Jump to content
  • Announcements

    • olyclimber

      WELCOME TO THE CASCADECLIMBERS.COM FORUMS   02/03/18

      We have upgraded to new forum software as of late last year, and it makes everything here so much better!  It is now much easier to do pretty much anything, including write Trip Reports, sell gear, schedule climbing related events, and more. There is a new reputation system that allows for positive contributors to be recognized,  it is possible to tag content with identifiers, drag and drop in images, and it is much easier to embed multimedia content from Youtube, Vimeo, and more.  In all, the site is much more user friendly, bug free, and feature rich!   Whether you're a new user or a grizzled cascadeclimbers.com veteran, we think you'll love the new forums. Enjoy!
Sign in to follow this  
pu

Cramping muscles while climbing

Recommended Posts

I have a recurring problem with bicep cramps during endurance climbing efforts. I drink more water than most of my partners and my caffeine intake is not outrageous. Lately I have been using some little gatorade packets in my water but I still seem to cramp. It usually happens only on the longer days. Those of 10 hours or more in duration. Any suggestions?

 

Thanks,

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, I am not a super salty sweater nor do I ever have any associated GI issues with the cramping.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Salt replacement tabs such as Succeed have been a huge benefit for me on my super long (25+mile) trail runs. They help prevent cramping (in my case it was legs, hips, knees, and back), aid in keeping my stomach settled so I could eat more, etc. I can't swear by how they will help in endurance climbing efforts, but there are minimal side effects that would dissuade one from trying them out. Too many tabs can cause bloating/weight retention, but that is about it. On hot days, I will take one every hour. Moderate temps, maybe one every two hours. Gatorade and other electrolyte replacement drinks just weren't enough. Plus the effect of taking one when you are already crampy is pretty quick and drastic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I saw some Hammer Endurolytes on the rack at my local bike shop and that sparked my interest. The cramps are really annoying and always seemed to be an issue when it was most critical. I appreciate the help.

 

Joe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gatorade has fructose in it which is the last thing you want to be putting in your body during long workouts.

 

I would look at your diet first and see if you have any holes there... generally a well rounded diet has enough electrolytes in it to buffer for cramping.

 

The other primary suspect is your training program: are you doing regular endurance work to prepare the body for the effort?

 

If you are doing all of the above then it could be an electrolyte issue. I would second the hammer nutrition recommendation. They make great stuff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always been pretty fascinated by why I get cramps in my forearms some days and not others.

 

I think fluid/electrolyte imbalance plays a role, but more importantly any muscle imbalances that you may have (which climbers are well known for) are the main culprit.

 

Since I began once a week gymnastic ring workouts to balance out the climbing muscles in my body, i've overall been able to keep cramps from occuring or only rarely on my most dehydrated and taxing outings.

 

But, F/E always seem to be the factor that triggers the cramps. I think it's important to realize that there are more than one type of way to become dehydrated: isotonic (loss of F and E in the same quanity), hyptotonic (loss of E in greater proportion than fluid/excess consumption of water), or hypertonic (too many electrolytes, not enough water). I swear i've had cramping episodes from all 3 conditions before.

 

With F/E, I think the key is to consume lots of water per climbing day 3-8 Liters (usually 4-5), but also every 3rd liter or so do some electrolytes. Also, as John says, diet plays a role as well. I try to eat a good breakfast with real food in it pre-climb (whole wheat burrito with veggies, eggs, and maybe a lean meat), bars, gu's, shot-blocks, electros thru-out the day, but also for the end of the approach and early part of the climb eat a sandwich with whole grain bread, lean meat, and veggies ( a bit of lettuce, onion, red/green pepper, no cheese). You need the micronutrients, that only real food offers, to facilitate the small cellular exchanges that are keeping you going on a long day in the hills.

 

Hope that helps, good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'm a fan of Saltstick caps. I keep a few wrapped in tinfoil in my chalkbag zipper pocket.

 

I;ve been totally geeking out on this crap. I've gotten wicked bad cramps on two times on long climbs but it was enough to carry some insurance.

 

My system:

In my 3L water bladder I put two Nuun tablets in. Tastes great, no cottonmouch or extreme urge for "normal water" like you do with sugar based sports drinks. For all day climbs in hot weather, I bring 3L of water. 2L for almost anything else.

 

Next in a 16oz nalgene or 1L collapsible platypus (either clipped to my harness or in my pack easily accessible) I put one scoop of regular No-Explode and one scoop of no-cafeine No-Explode and two scoops of Accelerade Hydra (although I've been switch to 1st Endurance when I'm out). This powerful brew has about 300cal, some protein, plenty of electrolytes, nitrous buffers, creatine, etc. etc.

