Is Cramping Genetic

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by hacker_101, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. hacker_101

    hacker_101 New User

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    Hi,

    During club tournaments, you are required to play more than 1 match (possible 3 or 4) in one day. I always cramp during/after a tough 3 setter in the first match.

    I think I hydrate well.

    I drink 2 to 3 bottles of Gatorade the night before.
    I drink 2 to 3 bottles of water the night before.

    I drink the above mentioned during/after the match (depending on how long the match goes).

    I eat salt. I drink tonic water. I eat bananas.

    There must a genetic component as I do see player who look out-of-shape playing 3 matches in one day with no difficulties.

    Am I hydrating too much?
    My question is there anything else that I could do?
    Would a weekly running program help?

    Thanks for any advice.
     
    #1
  2. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Variations in adenosine triphosphate (ATP, of all things!) metabolism are genetically determined and do affect predisposition to cramping.
     
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  3. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Is it good to drink so much electrolyte the previous night?
     
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  4. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    Drinking 4-6 bottles of liquid "the night before" means you'll be peeing your brains out all night and probably play worse for lack of sleep.
     
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  5. hacker_101

    hacker_101 New User

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    Thanks for the replies... Any more ideas on how to prevent cramping when playing multiple matches in one day?
     
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  6. Govnor

    Govnor Professional

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    Where exactly are you cramping? Calves? How much stretching do you do?
     
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  7. hacker_101

    hacker_101 New User

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    Calves is where it starts. Then if I keep playing hard, it spreads to the entire body: hands, stomach, chest, arms. I do some stretching but maybe I will try more.

    There is another player who is in the top 10 in the city and he also has full body cramping. He always gets a bye in the first round so there is a chance he plays only once a day for a weekend tournament. If he plays more than 1 match in day, he has the same issue as myself. He is very fit but to this day cannot find a solution for it. His brother on the other hand is also very good but does not have any issues with cramping.
     
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  8. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Choose your biological parents carefully. :twisted:

    Try some OJ and static stretches 1 hour or more prior to competition. No OJ or static stretches just prior to competition. You should be performing dynamic stretches while warming up. Drink a combination of water or electrolyte drinks just before and during your match.

    When cramping does occur, first try some dynamic stretching. If this does not appear to help enough, then try some moderate static stretches.

    You probably should not be consuming too much extra salt. A bit extra might be best. Most people get more than enough salt in their diet. Excessive sodium may possibly result in an electrolyte balance. The OJ (earlier) should help to get some extra potassium into your system.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8784961?dopt=Abstract
    http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/muscle-spasms-cramps-charley-horse

    http://www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/page6.htm#how_can_muscle_cramps_be_prevented
    http://www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/page5.htm#what_is_the_treatment_of_skeletal_muscle_cramps
     
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  9. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

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  10. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    Hacker-

    I used to deal with this as well. Along with cramping, I'd "hit the wall", get nauseated, and even get light headed sometimes. This would be particularly bad during the summer for obvious reasons.

    Honestly, taking salt tablets (which I am sure some will frown upon) all but eliminated this. I just take them right before starting playing and maybe 1-2 an hour afterwards. I believe they are 450 mg each of sea salt.

    Another idea is to take a product called Endurolytes by Hammer Nutrition. I learned about these from guys who do triathlons, long distance biking, etc. These will put back what you are sweating out as well, presumably better than just sea salt.
     
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  11. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    Yes, one should consult a doctor if they feel as though something is not right. But, getting cramps during strenuous lengthy physical exertion is not unusual.
     
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  12. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    Another simple trick to try is pickle juice!

    Also, what I found was that drinking loads of Gatorade, etc didn't help as there may be too much liquid vs. electrolytes. So, drinking more and more still doesn't raise the concentration of salts in your system. I have no scientific proof of this, just empirical experience with myself. The day I took salt tablets felt like someone flicked a switch in my body when I was starting to feel like garbage during a summer match.
     
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  13. jgn1013

    jgn1013 Semi-Pro

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    I use to have cramps but only when playing matches, maybe due to nerves. I started taking tums, 1 tablet after every 3-4 games fixed the problem.
     
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  14. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    I have one best solution.

    Don't enter tournaments where you are required to play more than one match in a day.



    Pete Sampras had thalassemia minor, which resulted in anemia, and was felt to be largely responsible for the problems with cramping that sometimes bothered him.

    But of course once he turned pro he stopped playing more than one match a day.

    And quickly ending points with aces, and killer volleys, overheads and forehands, probably also helped keep cramping to a minimum.




    There seems to be two mechanisms that contribute to cramping.

    One is the well known relationship to being dehydrated and sodium deficient.


    The other is related to overwork of the muscles. This can be improved by better conditioning.
     
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  15. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    #15
  16. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Those caps in conjunction with Hammer gels is all I need anymore when I start to hit the wall during a tough one.
     
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  17. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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  18. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    I haven't tried the gels before.....sounds like something to try.

    My usual now is.....Coca Cola!
     
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  19. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

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    People forget (or never knew) that sweat is hypoosmolar to plasma with regard to "salt" (sodium and chloride), i.e. what you sweat out has less salt in it than your blood plasma. This means the amount of salt you need to consume during a match is very low, really negligible. I'd be concerned about consuming very saline liquids like pickle juice as there's a risk of raising your BP with too much salt, potentially dangerous during physical activity that raises your BP in any event.
     
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  20. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    I recall reading online about a major university testing their football players during a 2 hour summer practice. The salt lost due to sweating ranged from 2g to 10g among those tested. In my non expert opinion......if the RDA says we should only consume 2g salt a day in our diets, how can vigorous exercise which causes that amount and then some to be lost result in anything but a deficit?
     
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  21. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    BTW I am asking this in earnest...not to be a wise @ss!

    It just seems like the bank account can only have so much in it and it one overdraws the account, things go awry.

    I have definitely noticed that if I take supplemental salt in the summer when exercising that I have a very very dramatic increase in energy levels. I wish it were psychosomatic, but it definitely isn't......the science behind why I assumed was simple as the bank account analogy, but perhaps the is more to it than that....I dunno.
     
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  22. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    #22
  23. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Unfortunately, this isn't that relevant. In a tennis match outdoors, you can easily sweat out your entire daily requirement of sodium. This is especially true if you sweat heavily. If you do, then you really need that salt to stay properly hydrated. While salt tabs may not be the ideal solution, taking salts (not just sodium) is vital for those who cramp easily.
     
    #23
  24. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    This is the problem. Your body does not excrete salt when it sweats, rather, there is salt in your sweat and your body excretes that. As said in this article, it's simply a consequence of sweating a lot, and rehydrating with just water doesn't typically solve much because although you are rehydrating, you don't have the salts you just flushed out to regulate the fluid balance throughout your body.
     
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  25. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Thanks for this great link.
    I have copied the areas below because many don't download links, and this information is too important to miss.
    (I have also sent a copy of this report as part of an inquiry to the USTA Sports Science group - I am not aware that this is well known in tennis circles.)

    "However, recent research indicates that some athletes need even more care in this area than others. They’re called “salty sweaters,” and when the heat strikes, they are more likely than other athletes to suffer from heat-related illnesses.

    AT GREATER RISK
    As the name implies, the biggest difference between salty sweaters and other athletes is that salty sweaters lose more sodium when they sweat—in some cases, a lot more. Consider this: In a study of 10 football players, sodium losses during a two-hour practice ranged from 0.8g to 8.5g. In another study of top male tennis players during matches on a hot, humid day, average sodium loss was 2.7g per hour, but one player lost 12g of salt in an hour."


    "IDENTIFYING SALTY SWEATERS
    How do you know if an athlete is a salty sweater? The most scientific test is to use absorbent patches to collect sweat and employ specialized analyses to determine exact electrolyte losses. This is the method used by researchers. However, for athletic departments, this isn’t very practical. Fortunately, simpler methods are available.

