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Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt October 9, 2016
HEALTH & FITNESS
ut of the blue it
happens. For no ap-
parent reason, it
seems, but it always takes
you by surprise. The pain
can be excruciating!
When your muscle contracts vio-
lently, it feels as though it has been
shocked by electricity, or like some-
one has put a vice around your foot,
calf muscle, hamstring, etc.
Although you feel as though it
will never end, in reality you have
had a cramp!
A cramp is an experience so com-
mon amongst endurance athletes
and those who train regularly. A
cramp is when your muscle goes in
to a hard, tense, painful state and
you can't relax it. If you've had one,
there is no mistaking it! Cramps can
occur during exercise, immediately
after, or even up to six hours later!
Funny enough, there is no real bio-
logical explanation for cramps.
Although there are few scientists
who have studied the phenomenon,
as with anything else, there are
times when cramping can be di-
rectly related to medical issues and
deficiencies in the body. However,
the vast majority of cramps have
been found to be common side ef-
fect of exercise.
Although no one has actually
taken up the study, there are rec-
ommended ways to attempt to pre-
vent and deal with them, or at least
calm the pain.
1. Drink more fluid. The cramp-
ing may be caused by dehydration.
Make sure you are prop-
erly hydrated through-
out the day and
especially during and
after a workout.
2. Excessive sweating
depletes the body of sodium
and potassium. This ultimately de-
creases the electrolytes in the body.
This affects the connection be-
tween muscles and nerves. It is
usually recommended that one con-
sumes salty fluids like a sports
drink. This has helped to relieve and
3. Some believe cramping is an
imbalance that occurs when a mus-
cle becomes fatigued. Recommen-
dations are to exercise less
intensely and for shorter periods of
time. Be sure you have enough car-
bohydrates to fuel your muscles
and to train sufficiently. Most im-
portantly, stretch the muscles that
give you problems regularly.
So what really causes cramps?
The jury is still out. I can personally
attest to the use of all three recom-
mendations and all of them have
worked to relieve the pain. So, the
best advice is to always properly
prepare yourself before an intense
workout. Fuel your body all day,
drink water consistently throughout
the day and not all at once. When a
cramp strikes, try to massage it out,
walk on it to get the blood flowing,
Try the methods above, take your
time and give your body what it
needs to calm down.
hese are some of the
most burning ques-
tions that I get asked
on a daily basis.
WHY DO I STORE FAT
ON MY STOMACH?
Genetics will determine where your
body stores fat, be it your arms, legs, butt or stomach. One
belief is that fat is the body stores fat around the abdomen
to protect the vital organs beneath.
WHY DO MY MUSCLES BURN WHEN I WORKOUT?
That burning feeling is from a build-up of lactic acid. Our
bodies turn sugars and oxygen into energy for use by work-
ing muscles and lactic acid is a by-product of that process.
It's perfectly normal and the more fit you become is the
more efficient your body gets in removing that lactic acid.
WHY AM I SO SORE AFTER A WORKOUT?
When you workout, muscle fibers experience small tears
called micro trauma. These tears will heal while you rest,
causing muscles to grow. Soreness isn't always an indica-
tion of how effective a workout was so be careful of using
it as a gauge.
WHY DO I FEEL SO HUNGRY AFTER I WORKOUT?
To heal muscles, your body needs nutrients. Those pro-
teins, fats and carbs that you eat are used to repair mus-
cles and replenish any lost nutrients. A postworkout meal
is one of the most important meals of the day so you defi-
nitely don't want to skip it.
WHY IS ONE SIDE OF MY BODY
STRONGER THAN THE OTHER?
We're programmed by birth to favour one side over the
other. Most of us have one muscle on one side larger than
its counterpart on the other. It's totally normal, just do a
few extra isolation sets and reps on the smaller or weaker
muscle to help with symmetry.
WHY DOES MY WEIGHT FLUCTUATE EVERY DAY?
There are many factors here but largely it can be due to
different levels of activity and your food intake. Those
small day to day fluctuations are usually due to different
levels of water content in the body and not due to different
levels of fat.
Hope you've got some answers!
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