUT, the data is very limited on this as a direct cause. By all means, don’t rule hydration and electrolytes out as there’s some links between the two, however ‘science’ doesn’t really know why yet. Therefore, managing cramps needs to encompass a triad of RECOMMENDATIONS (Jahic and Begic, 2018);
  1. Managing training load.
  2. Stretching.
  3. Hydration & Electrolytes.
  4. Massages.
Be mindful of these and let cramps be a thing of the past!

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