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Leg Cramps

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  • Leg Cramps

    I need help. I've been primal for over a year and half. In the first year I did very little if any distance running at all, mostly high intensity short interval stuff and weights (The Big 5 from Body by Science). I'm 58 years old and a former competitive distance runner. At the beginning of the year I started my running again but keeping it low key, not doing more then 25 - 30 miles a week with one or two days off.

    I just returned from a 3 week trip to Germany where I didn't run everyday but did run probably 10 - 12 of the days I was there including two tempo type runs. On at least two nights I had leg cramps on very severe that had me grabbing my leg and out of bed trying to work it out. I've never had that before. I reasoned that my diet was probably to blame as I deviated from it somewhat while I was there but not excessivly. I did drink more alcohol then normal and pastries (but not in excess and not everyday).

    Anyway I did not do any exercise of any kind the last 5 days I was there. Upon return while I was still trying to adjust to the time here in the states and going through some jet lag I ran my first morning back, 5 miles, very easy. I was very compfortable, no problems, never got my heart rate above 140. The next day I did my big 5 workout, which I had not done in some time. The next day I did a short interval workout of 8 sprints of about 100 yards each. I was going to do 10 but felt a tightness in my hamstring and backed off. The 8 that I did felt surprisingly easy and I got my heart rate up to 172,not my max but close. I walked a hilly trail the next day easy with friends. My legs felt tired so I did nothing the following day but lay around.

    This morning I went out to do a short tempo type run and about a mile and half into it (after a mile warm up) I got a shart stabbing pain in my left calf. I was afraid I might have pulled because it was very painful. I stopped immediately and didn't try to stretch it, I just walked it out and was able to walk back home. My calf is sore but seems ok, I believe it to be just a bad cramp.

    I have never had this issue before and it puzzles me because it comes after a light walk day and a day off. I drank water all day yesterday and no alcohol. Theses cramps are new to me and I'm trying to figure out what is going on. My diet changed a little but not that much with the exception of increased alcohol consumption, beer and wine.

    I would appreciate any input.


  • #2
    Well I'm not going to waste my time reading that wall of text.

    General Rule of thumb for leg cramps is increase hydration, increase electrolyte consumption, and stretch!


    • #3
      and magnesium
      Here to eat and move like a caveman, not look or stink like one


      • #4
        My first thought was that you may be lacking potassium or needing of some sort of post recovery drink/meal that includes the electrolytes and minerals that you are depleting during your workouts. My suggestion would be coconut water or a banana and some protien. I was experiencing leg cramps for a time after my workouts and I started drinking coconut water immediately after. This seemed to do the trick for me.

        But, I would also be concerned that you may have some sort of injury that is not getting the chance to heal. This would probably be the case if you are getting the leg cramp in the same place. Is the pain in the same leg everytime? If it is, I'm betting you have an injury. If it in both legs or sometimes only one leg, I would assume that you need a better post recovery plan. I would rule out a sprain or torn ligament before you go back to your regular exercise routine.
        Little Miss Sicky Poo
        Ultimate health through primal living, fitness and natural healthcare alternatives.


        • #5
          if you're carbs are really low - ketosis levels - the cramps can get pretty brutal. definitely supplement with magnesium and potassium either way, it helps.


          • #6
            My father has the same problem -- except his are every single night. Supposedly it affects wine drinkers a lot more heavily and severe, and since he's also a runner, he's always in constant pain.
            Although it does help to hydrate yourself constantly, sometimes it just isn't enough.
            Recently he found this amazing product called Cramp911. He's tried everything in the book -- drinking gatorade before bedtime to take in the electrolytes, even took magnesium every day, but nothing worked! This product is the only thing that has helped.
            It's sold over the counter, no prescription needed and it works right away (something my dad really loved)... check it out Leg Cramp, Muscle Cramp, Foot Cramp, Toe Cramp | Leg Cramp Remedy

            Good luck and feel better,



            • #7
              Thanks for the input, I took a couple of days off and all is well. I had never dealt with cramps before so this was new to me. One comment about stretching. It doesn't work and if it had been a strain of some kind actually would have hurt. There is no evidence anywhere that stretching helps. Having said that I feel better when I stretch a little after a run, nothing excessive. The primal squat that Mark advocates some light hamstring stretching and stretching my calves in the downward dog position. I have tried coconut water in the past and will go back to that. Thanks for the in put.


              • #8
                I have had really good results from transdermal magnesium therapy, along with chelated magnesium and potassium supplimentation.
                I wish I liked to eat liver.


                • #9
                  Happened to my husband once... and one of my running friends. Honestly, we ended up chalking it up to a fluke, because it never happened again. I'd say keep doing what you're doing!


                  • #10
                    Not a big runner,but have had similar issues. Particularly the hammie cramps. I found hydration, electrolyte and mineral balance to be part of the equation, but the other part of the solution for me was heavy work....max weight leg presses and squats mixed with kettlebell workouts. Improving muscle tone and mass has also improved elasticity.
                    "Continue being a man and you will be excellent. Pussy will rain from the sky. " - Legbiter
                    Couldn't resist immortalizing this quote.