Does a Recovery Drink Help Prevent Muscle Cramping?

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Question:

I’ve been cramping a lot recently during exercise and would like to know if Mike’s Mix Recovery Drink would help prevent muscle cramps? Does stretching before a workout prevent this cramping or hasten recovery after cramping?

 

Answer:

I wish I could sell you a product that would remedy your muscle cramps, but alas I’m afraid such a potion does not exist. Although the exact causes of exercise induced muscle cramping are still unknown, there are several popular theories:

-Altered neuromuscular control

-Dehydration

-Electrolyte depletion

-Poor Conditioning

Through successful marketing campaigns, the manufacturers of sports and energy drinks, have popularized the dehydration and electrolyte depletion theories. However, research has failed to demonstrate that these mechanisms cause muscle cramping: http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/legpainandinjuries/a/muscle_spasms.htm

 

Instead, it appears that altered neuromuscular control, which is related to muscle fatigue and results in a disruption of muscle coordination and control, is the most likely culprit for exercise related cramping. However, from personal experience and observation, it seems much more likely to develop these types of cramps in extreme heat. Consequently, via intuition I would still encourage you to increase your daily water intake even if there is currently no research to support this.

 

Before Mike’s Mix became my full-time job, I was a personal trainer and coach and dealt with muscle cramping routinely. Most often the cause of this cramping was the introduction of a new, demanding exercise. With the calves, quadriceps and hamstring muscles being most susceptible. Lunges and squatting were the most common culprits for quadriceps cramping. I suspect that you are in fantastic shape, but the introduction of a new routine has stressed your muscles in a novel way. Here is how I recommend remedying your situation:

-Identify the likely exercises that caused your cramping. Cut the volume of these exercises in your routine by 50%. In the next couple weeks bring that volume back slowly until you are successfully acclimated to the exercises.

-Warm up properly. Don’t stretch for your warm-up, this is doing you more harm than good (will cover this more in a bit). Start with at least 5 minutes of light cardiovascular activity and follow this with some gentle range of motion exercises. Here is a great research backed recommendation for warm-ups: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/02/sports/playmagazine/112pewarm.html?_r=1

-Don’t sit down immediately after exercise. I’m afraid I don’t have any research to support this, in fact I don’t believe there is any evidence to suggest that a cool-down is helpful: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/health/nutrition/15best.html

But the worst cramping injuries I have sustained are the times I have gone from intense exercise to immobile and sitting, such as a long drive in a car. Stay standing or go for a short walk after exercise.

-Approach new exercises, especially leg exercises , with some prudence.

-Gentle massage and light walking seem to hasten the healing process. Again, I can only speak from experience and have no studies to back this.

 

Back to stretching.

Static stretching, which is different than active stretching like yoga, is one of the most controversial topics in athletics and physical therapy today. Although it is commonly believed that static stretching reduces the rate of injury and is commonly used for therapy, there is no research evidence to support either. In fact, the rate of injury coupled with a substantial temporary reduction in muscle strength has now been thoroughly documented:

http://www.tothemaxfit.com/articles/pdf/FlexibilityInjuryReview.pdf.

When I began training and coaching I recommended static stretching. However, over time I noticed that a good deal of injury occurred as a result of stretching before exercise. I also noticed that static stretching often exasperated existing injury. Consequently, I now recommend no form of static stretching, but do encourage forms of whole body exercise that build strength and flexibility such as yoga and rock climbing. This anti-stretching movement is gaining appeal to many health-professionals as research accumulates that indicate this practice does more harm than good. If you would like to read more here is a well-thought out argument from a well informed doctor entitled “Stop Stretching”: http://www.drgangemi.com/2011/04/stop-stretching/

 

Conclusion:

Having said all that, Mike’s Mix will probably indirectly reduce your chances of muscle cramping. Mike’s Mix helps you come back energized for your next workout, provides amino acids and increase insulin sensitivity to promote muscle repair, and helps control appetite by providing quick calories immediately after your workout when blood sugar is low. If your body is properly recovered and your muscles better ready for strain, which is what Mike’s Mix is for, it is a reasonable assumption that you are less likely to incur muscle cramping. The stronger and healthier you are the less negative reactions to exercise that will occur.

 

Comments

  1. I am on my second week of Insanity and I just received your Recovery Drink Chocolate flavor. I tried 2 Scoops with 1/2 water and 1/2 milk. WOW it was DELISCIOUS. I notice 3 Scoops are 378 calories, will I be ok if I only use 2 scoops instead of 3. I am trying to loose weight and tone up. I am 37 years old, 5’8′ and weight 175 lbs. I would like to lose 15-20 lbs. I am not in a hurry. Hope to hear from you soon……and I will keep DIGGING DEEP> that’s what Shaun T says… :)

  2. Thanks for choosing Mike’s Mix. You probably don’t need to be taking the full three scoops after your workouts, especially if you are mixing with some milk. I wrote a post that covers customized serving size options in some detail: http://mikesmixrecoverydrink.com/serving-size-recommendations-recovery-drink/ If you still have questions after reading this or have any other unrelated questions I would be more than happy to answer them. Best of luck with your training and weight loss goals. Take Care, Mike

  3. Mike, I was starting to wonder about you, I ordered your mix on Thursday of last week and got it today, Wednesday but man was the wait worth it. I have been crashing really hard after P90X work outs. I got yor mix today, ran to the postman mid workout just to get it. After the workout I drank 2 scoops with 16 oz of water and waited…I felt like I was going to crash again, eyelids getting heavy then about 30 min later I pulled out of it and have great energy. WOW thanks Mike I really needed your product. Who ever is thinking about getting this product, stop thinking and buy. It will be the best thing you have ever done for your body to recover.

  4. Hey Carlos,

    Thanks for the glowing endorsement. I’m terribly sorry about the delay in receiving your order. We had some complications with USPS last week and a we lost a day or two in shipping. If you still have your order information send it to me (mike@mikesmixture.com) and I will refund your shipping cost to make it up to you. Next time I’ll get it to you quicker. Best of luck with your training.
    Mike

  5. Ken Musto says:

    Muscle cramps are temporary contractions of the muscles and they usually appear during physical effort. The sensation is similar to the one you have when you feel a strong, involuntary tightening of the muscle group that you can’t control any more. There are many causes which bring about cramps, but they happen most often because of insufficient warming up before training. Good and correct warming up has two stages: the general one (cardio), for increasing the body temperature (running, cycling, etc.) and the specific one, during which the main joints and groups of muscles which will be involved in training are warmed up. It is enough not to give, from different reasons (rush, superficiality, ignorance), the necessary time or importance to one of these stages, and cramps can become a current phenomenon.’

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