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  1. #1
    MAK
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    Calf cramps at night

    I'm a 57 yo male if it matters. Is it a hydration problem or am I likely deficient in some mineral or nutrient?

    Thanks for any input.

  2. #2
    Senior Member dejansen's Avatar
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    Try a banana or potassium before bed.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Hydration.

    I get them too when I don't drink enough during the day. Earlier in the day, when I'm walking around or riding my trainer, or whatever, my feet will cramp if I haven't been drinking enough. A tall glass or bottle of water, and my feet are fine again.

    Unfortunately, I'm reaching the age where I'll be up in the night if I drink water before bed, so I'm now wrestling with how much to drink during the day, and when to stop drinking at night, so that I'm hydrated enough for my calves not to cramp ... but so that I don't have to get up in the night. The joys of getting older, I guess.

    How much do you drink during the day? That old 8 glasses of water a day thing is still a good guideline.

  4. #4
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    Night cramps are a classic symptom of Magnesium deficiency. Yeah I know that I harp on about magnesium deficiency but its a common, population wide issue.

    See, http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/magnesium.asp

    and, http://www.fgb.com.au/Natural%20Rem%...Deficiency.htm

    Regards, Anthony

  5. #5
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    well, my $0.02....(and i know it's not about night cramping, but may be of some benefit to others)

    i've been dieting since July/August of last year (down right at 40# now) and i have had issues with cramping on my rides ever since. went to the dr last week for a checkup and told him of the cramping problems i'd been having (only during rides and usually with duration greater than 2hrs). bloodwork was done - results for ca/mg/k were all normal.

    so...this meant that i was most likely not hydrated enough prior to my rides and maybe needing to eat a bit more and/or add more bananas. last weekend, i had a 3+hr ride planned and the friday before, i ate a huge plate of pasta at lunch and made sure i had drank at least a gallon of water. i had no problems on this ride and felt damn good. OTOH, for the ride i did on monday (3.5hr), i didn't drink enough the day before nor did i eat any pasta and i had some issues with my legs. stretching several times throughout the ride helped that, but i could definitely tell the difference.

    just make sure you are getting enough fluids in during the day and maybe add some bananas. you could also try a bar of soap placed near the foot of the bed...i've heard that this will help with night cramps.....
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    Check me on this but it can also be an indicator of heart disease.
    What is better than getting your heart rate up and saddle time?

  7. #7
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    I don't want to discount what you have to say Wolfpack yet my 2c worth on blood tests for mineral levels is that they tell not much at all unless you are extremely deficient. Our bodies have buffering mechanisms in place that regulate blood levels of magnesium in paticular to a very tight range and you can be VERY deficient yet still have a normal level of magnesium in your blood. Most of our bodies magnesium is in our bones and muscles and when its lacking in our muscles we experience muscle cramps (magnesium is a muscle relaxer) yet this won't show up as any difference in magnesium blood levels.

    Wolfpack, since you've been exercising hard and losing lots of weight you are also a prime candidate for magnesium deficiency despite what the blood tests have shown. I recommend that you just try taking a moderate supplemental dose of magnesium and see how you feel.

    Regards, Anthony

  8. #8
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
    Check me on this but it can also be an indicator of heart disease.
    Yes because heart disease can be brought on by magnesium deficiency. Your heart is your most important muscle.

    Here's a link for the heart disease/magnesium deficiency link, http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/article.cfm?id=151

    Regards, Anthony

  9. #9
    Banned. ModoVincere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnthonyG View Post
    I don't want to discount what you have to say Wolfpack yet my 2c worth on blood tests for mineral levels is that they tell not much at all unless you are extremely deficient. Our bodies have buffering mechanisms in place that regulate blood levels of magnesium in paticular to a very tight range and you can be VERY deficient yet still have a normal level of magnesium in your blood. Most of our bodies magnesium is in our bones and muscles and when its lacking in our muscles we experience muscle cramps (magnesium is a muscle relaxer) yet this won't show up as any difference in magnesium blood levels.
    Wolfpack, since you've been exercising hard and losing lots of weight you are also a prime candidate for magnesium deficiency despite what the blood tests have shown. I recommend that you just try taking a moderate supplemental dose of magnesium and see how you feel.

    Regards, Anthony

    Have to agree here...you can have perfectly "normal" blood levels of any of the electrolytes and still be difficient in the cells. This difficiency inside the muscle cells is what leads to cramping. Its similar to Osteoporosis where the body will maintain an appropriate blood calcium level at the expense of the bones having appropriate amounts of calcium.

  10. #10
    Rawwrrrrrrrrr! wolfpack's Avatar
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    Not a problem Anthony. That’s exactly what I thought…I’ve been exercising a lot and not eating as much…I really don’t think there’s anyway that I can’t be somewhat deficient in these minerals.

    Do you have a suggestion for such a supplement?

    Thanks – wp.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member AnthonyG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfpack View Post
    Not a problem Anthony. That’s exactly what I thought…I’ve been exercising a lot and not eating as much…I really don’t think there’s anyway that I can’t be somewhat deficient in these minerals.

    Do you have a suggestion for such a supplement?

    Thanks – wp.
    Wolfpack, I'm not sure of brands in the US but if you read the labels there are a couple of thinks to look for. To start with I think that you want to take more magnesium than calcium. A lot of multi's have huge amounts of calcium and VERY little magnesium. You need to look at the form of magnesium. A lot of cheap supplements will use magnesium oxide which is the least digestible form and it may lead to loose bowel movements. Mindyou heavy magnesium oxide is one of the safest purgatives if thats what you are looking for. Look for supplements that have magnesium orotate, aspartate, phosphate, glucate, or amino acid chelate but not too much amino acid chelate. Its better than oxide but can still cause me issues.