I drink sips of this throughout the climb, while staying hydrated with my Nuun (by the way bring back the Cola flavor damnit!)

 

I carry the salt-stick pills with a Gu Chomp or Shot Block energy chaser as a crash-kit.

 

I actually take this two steps further :)

 

At night (I've found that my stomach can't handle much in the morning) I take a Ca/Mg/Zn/D multi to cover the other electrolytres (enough so I get 1gram of Ca). I wash this down with a vile brew of green super food. In a tiny nalgene spice bottle I put one scoop of powered greens (i forget the name but it's $$ and from whole foods) and one shot of Alive liquid greens.

 

For food on the climb I take either a big sandwich and a couple packs of gummies, or a combo of: olive oil and sea salt almonds, couple slices of cheese, meat stick, dried mangos or apricots, raw nutrition or probar, and 2-3 packs of energy gummies...sometimes a bag of shot rocks at the top if the descent is long.

 

other things would be to chug water at camp, and in the morning before the climb. Have miso soup for your hot drink for extra salt. and have a solid dinner and breakfast with lots of fat and protein.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

+1 for Nuun.

 

While not cramps, I used to get benign PVC's and heart palpitations when I would get dehydrated. While not serious, they were insainly distracting. Nuun helped immensely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With some experimentation, I've found that a liter or two of Nuun (in addition to plain water) throughout the day and a bananna (potassium) during breakfast fixed the annoying cramps I get in my forearms when wall climbing. Look for the fruit-leather type at Trader Joes... i don't like the taste but it does the trick for me.

 

btw,

on my last trip from sea level to 14,400' w/minimal time to acclimate, my climbing partner told me to cut back on the potassium intake because it inhibits acclimatization. I have no idea if this is true, but it's worth looking into if you're worrying about AMS.

 

 

 

 

Edited by downey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i think some people go overboard with electrolytes and suppliments in general, but i think these 'researchers' aren't spending their days on El Cap sweating their asses off for 10 hours or more! :D

 

If you're not taking in something salty when you're sweating a lot, (salted almonds are one of my favorites), you're going to get severe hyponatremia

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001431/

 

drinking loads of water without enough salts will also dilute your system enough to make you very sick... I vomited the entire way down castelton tower to the TH because of hyponatremia (ahhh that sucked haha!). Less water and more salt would have prevented it.

 

in the end it's whatever works for you. experiment.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the author should read up on newer literature. Most of the research used is either from the 90's or early 2000. There is a lot of recent research done in the past 2 years, which proves hydration, diet and stress as leading causes of muscle cramping. Muscle weakness plays also huge role as well. No silver bullet for an answer, but there is an scientific evidence contradicting the article.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mix for one push stuff used to be half-strength cytomax, with a couple of vivarin and aleve tossed in...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the author should read up on newer literature. Most of the research used is either from the 90's or early 2000. There is a lot of recent research done in the past 2 years, which proves hydration, diet and stress as leading causes of muscle cramping. Muscle weakness plays also huge role as well. No silver bullet for an answer, but there is an scientific evidence contradicting the article.

 

I'd really like to see some of these studies. From what I can find online the hydration, electrolyte hypothesis hasn't been supported at all. In experiments, hypodrated and dehydrated muscles cramped just as readily when electrically induced. What has been demonstrated is that pickle juice, most likely the vinegar, actually works, pretty fascinating.

I get hit by cramps harder than most, and the only real solution I've found is climbing a lot and maintaining a high level of fitness. I've experimented with dosing and mega-dosing with all the electrolytes and they do seem to help a bit, but for climbs to come, I think I'm gonna pack some vinegar..

 

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/phys-ed-can-pickle-juice-stop-muscle-cramps/

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the author should read up on newer literature. Most of the research used is either from the 90's or early 2000. There is a lot of recent research done in the past 2 years, which proves hydration, diet and stress as leading causes of muscle cramping. Muscle weakness plays also huge role as well. No silver bullet for an answer, but there is an scientific evidence contradicting the article.

 

I'd really like to see some of these studies. From what I can find online the hydration, electrolyte hypothesis hasn't been supported at all. In experiments, hypodrated and dehydrated muscles cramped just as readily when electrically induced. What has been demonstrated is that pickle juice, most likely the vinegar, actually works, pretty fascinating.

I get hit by cramps harder than most, and the only real solution I've found is climbing a lot and maintaining a high level of fitness. I've experimented with dosing and mega-dosing with all the electrolytes and they do seem to help a bit, but for climbs to come, I think I'm gonna pack some vinegar..

