hydration, cramping, recovery and all that

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by MoapaPk » Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:56 pm

Dingus Milktoast wrote:
MoapaPk wrote:
In one study, the hydration and electrolyte levels of runners were monitored. Those who got cramps (during athletic activities) did not have hydration or electrolyte levels significantly different from those who did not. Bear in mind that all started the activity with proper levels.



As always with population studies, we may have two very different groups of people getting pooled together. There is the possibility that those who get cramps may just be biologically different in the way they process water and electrolytes. As a crude example: only 40% of hypertensive people are salt-sensitive. The other folks with high blood pressure are pretty much unaffected by the Na in foods (within reasonable limits).

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by Day Hiker » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:46 pm

Other than the 5/28 of days I deal with women, my only bad experience with cramping was in November 2006 when I did Cheops Pyramid with cp0915 in Grand Canyon.

The main difference between this and the many other Grand Canyon hikes I have done is that I forgot (!!!) to bring Gatorade powder on the hike, and I wound up drinking water all day. Sure, salty foods are a fine source of electrolytes, but I didn't make a special point to bring salty foods because I always get plenty of electrolytes from the Gatorade that I would normally bring on such a hike. So I just had water and a bunch of sweet crap to eat all day.

As opposed to a summer hike above 12000 feet, where it is maybe 55F on a warm day, a summer hike through Grand Canyon means you will sweat a lot, since it is 100 to 110F at the bottom during the day. On a 25-mile (12-hour) trans-canyon hike in summer, I consistently drink about 2.5 gallons, of which maybe 2 gallons are Gatorade and 1/2 gallon is plain water. (The amount consumed would be a lot more than that, if not for part of the trail being at higher elevation.)

So on this Cheops hike, I forgot to bring Gatorade, and I hiked with just water anyway, unconcerned, possibly because it was November and not summer. On the way up, about half-way to the rim, I began to have serious cramping in my thighs on every step. I don't recall it to be a life-threatening situation, but I do remember that it was pretty intense, and it seriously affected my uphill performance. I also remember wishing I could just get some salty food or Gatorade from somebody somewhere.

In the summer, it would have been much more serious. I would have lost a lot more electrolytes and drank a lot more water. I'm sure more than one person has died of hyponatremia on long desert hikes, particularly on hot canyon hikes, where you have to hike uphill to finish (get out).

For the cramping, I am convinced that my situation was due to the lack of electrolytes. While it doesn't qualify as a scientific experiment, it is the only time in my life that I ever had cramping problems in my legs in all the hikes I have been on, including the 46 Grand Canyon long dayhikes I have done.

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by MoapaPk » Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:41 pm

Hyponatremia is indeed a serious condition, and it's hard to go to the GC without reading the real-life examples / horror stories. But as DH said, it's from a combination of a high rate of water replacement, without electrolyte replacement.

In the studies I reported above, the blood Na levels didn't drop to the trigger levels for hyponatremia.

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Nuun has worked for me!

by islesrule7 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:03 pm

I occasionally have cramping issues on long runs, but have never had a problem up in the mountains. Probably because I am MUCH more focused on hydration at elevation...

In addition to forcing a liter first thing in the morning, I use Nuun regularly. For those of you who don't know, its an electrolite tablet that you drop into your water bottle. Essentially gatorade without the sugar/calories. It tastes great (particularly helpful if you are adding to treated water) and ensures that you are replacing the electrolites that you sweat out. Probably drop it in my nalgene ~75% of the time.

Btw, I am unaffiliated with the company, just a happy consumer. Only warning is to make sure you store it in someplace where it cannot get wet... otherwise its a big mess

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by RayMondo » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:46 pm

As above, the link with stress is familiar to me. During a tough period of my life I suffered adverse reactions. Whilst I didn't get cramps, I got tension in the extremities (tetany), which led to cold hands and feet, and such tight soles that each step felt like my soles were having hair dewax treatment. So painful that it felt like my skin was being ripped off at every footstep. My electrolytes underwent related (Calcium) imbalance. Hence, how true is the saying - "getting cold feet" and "that guy makes my toes curl up". Rebalancing my brain (realigning my thoughts) is leading to recovery. Man, I wished I could have got such fast results as The Dog Whisperer. Dogs live in the now and don't have hang-ups.

