If you’ve had the misfortune of getting a cramp mid-exercise, you know it can be agonising, completely debilitating, and often brings your exercise to an unwelcome end! A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that doesn’t relax – they’re uncontrollable, often very painful and commonly occur in athletes due to their intense training and exercise regimens. If you suffer from cramps, Endura can help!
Why Do I Get Cramps?
Most cramps are preventable, especially cramps during exercise. Are you doing all you can to stop them from affecting your performance? If you understand why cramps happen in the first place, you’re far better equipped to help prevent them. Major factors that can contribute to muscle cramping include:1
- Dehydration – particularly if you’re exercising in hot, humid conditions. This is why some athletes get cramps more frequently in the warmer months of the year.
- Electrolyte deficiencies due to excessive sweating and/or insufficient dietary intake – especially potassium and magnesium.
- Excessive vomiting or diarrhoea, which causes dehydration and/or electrolyte loss.
- Inadequate oxygenation of muscles due to insufficient circulation.
- Physical over-exertion - cramping can be common during or soon after exercise, but is more likely to occur when you have cold, tight, injured or fatigued muscles.
One of the common risk factors of muscle spasms and cramps is electrolyte deficiency, particularly magnesium deficiency.2
Signs You’re Missing Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential nutrient in your body, required for more than 300 biochemical reactions! Most importantly for athletes, magnesium assists with maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, as well as helping to create cellular energy. Early signs of magnesium deficiency can include:3, 4
- Muscle cramps and spasms.
- Muscle weakness.
- Feelings of stress, nervousness or anxiety.
- Fatigue and low energy.
Are You Getting Enough Magnesium?
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of magnesium in Australia is currently 420 mg/day for men and 320 mg/day for women,5 and although Magnesium is plentiful in nature (dietary sources include dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, legumes, cocoa, fruits, meat and fish6), whether Australians are achieving the RDI of magnesium is questionable. Modern Australian dietary choices may not provide enough magnesium7, especially in the case of diets high in processed foods, as processing and cooking can further deplete the magnesium content of foods.
Lifestyle factors can also increase your daily magnesium needs e.g. exercise increases your magnesium requirements,8 whilst stress, alcohol and an increased consumption of tea and coffee may deplete magnesium levels. If you’re experiencing cramps, perhaps you’re not getting enough magnesium.
What’s the Best Form of Magnesium?
Some forms of magnesium found in sports drinks (such as magnesium salts), can be poorly absorbed and tend to break up (dissociate) in your digestive system, potentially causing digestive problems (and sometimes diarrhoea – not something you want mid exercise). Endura Sports Nutrition is different as it uses an exclusive, patented form of magnesium – Meta Mag® - that’s highly absorbable and doesn’t dissociate in the gut, so it’s less likely to cause gastric upsets.
Being highly absorbable, Meta Mag® is better utilised by your cells to create energy, keep you healthy and prevent/relieve cramps, making it one of the best choices for magnesium supplementation.9
Endura Formulas Provide Therapeutic Levels of Magnesium
Endura has a number of key formulas that contain therapeutic levels of Meta Mag® magnesium diglycinate, including:
- Endura Rehydration Performance Fuel features a specialised electrolyte profile designed for maximum performance rehydration and includes:
- A therapeutic dose of Meta Mag® magnesium to help prevent and relieve muscular cramps and spasms, as well as relieve aches and pains.
- Sodium and potassium at levels recommended by recent research to maximise hydration and performance in endurance athletes.
- 20 g of carbs per dose to assist energy production and help you perform at your peak.10
- Endura Rehydration Low Carb Fuel provides the same advanced electrolyte profile and therapeutic dose of Meta Mag® magnesium as Performance Fuel, but with less than 1.3 g of carbs per dose; helping prevent and relieve muscle cramps and spasms, with a minimum of carbs. This makes it a great choice for calorie conscious exercisers, daily hydration, rehydration during hot conditions (where your hydration needs may be greater than your carb requirements) and athletes wanting to separate their hydration/carb sources.
- Endura Rehydration Energy Fuel is our original race proven Rehydration Formula, providing high quality carbs, electrolytes and Meta Mag® magnesium, all of which are in high demand during endurance sports. Energy Fuel has a different electrolyte profile to Performance Fuel and Low Carb Fuel with a higher amount of potassium and less sodium.
What Other Ways Can Cramps be Managed?
As well as the Endura range of rehydration and magnesium supplements, additional ways you can manage cramps and spasms include:11
- Lengthening the cramping muscle using a gentle, sustained stretch then lightly massaging the area until the cramp subsides. If you are unsure how to stretch leg muscles, see your physiotherapist for advice;
- In cases of severe cramping, applying a heat-pack for a few minutes can help the muscle to relax;
- Incorporating regular stretching into your fitness routine;
- Warming up and cooling down thoroughly whenever you exercise or play sport;
- A regular massage may help to reduce muscle tension;
- Wearing properly fitted shoes during training and competition;
- Checking your running technique – if you think your running technique may be causing problems see your physiotherapist for information and advice;
- Most cases of simple cramps require no treatment other than patience and stretching. Gently and gradually stretching and massaging the affected muscle may ease the pain and hasten recovery;
- Drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercise – especially in the hot, humid months; and
- Making sure your diet is nutritionally adequate and includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
If you suffer from frequent cramps and spasms, don’t let it stop you from achieving your best this summer – let Endura help!
* References available on request
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional.