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Question
Posted by: Lucas | 2008/10/17

Cramps

Dear FittnesDoc
My son swims and regularly gets severe cramps in his quads, hamstrings and calves when he is training. How can he avoid this or what supplement can he take to prevent it. Would a change in diet make a difference?
Thanks for the info.
Lienette Goosen

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

HI Lienette

Difficult one. It's possible that his cramps are caused by medical related things, and not simply the exercise. There are probably about two dozen possible explanations for cramp, only one of them is exercise related. So it might be worth having a check with a doctor and just rule out any of those conditions.

In terms of what causes an exercise-cramp, we do suspect that it's NOT supplement or electrolyte related. There is this perception that it's caused by salt deficiency, but that does not seem to be true. Instead, it's a function of fatigue, and I'd be interested to know when he cramps. If it's later on in the session when he's tired, then it means it is likely due to the fatigue he experiences during the session. however, if he cramps early, then it's another possibly condition, as mentioned.

If it's fatigue, then training the muscle to get stronger is the likely solution, because a strong muscle is less likely to fatigue and thus cramp. So, it might help him to get into the gym and work on the muscles that cramp. Also, he needs to learn to "pace" himself in training - perhaps he is starting too hard and just not adapting very well to the training.

But I'd see about doing some strength work on the legs first.

Good luck

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