DANGER: CRAMPING AHEAD
KNOW THE 5 WARNING SIGNS, THEN ACT FAST TO CORRECT YOUR COURSE
Hammer Peak Performance Tip: Learn these five warning signs of imminent cramping, then act fast to get back on track. Proper hydration and consistent electrolyte replenishment with Endurolytes capsules, Endurolytes FIZZ, or Endurolytes Extreme are key. Read on for details.
During a race or workout, few things will stop you in your tracks faster than a full-fledged muscle cramp. The problem is even more challenging because the warning signs can be easily missed, and the time you have to prevent a full-blown attack is extremely limited.
While there are many theories about the cause of muscle cramping, it's usually related to inadequate hydration and improper electrolyte replenishment - conditions that can be recognized and corrected IF you know the danger signs:
#1 - Your urine is dark yellow
Urine will turn darker yellow as you become more dehydrated. (This is darker than the natural bright yellow color associated with taking vitamin B2, or riboflavin, supplements.) Cramping is just one of the unpleasant side effects of dehydration.
#2 - You urinate more frequently than normal
Drinking excess amounts of water in the days leading up to an event - in the hopes of getting a head start on fluid needs - or drinking too much during an event, overly dilutes your blood level of electrolytes and flushes those precious minerals out of your body. This scenario, formally known as dilutional hyponatremia, not only causes cramping, but it can also have serious health consequences.
#3 - You're not moving smoothly
With allowances for normal fatigue, if your running gait is irregular or your cycling pedal cadence isn't smooth, then your muscles aren't "firing" properly. This signals that you're low on electrolytes. Unless you replenish them quickly, the end result will almost certainly be cramping.
#4 - Your mental status changes
Electrolytes play a role in thyroid and adrenal gland function. So if you're experiencing mood swings - such as confusion, depression, lethargy, despair, and more - your electrolytes are depleted.
#5 - You feel nauseous and light-headed
If you know that you're hydrating sufficiently and replenishing calories properly, but your stomach is still queasy and you feel dizzy, it's a good bet that you're not taking in sufficient amounts of electrolytes. As a result, not only will you experience those unpleasant maladies, but you may also have a wicked headache and soon will have a nasty bout of cramping.
Stop cramping before it starts
If you hydrate properly and replenish electrolytes consistently from the very start of exercise, you probably will never experience any of the above warning signs of cramping. If you do experience one or more of the above signs, however, make the following changes right away to prevent cramping and get back on track:
During workouts or races, aim to consume 600-750 ml/hour, plus or minus 100 ml, based on your body weight, the weather conditions, and how well or poorly you're acclimated to those conditions. Don't go overboard, though. If you drink too much water, you can overly dilute your blood level of electrolytes (aka dilutional hyponatremia), resulting in similar problems. For good overall hydration, your total daily fluid intake should be about 32-39 ml per kg of your body weight (in addition to what you consume during exercise). Build up your intake gradually until you reach your target amount.
Replenish electrolytes with Endurolytes!
Replenishment of electrolytes prior to, during, and after your training sessions and races is as important as anything you drink to maintain hydration or eat to maintain energy production. Make sure you don't neglect this all-important component of athletic fueling!