    At Florida State, we start by using our pre-participation physical exam. Since salty sweaters appear to get muscle cramps more easily, we use our questionnaire to identify athletes with a history of cramping. We also ask our athletes if they have noticed more salt loss themselves. Two simple questions can be sufficient to help identify athletes potentially at risk:

    How often have you experienced muscle cramps during practice or games?
    • Never
    • Sometimes
    • Frequently

    When you sweat, does your sweat often sting your eyes or taste salty?
    • Tastes Salty
    • Stings Eyes
    • Neither"

    "At Florida State, I would estimate that 10 to 15 percent of our athletes could accurately be classified as salty sweaters. Generally speaking, of the 100-plus athletes on our football rosters, between 10 and 15 are identified as salty sweaters at risk for muscle cramps."

    "We use a pre-made product containing a combination of sodium and potassium. The powder is mixed with either water or a carbohydrate/fluid replacement. It is important to note that the electrolytes need to be consumed in combination with high fluid volumes.

    When supplementing, each athlete should be treated individually. Initially, sodium supplementation should be done conservatively, with 1,500 to 3,000 mg. If the salty sweater continues to suffer from muscle cramps, the amount of supplementation can be increased. As mentioned, research has found that in very rare cases, an athlete can lose more than 10g of sodium per hour, and in these cases, up to 6,000mg of sodium supplementation is certainly warranted.

    Another idea is sodium loading prior to competition. This is a relatively new concept, but early studies have produced positive results. Most research has utilized acute sodium loading protocols in an attempt to increase plasma volume, thereby improving heat tolerance and performance. Recent studies conducted in New Zealand have found sodium loading to increase plasma volume in both men and women. It has also been shown to reduce physiological strain, reduce perceived strain, and increase exercise capacity."


    "Competitions can be another time when salty sweaters need extra help. It’s important to make sure they pay particular attention to their pre-competition sodium intake to help prevent them from cramping during competition. At Florida State, we begin supplementing our salty sweaters two to three days prior to a competition, increasing their daily sodium consumption by 1,500 to 3,000mg via dietary means or supplementation. This protocol is most common amongst football players, but it may also be warranted for other athletes who have a history of late-game muscle cramps."
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
    #25
  26. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Ollinger,

    I guess it is not surprising that there are some who are "salty swearters" - I sort of suspected this as a reason some must resort to extremes like drinking pickle juice.

    But this reference from Florida State is the first I have come across that puts the number of "salty sweaters" as high as 10-15%.

    This really changes my thinking on dehydration and hyponatremia.

    How about you?
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
    #26
  27. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting stuff.
     
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  28. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    This.

    Search in this sub-forum for my pickle juice thread. Like you, I'm predisposed to cramping and the pickle juice alleviates cramping immediately. Take a mouthful every couple games for cramp-free tennis.

    I even explain how to make your own as pickle juice can get expensive if you're buying it with the pickles.
     
    #28
  29. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Bud, have you tried oral methods (salt tabs, electrolyte caps like what I posted, etc.) instead? The only reason I wouldn't look to pickle juice for myself is simply because you have to drink the salt instead of just swallow it. That incites thirst which is likely not there to begin with. Of course, I do know many of my boxing friends who down pickle juice, so I'm simply asking from a personal standpoint.
     
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  30. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    I'll look for your thread.

    Here's a premade option!

    http://www.goldenpicklejuice.com/
     
    #30
  31. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Bud,

    I was hoping you would respond to this thread.

    Although the designation sounds terrible, do you think you are a "salty sweater"?


    I must admit, I was skeptical of the need for pickle juice as you have posted, but I also knew you are way too a reliable source not to also treat the suggestion quite seriously.

    (It's interesting that although in that Florida University report they concentrated on football players, they cite another study where among tennis players they had one that had 4 times the salt loss as the "average" tennis player.)
     
