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Cramps and the causes!

CRAMPS AND THE CAUSES!It’s the middle of the night and you are suddenly awoken with a searing tightness in the back of your leg, like a vice grips has suddenly been applied by a giant bear. Yes, that’s cramp and it gets you at the least expected time. The cause… its most likely dehydration.

The science behind it
There are many theories that can cause cramps, such as overuse of a muscle, muscle strain, side effects of a tablet being taken or simply holding a position for a prolonged period of time.
Here we are going to concentrate on dehydration being the most likely culprit.

Glycogen is stored in the muscle and liver together with water.
One gram of glycogen is stored with three grams of water.
This means when glycogen is used, water weight is lost in the process.
Outside the narrow range of 98-100°F, your body will always sacrifice muscle function for temperature regulation. With this in mind your body will take much needed water from your calves for example and distribute it to the skin to cool you down as this is the priority for your body. Now you have less water in the calves. Add alcohol to that mix and you have the perfect storm for a painful interruption that night in the shape of a cramp.

Dehydration equals things such as reduced endurance, Fatigue, Muscle pain and most relevant to this article, Cramps

For example...
If you drink 12oz. of plain water, 8 oz. of it will empty from your stomach within 15 minutes to distribute throughout the body for much needed functions.
Here’s some pointers if you are planning a sporting activity

• Stay well-hydrated throughout the day, every day: urine should be clear and pale, and you should need to urinate at least 4-5 times per day.
• Two hours before activity: You need to drink at least 2 cups of water or sports drink
• During warm-up: ¼ to ½ cup fluids as tolerated.
• During activity: ½ - 1 cup water or sports drink every 15 minutes (where possible).
• After activity: 2½ cups water/sports drink for every pound lost in sweat

Contrary to popular belief, Alcohol is not counted as fluid intake :0)

The human digestive system cannot tolerate or break down alcohol so it has to flush it out of your system very rapidly.

Your liver has to work overtime to do this and so does your kidneys/bladder to expel it! (opening the flood gates…)

If you eat while you drink alcohol, your digestive system has to cope with the alcohol as a priority, therefore it pushes the food straight to fat cells to be able to do this.
(Specifically Hips on women and abdomen on men)

Alcohol and Exercise  
Alcohol affects the body's ability to turn food into energy, it slows down reaction times, increases body heat loss and reduces endurance.

If you have alcohol 24 hours before exercising you are more likely to develop muscle cramps.

Remember - if you were drinking the night before, when the time comes to really dig deep, there mightn't be anything there.
It is also important to remember that drinking alcohol before or during exercise can lead to injuries. Alcohol in the body can slow down the healing process leading to an increased recovery time from an injury.

So, to sum up, If you don’t drink enough water, or drink alcohol on a regular basis and don’t prepare for activity, the chances are you will suffer from cramps most likely in and around the calves at night or sometimes during the day. To avoid this, you need to drink water sparingly during a normal day and up the intake if you have drunk alcohol or do any activity that requires more movement than normal. Before you go to bed, Stretch the back of your legs to relieve any tightness which might help prevent the cramp.

David and James
Neuro-Back pain Clinic (Formerly Largo Damaso Clinic) - Mexilheoira Grande
T: +351 928 022 494

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0 #1 Fred Steel 2021-07-05 10:26
I can understand that alcohol will dehydrate you, but beer is 95% water, which surely you're body must absorb.

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