My entire life I have fought muscles cramps. I have had cramps in my legs, toes, feet and even had my lower jaw get a muscle cramp one time. That one brought tears to my eyes. I can’t tell you how many times I have leaped out of bed in the middle of the night to get pressure on my foot. Cramps are never fun, but for me getting woke up by one, while dead asleep is absolutely the worst.
I have figured out over the last couple years, especially this last one while running, that I am chronically dehydrated. I have never drank enough fluids to be even close to properly hydrated. My normal routine for most of my life was milk (in a bowl of cereal) for breakfast, soft drink (with a refill usually) for lunch and a couple glasses of tea for supper. That’s it. No water anywhere to be found. If I was to add up the amount of liquids that I was putting in my body it would be pretty sad. You would think after 5 or 10 years of jumping out of the bed in the middle of the night that I would try to figure out what was causing that, but I didn’t. I always had cramps and figured I always would.
Since I have began training instead of just running I started paying more attention to my water consumption. I finally realized that I ran horrible in the afternoons because by that time I was significantly dehydrated. So I started trying to consistently drink water at work. Luckily I had a good training partner that would send me messages during the day that just said DRINK WATER (thanks Layne). I figured out pretty quick that it made a huge difference. I could run better with water in my body. It was amazing and I am sure that not a single person that will ever read this for all of eternity will be surprised by that. Somehow I was though. I didn’t know I was dehydrated. I didn’t feel it, because I had always been that way.
I noticed a little slower that my middle of the night cramps hadn’t happened for a while. I didn’t mention it because I was afraid to jinx myself, but right now I can’t think of the last time I had a muscle cramp. There are all sorts of debates about what helps, or prevents, them best: eating bananas, drinking water, gatorade, heat, message and even pickle juice. Put me firmly in plain old water camp. I know for a fact that it has helped mine. That doesn’t mean I don’t think the other options could help, but I know for me water was the issue. Hopefully you don’t suffer with cramps, but if you do try everything listed above and then make up some other remedies until you get something that works. I can tell you from personal experience not having them is as good as you would imaging.
Anybody want to place a bet on whether or not I wake up with a cramp tonight?
Here is an article on Runner’s World that talks about what they call Myths and Misunderstandings About Cramps. This guy says he has figured out the cause and the fix. So there you go. Problem solved.