    #31
  32. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    That's why I'm curious if he thinks pickle juice works better than even off the shelf solutions. The thought of drinking that makes my tongue curl :)
     
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  33. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    When you are WICKED thirsty and low on salts, it tastes GREAT!
     
    #33
  34. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Water, water everywhere....:D
     
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  35. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    Yes, tried all that and it made no difference. You can make your own pickle brine with just vinegar and water. Studies show it's the vinegar that prevents/alleviates the cramping not the salt. The salt is just to make vinegar/water taste a bit better.

    I go all out now and add pickling spices, fresh garlic, fresh dill etc. to make it taste like real pickle brine. I used to drink it only when I started to feel my feet and lower legs cramp (primarily tibialis anterior muscle). However, I now take a small sip at every change over and the cramping never even starts. I have not had any cramping since I created that PJ thread.

    I played 5 hours and 6 sets of competitive doubles using the PJ the entire time, last night. I probably went through 8 oz. over the course of 6 sets. I even continue sipping it after finishing, since many times my cramps hit later in the evening while I'm relaxing. No issues as usual.

    Will check it out.

    However, it's so cheap, quick and easy to make it yourself. I make (2) 32 oz. mason jars worth at a time an it will last me 3-4 weeks. The cost is probably 2-3 dollars per 32 oz. It's about 4x that to buy jars of pickles as there is very little juice once the pickles are removed.

    Sometimes I'll leave a line of salt residue on my cap but not always. I eat plenty of salt so I doubt I'm sodium deficient. The thing with the pickle juice is the effect is immediate. The cramping is gone within 30-60 seconds. There is no loading up on water, salt, potassium etc. hours or days before a match.

    If someone wants to be really frugal, they can simply use straight vinegar or vinegar watered down with 50% water. The vinegar is the key. There is peer-reviewed research on the subject if you Google vinegar and cramps.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2013
    #35
  36. tdhawks

    tdhawks Semi-Pro

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    #36
  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Don't know if this was mentioned, but try..... don't try so hard!
    Give up the points where you have to run really hard, or stretch fully.
    Make up for that by hitting YOUR shots harder and more to the corners.
    Instead of fetching like a dog, try making the OTHER guy run, stretch, dive, and fetch for you.
     
    #37
  38. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Easier said than done
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    As easily done as said...
    Yesterday got to play a couple of doubles sets with local winning 12's and 14's girls. Both adult sized, but only 3 total years of tennis experience each.
    I easily allowed their winners to go by, without even moving for the ball. No biggee, I could hit the NEXT ball where they didn't like it, so saving some energy can work.
    Interesting strategy.
    About 27 years ago, one of my monthly practice partners NEVER ran for a ball. She was a woman's A/Open, and 3 months after we stopped hitting, she WON the CanadianOpen. I doubt she decided to run just for that tourney.
    Sometimes, you gotta employ the strategy that works best for YOU.
     
    #39
  40. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    ABSOLUTELY NOT!
     
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  41. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Thanks for providing more followup and tips on your own pickle juice formula and how to take it for best results.

    I am resurrecting your pickle juice thread to see how many others who cramp have tried pickle juice, and how many have seen the same great results that you and Power Player report.

    (What I wonder is if there are two separate groups of tennis players who cramp, but may have innovative solutions for their cramping:
    1. those who are "salty sweaters" who will need a lot more sodium than most
    2. those who respond immediately to the pickle juice, apparently from the acetic acid content and not from the sodium.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  42. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    I sweat like crazy..and its salty..totally sucks man. I used to cramp so badly in my calves that I thought I would not be able to play sports at an intense level again.

    Wish I could provide an answer, but all I have done is use electrolyte packs in my water and it helped.

    I also take magnesium before bed. I was taking 1000 mgs. some people say that is too much. I am not sure. I dropped it to 500 to be safe, but I feel like I lose a lot more electrolytes than most people.

    Knock on wood, but the cramping has gone away. I think it boils down to electrolyte management and improved fitness.
     
    #42
  43. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    Great to hear your cramping is under control.

