Gym Update
I’ve been having some pretty serious cramping the last couple times I’ve run or biked. It’s generally my right leg, down on the outside above the ankle. I’m really not sure if it’s the calf muscle, a tendon, or my shin; all I know is as soon as I stop moving the whole damn thing seizes up and I can’t walk. I’ve been stretching it throughout my workouts and icing it as soon as I get home – which offers some immediate relief – but it just keeps happening. I think it might be a nutrient deficiency. I saw my doctor this morning and she said the main causes of such cramping are lack of calcium, magnesium, water, and salt. I’m fairly certain I get enough of the first three, but that last one stumped me. I can’t even remember the last time I put salt on my food. I guess that’s pretty typical on Atkins, since you’re not eating the french fries and salty junk food that other people are. I’m going back in two weeks for a follow-up and a blood pressure check, but I’m hoping for some relief in the meantime. Do you runners think it could be the salt? What’s the best way to get more of it in my diet without resorting to dumping it all over my otherwise yummy food? Should I just suck it up and start shelling out for Gatorade whenever I work out?


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  1. do you take vitamins? i think it is potassium, rather than sodium that you need to help prevent cramps. vitamin tablets should contain a certain amount of potassium, so that might help, without you having to put salt on your food or shell out for gatorade.

  2. Yeah, I take a multi-vitamin every day, which is why I didn’t think it’s any of that stuff. Now I’m wondering if I didn’t just strain that muscle. I’ve been icing it all night and it’s just still threatening to cramp.

  3. It’s the combination of calcium, potassium, and sodium that prevent cramping, and since most people get plenty of sodium in their diets, it’s not a typical suspect (as opposed to Ca and K which would be in the suppliments). I took a bioelectricity course in college, and we used to create cool Ca, K, Na charts.

    I know that when I was training for the marathons I just craved salt, and ate lots of salt and vinegar potato chips. If you eat cheese and salt your veggies (I’m a big fan of garlic salt on everything) you could still be getting enough. I’m not trying to dis Atkins, but there is talk about how it’s not really that great for active people who work out a lot. You might want to experiment with a few more carbs. Vinegar is supposed to help, too, which is why ketchup (or salt and vinegar chips) is a good thing to eat when you’re sweating out all of those minerals.

    It might be good to try some Gatorade next time. Between the carbs and electrolites, it might help. I usually dilute it with water, because it’s a little too much on its own.

  4. Thanks everyone. As it’s still tender and stiff today, I’m thinking that the cramping theory is bunk and instead I strained the muscle and I’ve just been straining it again every time I work it. Maybe I should just stay off it for a few days and give it some rest.

    And no sweat about Atkins, Tricia; I’m not *that* sensitive about it. 🙂 But I doubt I’m at the level where I need to worry about it right now. I’m working out three times a week at most and that’s like 70% lifting/30% cardio. And I’m not even running for all the latter. I think it’s just a mild case of tendonitis. At any rate, my doctor should be able to put the vitamin-deficiency to rest the next time I see her.

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