The minor twitches I mentioned above, I just looked up, are related to Calcium imbalance. Again stress related. Ever see someone's lip turn up with fear. Guess we all need to chill out and live in the moment. :D. And sex is one of the best destressors. Yeah, I'm working on it :D

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by Diego Sahagún » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:54 pm

MikeTX wrote:
RayMondo wrote:Try plenty of bananas.

i know. unfortunately, i hate bananas.

btw, i find this article really interesting. i had no idea there was so much mystery to this.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/healt ... 4BEST.html

Thanks for the article Mike, it's really interesting. By the way, I use to eat many bananas and cramp, so I don't think that if you eat more bananas you'll cramp less. Probably Magnesium is a more decisive factor than Potasium but I'm not sure

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by RayMondo » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:31 am

Here is a link to that tetany I mentioned. Though don't get bogged down or paranoid about the causes, like any Web-based diagnosis. In most cases, it's a stress response. If we react stressfully, then all sorts of effects follow. Balancing ones thoughts is the key to better health. I sure gained some insights from The Dog Whisperer shows - as more often, responding stressfully to situations, only raises the ante. Cool is a better form of defence because someone will be more wary of you if you show no fear.

<a href=http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=13312>Tetany - Calcium</a>

<a href=http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/241893-overview>Hypocalcemia</a>
Read the paragraph: Pathophysiology

Remembering that, Hypo- anything, is "less". Hyper is more.
Last edited by RayMondo on Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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by MoapaPk » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:41 am

Are you getting the right amount of francium and radium?

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by Wisdom » Thu Mar 25, 2010 3:01 am

My calfs cramped terribly during my first trip into the Grand Canyon around '89. But that was my first backpacking trip in over 14 years, so I suffered through it (as if i had a choice). The cramps always took place at night and got worse if I tried to stretch them out... The next trip, 4 months later, I carried a 1/2 liter bottle filled with a crystal light solution to help flavor the water and promote drinking. My other water bottles or dromedary bag only carried clear water. At least once per day I drank one electrolyte mix. The cramping never appeared. I was a happy camper!

The electrolyte product called HEED was what I used. Worked very well. Nowadays it seems that the ShotBlok gummybears or gumdrops are popular.

- Wisdom

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by drjohnso1182 » Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:38 am

MoapaPk wrote:Are you getting the right amount of francium and radium?

I take my francium with a glass of water, but it always seem to burn going down.

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by fossana » Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:56 am

I keep a stash of Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes electrolyte caps in my pack for long runs/rides. They're fairly mild (versus the Succeed ones).

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by norco17 » Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:05 am

Back when I was swimming competively Every swim season would start out the same way. After a couple weeks of minimal exercise I would get back in the water and would be fine the first couple days. Then I would get cramps toward the end of practice in my calf or the arch of my foot(that one hurts) I would get out rub it for a minute and get back in the water. After about a week of training and eating about three bananas a day I would not cramp the rest of the season.

I generaly stay very well hydrated, but in high school I had to get out of the water to go to the drinking fountain. In college we had water bottles on the side of the pool and I never cramped in college.

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by spiritualspatula » Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:57 am

Has anybody compared Nuun with Elete? What are some other options out there for water additives that you would recommend?

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by Sierra Ledge Rat » Fri Mar 26, 2010 3:15 am

MoapaPk wrote:Are you getting the right amount of francium and radium?

:D :D :D

Some cramping is simply due to muscle fatigue. This will become less of a problem with training.

Electrolyte depletion and dehydration will cause cramping as well.

Water by itself in the setting of heavy sweating is not enough, salt replacement is necessary.

Gatorade is my favorite, works well for me. Actually a near-ideal solution is Gatorade diluted 50:50 with water. Not much flavor, but it gives you a better ratio of H20, sugar and salt.

Eat more salty foods. (Table salt = sodium chloride.) You can also buy "No Salt," which is a salt composed of potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. I mix regular table salt with "No Salt" for food seasoning for extra electrolyte replacement.

The poor man's Gatorade is plain water and Saltine crackers (= H20 + starch + salt). Salty snacks such as party crackers are also a great way both carbohydrates and salt. The crackers come in a variety of flavors and textures.

There's no need for all kinds of fancy and expensive solutions.


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