    Thanks for providing information to help others who suffer from cramping.
     
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  44. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    We have to deal with the humidity/heat longer than anyone else in the country except South Florida. I had 1 match many years ago where I was in a 3rd set tiebreaker in the summer. I served for match point and got this terrible cramp in my tricep. Of course, I still tried to win the point left handed but did not. My opponent said I needed to stop even though I wanted to finish the match.
     
    #44
  45. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    The only problem I have now is when I am finished. I have had really bad hamstring cramps and things like that a few hours after I play now and then if it was a long session. Kind of awkward if you are out on a date or something..lol.

    When Nadal cramped at that press conference, I felt his pain. I have been right there.
     
    #45
  46. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

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    ^^^ Good point about the problem of cramping being totally different for those who are training/playing hard in hot, muggy conditions.

    I would hate to think weekend warrior doubles players are going to start increasing their sodium content - and then have their hypertension worsen.
     
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  47. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

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    I too experience occasional extreme cramping hours after I finish playing some really intense sets. I'm lying on the couch reading or watching TV and my lower leg muscles (primarily tibialis anterior and toe muscles) will begin to twitch. They then grab and I can barely walk since It's very difficult to straighten my lower leg. Pickle juice (or vinegar) will take the cramping away immediately and will KEEP it away. Try it.

    The only way many will believe this is to try it and experience how it works. You can literally feel the cramping muscle(s) relaxing 30-120 seconds after imbibing the pickle brine (or straight vinegar if you prefer something without sodium).

    Don't just keep reading about it... TRY IT :) Most folks keep pickles or vinegar in the house. If you need to, water the vinegar down by 50%. Studies show a correlation between the strength of the vinegar and the amount of time it takes to alleviate the cramp. Non-diluted = faster relief.

    I do that now as well. It's a terrible feeling when your lower legs are cramping so badly u have to crawl to the fridge for the pickle juice. I also discovered that PJ can be kept at room temperature for days without going bad. So, you can leave it in your tennis bag (or on the coffee table) and do not have to refrigerate it when not using it.

    If you have a bottle of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar that will also work.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
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  48. Power Player

    Power Player Talk Tennis Guru

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    No I agree. Im going to buy a jar just have for these situations.

    Honestly, I would not eeven wait for the twitch. I'd take it down as soon as I got home as a preventitive.
     
    #48
  49. tbln

    tbln New User

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    hacker_101, unfortunately scientists and doctors actually haven't quite learned what actually causes cramps. Prevailing theories have included dehydration and electrolyte imbalances but preventing both have neither been shown to conclusively prevent cramping. Even the pros can suffer from cramps. The current prevailing theory is a mixed model of dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and importantly, fitness. Overloading a fatigued muscle is a consistent trigger for cramping. I think the best thing you can do is to get fitter. If you can train a muscle to become stronger and have more endurance, it will not fatigue as quickly.

    If the cramps are only happening when you're playing in tournaments its likely that your pushing your body much harder under competition conditions than when you're training/practicing. You might benefit from cross training and gradually training harder and with more intensity (no more than 10% increase from the week before) until you can last three three-setters in a day.
     
    #49
  50. beltsman

    beltsman Professional

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    Well obviously you only take sodium supplements when you are really exerting yourself and sweating a ton. You don't just pop 1,000 mg for a light hit or doubles match.

    But as has been posted in this thread, you can easily lose TONS of sodium through sweat during a match, well over the daily recommended value.

    Additionally, just monitor what you eat for dinner and get something very low on sodium to compensate.

    I am going to try pickle juice, and then I am going to try straight vinegar, to see if it is the salt or the vinegar (or both) that works for me. Obviously if the vinegar works with no salt, that's for the best.

    Although I think I need the salt too - I have SO MUCH salt residue after sweating. My hat is covered in it, my arms have a white salty residue on them, etc and it burns the eyes and tastes like saltwater. But my arms just end up completely covered in salt afterwards.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2015
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