 

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/phys-ed-can-pickle-juice-stop-muscle-cramps/

Like I said, there are numerous causes, so looking for a silver bullet solution is a dead end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great topic. I've dealt with debilitating leg cramps on big days and it can stop me nearly in my tracks. I'd prefer to prepare and treat nutritionally, but I believe I have some circulation issues that cause some of the problems I have in one of my legs. So I either don't push it (the lame option) or keep experimenting with diet, training, stretching, supplements, etc.

I've tried many different things and the most recent and what I think useful tactic are the Hammer Enduralytes. I've also started "loading" a bit on potassium (bananas) days before an outing. Coconut water is supposed to really help re-hydrate the body too. The next wall I do I will have a liter or two of coconut water.

I have carried salt and those salt stick tablets, but I can't say I've had a lot of success with those methods. There's something else missing that I can't get from just salt.

Gatorade is a joke. Gu brand and Nuun sports mix are my preferred brands now. I won my first can of Gu mix at a ski movie once. After using that stuff, I realized how much Gatorade actually sucked. Note to company reps: Those movie giveaways work. I've turned several people onto Gu powder since winning that first jug.

 

There is a lot of differing opinions on what actually causes cramps and how you can prevent and treat them. Here's an interesting article that looked at pickle juice as an antidote to cramps.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/09/phys-ed-can-pickle-juice-stop-muscle-cramps/

(I see this was already posted. Has a lot of other info on cramps though)

 

I have thought about carrying a bottle of pickle juice and even have a jar in the fridge at home in hopes of testing it some day. But since I've found the Enduralytes, I just pop one and hydrate properly and the cramps at home seem to not be nearly as much of an issue.

 

My dad swears by yellow mustard and he keeps a bottle beside his bed for night time cramps (which are the worst). This hasn't worked for me. I keep salt and water by my bedside too and have in the past hit that when a night time cramp strikes and it has worked. I actually think it's just the water and getting up and stretching the muscle a bit that works it out. But maybe the salt does do something?? Nothing like rolling over in bed and having your calve or hamstring go into full seizure mode.

 

 

Edited by yeoman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Endurolytes or equivalent. I've used them many times to cure muscle cramps in both myself and others. Works quite fast, too, even with severe cramping in large muscles like your glutes. A cyclist friend had a bad cramp in her ass - after 2 Endurotytes, it was gone within 10 minutes.

 

Adventure racers use them religiously. The difference between having them and not is stark. I spent an evening writhing in leg cramps after a full day long trail run because I'd forgotten them. Popped one per hour during summer temps and never had a cramp, even during 12 hour runs.

 

Science may or may not know all there is to know about cramps, but endurance athletes know how to prevent and cure them.

 

 

Edited by tvashtarkatena

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

+1 for nuun.

 

that stuff is essential for all of my outdoors and fitness activities, plus they have some 12+ flavors now, most of which are pretty tasty. best part is - no sugar! might seem like a detriment when you're on a 10hour climb but get your calories somewhere else - like a gel or a banana, or a clif bar. the no-sugar thing keeps nuun from gunking up your hydration bladder or water bottle and wont leave a residue if you use your bottle for multiple purposes... i.e. coffee in the am, nuun in the day, soup or coacoa later on (for overnighters).

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Science may or may not know all there is to know about cramps, but endurance athletes know how to prevent and cure them.

 

 

Indeed :)

 

Yay, another product to spend $$ on! I'm surprised nobody on this thread has mentioned skratch labs yet, but maybe that's just a cycling fad

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

osmo makes good shit

 

 

i find most cramping to be related to in this order 1) hangover

2) not being fit enough for a specific motion 3.) tired,hungery,thirsty 4.)electrolytes - odds are you've got plenty o' salt and not enough water or energy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The single biggest cause of cramps IME is lack of proper fitness. Having said that electrolytes, hydration, and stretching all play a big role. As for supplements, pills, ect, yes they exist and probably work. I've never taken them though.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like to use coconut water as an electrolyte / potassium source. And I throw some sea salt in my water to replace the sodium. Has really helped to prevent cramps for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not if you can wear the coconut shells afterwards. Who doesn't love a luau?

 

Folks keep talking about salt, but there are 5 major electrolytes and 3 less important ones you need to keep taking in to keep going. Good electrolytes replacements (Nuun, endurolytes, etc) do the job effectively without having to climb any palm trees in your bare feet.

Edited by tvashtarkatena

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×