    Regards, Anthony

  12. #12
    Recumbent Ninja
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    Have you thought to check your seat height? Could be something as simple as being too far away or too close to the pedals.

  13. #13
    self propelled lifer peter_d's Avatar
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    Calf cramps used to happen much more when i was still drinking beer and coffee, from the diuretic action i guess. I'm not sure about magnesium to prevent cramps but i know its supposed to help "restless leg syndrome."

  14. #14
    adjunct cyclist kellefson's Avatar
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    I used to get cramps until I started taking a multivitamin. Don't what's in there that I am missing in my diet, but it works for me.

  15. #15
    Killing Rabbits
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    If your cramps are due to a Ca/Mg disturbance the cause may not be due to a dietary deficiency of the minerals themselves but a disruption of the regulatory system. This is highly plausible during the late winter/early spring as your body's vitamin D stores are at their lowest level of the year. Get a tan and eat some spinach and nuts.

    However, I wouldn't jump to a complicated explanation so soon. Cramps are often just due to overexertion... maybe at 57 you aren't recovering as fast as you used to and now are overdoing it a tad. This is even more likely if you have recently increased your training.

    You could also try elevating the legs a bit after a ride to improve lymph flow out of the lower extremities.

  16. #16
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    My wife has had night cramps in her legs for many years. We eat the same diet and take the same supplements. I don't get cramps. We have tried everything. She takes a magnesium and a potassium supplement and drinks an extra glass of water before bed. She pulls out the covers at the bottom of the bed so her feet can hang over the mattress - this helps more than anything. The only way to stop her cramps is for her to get out of bed and walk around. Then they go away fairly soon. The same muscle seldom cramps more than once a night, though various muscles may cramp at various times.

    Sometimes the cramps will be worse if she has exercised to exhaustion during that day. However she can not exercise for several days in a row and still get cramps. If you read through the medical literature, you will find the the cause or causes of night cramps is unknown. It is still unknown.

    She seldom cramps while riding.

  17. #17
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Do you supplement with any vitamin E? Leg cramping at night can be a sign of poor circulation, and possibly exacerbated by tired muscles from cycling. Vitamin E may help. No first-hand experience with night calf cramps, but I've read the advice elsewhere.

  18. #18
    Senior Member swc7916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfpack View Post
    Do you have a suggestion for such a supplement?
    ZMA: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZMA_(supplement)

    It is patented by SNAC System Inc., and is marketed by several companies. It is best taken before bedtime on an empty stomach. It should not be taken with calcium because of absorbtion problems.

  19. #19
    Senior Member damnpoor's Avatar
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    Not to say that a vitamin won't help, but when I was running a ton sometimes I got them from dehydration. The piss color test is real easy to do; if you wake up in the morning and your first piss looks the same color as apple juice you need to drink more water before bed. If it's clear or slightly yellow you're doing just fine. The darked your piss is the further behind you are on water. Some vitamins also turn piss a neon color, but that's something different.

  20. #20
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roadbuzz View Post
    Do you supplement with any vitamin E? Leg cramping at night can be a sign of poor circulation, and possibly exacerbated by tired muscles from cycling. Vitamin E may help. No first-hand experience with night calf cramps, but I've read the advice elsewhere.
    Yep, 400IU after dinner.

  21. #21
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    drink water. Eat bananas. After a difficult ride do some stretches. I have "The Stick," sold by Performance. Its like a rolling pin. Smoothes out the tight muscles.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






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  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    For me, there is a direct and obvious correlation between dehydration and cramping. I need my 8+ glasses of water a day.

  23. #23
    Super Senior Member Scubachisteve's Avatar
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    Okay, so has anyone ever had cramps or tightness in the front of their lower legs? I've been trying to run a lot on the weekends and it's rare that I can make it more than 2 miles before the muscle in the front of my leg gets so tight that my toe doesn't come back up at the end of my stride, and I end up running flat foot and eventually having to stop. The muscle seems to run up from my ankle just along the outside of my shin bone. For the life of me I can't figure out how to stretch this muscle enough. I'm very flexible everywhere else have well defined and conditioned legs from years of soccer, biking and general fitness activity. I literally feel like I'm in one of those dreams where you can't run even though you're trying. This drives me nuts, Help!

  24. #24
    MAK
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scubachisteve View Post
    Okay, so has anyone ever had cramps or tightness in the front of their lower legs? I've been trying to run a lot on the weekends and it's rare that I can make it more than 2 miles before the muscle in the front of my leg gets so tight that my toe doesn't come back up at the end of my stride, and I end up running flat foot and eventually having to stop. The muscle seems to run up from my ankle just along the outside of my shin bone. For the life of me I can't figure out how to stretch this muscle enough. I'm very flexible everywhere else have well defined and conditioned legs from years of soccer, biking and general fitness activity. I literally feel like I'm in one of those dreams where you can't run even though you're trying. This drives me nuts, Help!
    Sounds like "shin splints" (sic?). I don't know what causes them but I'm sure that a search of the forums or a google search will give you the information needed.

  25. #25
    Spelling Snob Hobartlemagne's Avatar
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    I used to get calf cramps all the time when I jogged. Now that I only excercise on the bike,
    I've never gotten a calf cramp. Could you possibly be flexing you feet downward on the
    lower part of your pedal stroke?

    Anyway- I doesn't hurt to take you vitamins and thouroughly stretch after riding.

    The first rule of flats is You don't talk about flats!

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