Login
Sign Up  |  
ForumFitness & ExerciseFitness & ExercisePersistent cramp problem in left inner calf musclePersistent cramp problem in left inner calf muscle
Persistent cramp problem in left inner calf muscle
 
Oct 20, 2009 06:08 AM
andrewebling
13 posts

Hi guys,

I've been regularly working out since January and feel so much better for it, both in terms of energy, concentration and also general well being.

However in recent months I've developed a persistent cramp problem in my left inner calf muscle. Roughly 1 in 5 cardio sessions it starts as slight tightness and if I don't stop immediately (which can be impossible or dangerous if I'm out on my bike) I get full on cramp.

The first time it happened about 3 months ago, the pain was the most excruciating I've ever experienced - it literally felt like the muscle was going to rip itself to pieces and I spent the next day in bed with ice on it. It then took 3-4 days of taking it easy and gentle stretching before I was able to go back to the gym. The problem didn't re-occur for about a month.

The cramp is always in exactly the same place and it's in a thin band of muscle down the mid/inner calf. When I train in the gym, I do interval training on the bike - 30 seconds at 75 watts, then 30 seconds at 250-300 watts, repeated for 12-15 mins. I don't think i'm over-doing it as the peak feels like about 9/10 effort, I'm not out of breath, my legs do not feel tired until the end of the workout, but I'm at near maximum heart rate most of the time. Sometimes I do intervals on the rower using the 500m/30s(r) program for 4 or 5 cycles (doing 2:00/500m pace) and sometimes I do intervals on the cross trainer. All three of these can bring on cramp, but the bike seems to be the worst culprit.

Ironically the cramp often seems to kick in during the "rest" in interval training. When I'm out on my bike, it often kicks in when I'm taking it easy and cooling down on the way home. I always stretch and warm up and also cool down and stretch at the beginning/end of my workouts. I make sure I'm fully hydrated at all times.

I'm also doing a general weights program - aiming to "bulk up a bit" rather than become an "arnie", plus some ab exercises as well as the cardio - so for the legs pushing 109Kg on the leg press and 45kg on leg extension and leg curls. I go to the gym about 3 times a week and always aim to have a day off between workouts. Any ideas what could be causing this problem?

Sometimes I wonder if it's the TTP shake I use after a work out from time to time - it's my reward if I feel I've had a really good session :). Or it could just be that I'm prone to cramp on the next workout after a good workout.

thanks,

Andrew

Oct 20, 2009 11:28 AM
TravisSteffen
2004 posts

Hi Andrew,

Cramps in the calf and hamstring area are some of the most common places to cramp up. Typically cramps stem from a shortage of electrolytes to your muscles. If you're engaging in high amounts of cardio - as you say you are (which is great, don't let up!), you are going to need to switch your hydration strategy up a little.

Try pre-hydrating with a sports drink an hour or so before your workout. If what you're experiencing is indeed a cramp, electrolytes are what you need!

Hope this helps. Keep us posted.

-Travis


Travis Steffen

WorkoutBOX Team
Where online fitness is simple

Oct 22, 2009 05:26 AM
andrewebling
13 posts

Hi Travis,

Many thanks for the reply.  I've been wondering about sports drinks - given the main aim of my cardio sessions is to spike the metabolism and so burn fat, I've avoided sports drinks to date.  I know they aid with absorbing water quickly, but the extra calorie intake would surely defeat the point of doing cardio in the first place?  Or best just to give it a try a few times and see if it helps?

Would one of those oral rehydration sachets - like you take to rehydrate during/after a stomach bug - do the same job without increasing calorific intake?

thanks,

Andrew

Oct 22, 2009 10:31 AM
TravisSteffen
2004 posts

Hey Andrew,

There are a number of sports drinks out there, and a serving will typically range from 10-150 calories. If you were to drink, say, 10 of these per day, it may in fact make your weight loss goal slightly more difficult. However, drinking a sports drink prior to exercise to remedy a persistant cramping problem is not going to have a major effect on your overall progress. Not only is this a relatively low amount of calories, they're clean and efficient calories that are being ingested for a purpose.

