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Monday, January 18, 2010


How to avoid cramps?


How to overcome Muscle Cramps in a protracted sesh?

Summer is almost here (see how positive I am: only 5 months to go) and with summer, more skate is on the way. Summer is also the season when cramps are more frequent. Have you noticed that when you skate in winter, you are less subject to cramps? One of the reasons is that in summer, your body heats up too much during a sesh and the cramps kick in. For all that play hard, cramps are normal: it is part of athletic performance of those who are pushing it to the limit. You can go very far with muscle pain, but the trick is to know when and how to answer to cramps warnings and simply stop and when to persevere and push it harder.

It's all right to push through some kinds of pain, for instance with the kind of muscle pain you feel at the end of a sesh, but other kinds of pain demand and require our attention and this includes chest pain, severe abdominal pain or muscle cramps.

Cramps are sudden involuntary contractions of our muscles. They are often so powerful that they bring us to our knees. And don’t tell me this never happened to you. Typically, cramps happen when skaters are pushing themselves beyond their normal limits, when they skate too hard, without stopping or too long. Don’t laugh or brag you never had cramps, because if that is true, that means that you are not skating hard enough, and that’s no jokes.

A lot of things can trigger muscle cramps, including soft tissue injuries, bruises, and electrolyte imbalances, such as a low level of sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium
but the two factors that most affect us, especially in summer are dehydration and muscle fatigue.

Here's what you absolutely need to do when you get a cramp:

- Stop skating immediately or at the very least slow down
- See if you can relax the affected muscle(s). One way to do this is to contract the muscles that do the opposite action.
- Take a mineral supplement, even an antacid containing calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate will often help, of course, I will recommend a cereal bar or just a banana which is very rich in potassium.
- Gently massage the affected area.
- And finally, Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate: here are the best reasons why you should drink more water while skateboarding:

  •  1) Water is an essential component of the human body which is made up of about 43% to 75% of water. You could probably survive for 4 to 8 weeks without food, but it is estimated that lack of water could cause death in about 10 days, at room temperature.
  • 2) Water acts as a nourishing agent. Water circulates through the blood and helps transport nutrients and oxygen towards organs and cells. It acts as a solvent for many nutrients and essential salts and makes them available for absorption by the body.
  • 3) Water is a cleansing agent. It serves as a medium to carry metabolic wastes away from the body; this is accomplished in the form of urine and sweat. Think of it as a detoxifying agent. This is one of the most important functions of water in our body.
  • 4) Water helps reduce the risk of kidney stones. The kidneys filter out waste products from the blood and channel them out of the body through the process of urine formation. Increasing concentration of certain salts in the urine increases the risk of kidney stone formation; and in most cases this risk can be reduced by drinking a lot of water and diluting the urine.
  • 5) Water helps reduce the risk of sunstroke. Water is the single most important factor in the highly critical function of regulating your body temperature. On sunny days, we sweat more and the evaporation of the sweat has a cooling effect on the body. In the absence of sufficient water (when dehydration occurs) in your body, this temperature regulation breaks down and body temperature increases - and this leads to sunstroke. Severe sunstroke has the potential to damage your vital organs.
  • 6) Water helps lower the blood pressure. When you lose more than optimal levels of fluid due to various conditions (not drinking sufficient water, heavy exercise, illness, etc), the body tries to adjust for the loss of water by constricting blood vessels so that the rate of loss of water (due to sweating and respiration) is reduced - which in turn leads to higher blood pressure. Drink ample water to prevent this from happening.
  • 7) Water minimizes the risk of heart disease. Increased dehydration causes your cells and tissues to absorb water from the blood stream and thus decreases the volume of the blood flow (that’s why constriction of blood vessels and the subsequent increase in blood pressure occurs - read #6). Increased blood pressure is a sign of a heart that’s working harder than it should - it tries to pump more blood to excretory organs to compensate for the reduced volume. This could probably worsen a heart related ailment. Sufficient water intake will ensure that this does not happen.
  • 8) Water does not contain calories. Feel free to replace those sugary soft drinks with water; water does not contain any calories - so unlike the soft drinks it’s not going to increase your weight. Some studies have pointed towards how increased water consumption can in fact cause weight loss. Americans consume about 13 billion gallons of calorific drinks every year. You can imagine the net effect that can be achieved by replacing all that with water. Make it a habit - whenever you go to a fast food joint or a restaurant, ask for water instead of a soda.

Of course, you can still get cramps in winter but that’s atypical and if that occurs, or if you have frequent cramps, you should seek a doctor’s advice.

You should not ignore a muscle cramp, trying to push past them can lead to torn muscles or worse. At least, a cramp can prevent you to skate for a couple of days, and just that is not cool. Frankly I suffered lots of cramps last summer until I understood that some simple tricks such as drinking lots of water before, during and after the sesh and eating a cereal bar and a banana can help overcome the problem.

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posted by Xavier Lannes @ Monday, January 18, 2010 




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