Anyone who has experienced the agony of a muscle cramp in the middle of an activity knows how painful and disruptive they can be. Hardworking muscles that suddenly involuntary contract can literally stop you in your tracks leaving you immobilized and in pain until the spasm stops. Muscle cramps are most common in the calf region, and can last anywhere from a few seconds to a whole day. Muscle cramps aren’t limited to workouts, and can occur even hours after exercise or when trying to relax while going to sleep.
Cramps can be caused by a variety of factors, one of the most common are not warming up properly prior to working out. Cramps can also be caused by muscles being unable to relax properly due to mineral deficiency or lactic acid buildup from overworking a muscle. Other causes include misfiring nerves from neurological conditions or from certain medications.
Preventing cramps can be done by stretching before a workout or going to bed. Staying hydrated is an excellent way to minimize risk of cramps, fluids can help muscles relax and contract and less likely to cramp up. Another preventative measure is the addition of more potassium and magnesium to one’s diet. These minerals can help the regulation of muscle contraction and conduction of nerve signals. These minerals are electrolytes and are present in foods like leafy greens, sweet potatoes, bananas, and black beans as well as in sports drinks.
Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals in our bodies that have a number of important biological functions. Electrolytes regulate fluid levels and ph of blood, help blood clotting, and tissue creation. But the more important functions for the discussion of muscle cramps are the conduction of nerve signals and the enabling of muscle contraction.
Before a workout, consume electrolytes through a well-balanced diet. During and after a workout, sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade are can help replenish electrolytes lost in sweat improving athletic performance. For long runs, bike rides, and stand-up paddles an excellent solution is Mazama’s DUAL bladder. No need for an extra bottle, just one container holds both water and a sports drink. DUAL features front and back fluid chambers, just add water to one and your favorite -ade to the other. Each fluid chamber is connected to its own drink tube so you can access water or electrolytes at any time. Mazama’s DUAL bladder comes in 2 and 3 L sizes and includes our taste-free, USA-made film.