If you still find yourself conscious of this, try some of lower-calorie sports drinks out there (G2, PowerAde Zero, etc.) or simply use an electrolyte packet in a glass of water.

Anything you're ingesting for this purpose will contain some amount of calories. I personally really dislike these kinds of drinks as the taste and consistency bother me, but check your food labels to see if you're getting the same amount of nutrients from each. If so, it's all up to you.

Just remember that this is what they made the sports drink for in the very beginning. As commercialized as they are now, they still serve a useful purpose at times, this being one of them.

 

 


Travis Steffen

WorkoutBOX Team
Where online fitness is simple

Nov 17, 2009 07:45 AM
andrewebling
13 posts

Thanks for your help - I Tried using an energy drink for the past few weeks and the problem seems to have improved but not gone away altogether. Is there anything else you would recommend trying?

thanks,

Andrew

Nov 17, 2009 08:06 AM
TravisSteffen
2004 posts
While cramping is typically caused by low sodium levels, it can sometimes be contributed to by low potassium and/or calcium levels. Supplementing these nutrients in pill form might be the easiest way to go about fixing this for good.

Travis Steffen

WorkoutBOX Team
Where online fitness is simple

Jun 11, 2010 05:31 AM
se99jmk
2 posts

Hi - Re-igniting an old topic ;-)

I've been doing a class called BMF (British Military Fitness - www.britmilfit.com), outdoor exercise that's a mix of cardio and strength exercises, for about 6 months now.
I was doing great and gradually moving up in difficulty, but the last couple of weeks I've been getting similar symptoms to Andrew:

  • Calf cramping ONLY on the left
  • Starts of a slow pain and unless I stop right away it becomes agonizing
  • Still felt the next day (even if I stopped when it just started to ache)
  • Only seems to happen at the cool-down phase of each session, throughout the rest it's perfectly fine..

In addition I've felt incredibly lethargic, though Iron pills seem to be combating that.. I drink a large amount of water during the session (and there's a water break in each 1 hour session), so I don't think it's hydration, it's been suggested I try a banana before-hand to increase potassium levels.

I'm very curious though, why would it only be the left, and why during the cool-down phase only?

Jun 11, 2010 05:59 AM
andrewebling
13 posts

Hello,

Managed to shake off this problem after a fitness trainer at the gym showed me a more aggressive calf stretch to use, in addition he recommended that I only stretched after a session, as opposed to stretching before and after, which I was doing before.

I tried a number of things including drinking even more water, energy drinks etc. But ultimately I think it was the change of stretch routine that helped the most.

Hope that helps - I know how frustrating this sort of problem can be.

thanks,

Andrew

Jun 11, 2010 06:08 AM
se99jmk
2 posts

Unfortunately can't avoid the warm up really (everyone does it together as part of the session), but I'll definitely try some more aggresive stretches!
Thanks for your help Andrew

Jun 11, 2010 06:28 AM
andrewebling
13 posts

I still always do a 5 minute cardio warm up (normally on the cross trainer) at about 7/10 intensity, I just don't do a full range of stretches like I used to. The trainer at the gym explained that doing stretches relaxes the muscles and if you do stretches before excercise it can actually increase the changes of getting cramp.

Jun 11, 2010 12:32 PM
TravisSteffen
2004 posts
The whole banana thing is actually a myth, though a lot of people are pretty adamant that it works (if it does something for them, it's usually due to the placebo effect). Electrolytes is what you're going for here to avoid cramping. If supplementing your electrolytes isn't working for you, I would doubt that it's a true muscle cramp, and it may be something else entirely. A muscle strain isn't unlikely, though I'd talk to your doctor to be sure.

Glad to hear a warm-up and stretching are working for you Andrew!

Travis Steffen

WorkoutBOX Team
Where online fitness is simple

Are you a great trainer?
Join hundreds of brilliant fitness trainers and build your brand - and make money - by creating your own interactive online fitness company on WorkoutBOX. It’s easy and FREE!
» Learn more
About Us  |  Trainers  |  Support  |  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy
© 2009-2014 WorkoutBOX.com