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    #148871 - 04/04/11 01:50 PM Muscle Cramps and Aging
    wandering_daisy Offline
    member

    Registered: 01/11/06
    Posts: 2742
    Loc: California
    As I have aged I have been plagued by more muscle cramps than before. I am not drinking any less water, or even doing anything differently. The muscle cramps come at night out of the blue when I am the most relaxed. Last year I was religious about taking one multivitamin and one calcium-magnesium pill each night and it did see a bit better. The most painful cramps are the hamstring cramps. Ouch! And when in a sleeping bag and small tent it is almost impossible to quickly get out and stand up to stretch the muscle. And maybe it is female specific- I recall my mother also having serious post-menopausal muscle cramp issues. Since the vitamins seemed to help, does anyone know of a supplement designed specifically for muscle cramps?

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    #148875 - 04/04/11 02:32 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    BethON Offline
    newbie

    Registered: 01/07/11
    Posts: 9
    Loc: Near North Ontario
    Calcium, magnesium and potassium deficiencies are all known causes of nocturnal leg cramps, particularly the ham string kind.

    I've always used the 'banana a day' routine to ward them off. Mind you, once I've gone for a while with no leg cramps I tend to slack off until I realize that the cramps are back again.

    Course, my nighttime routine now of having to get up and walk to the bathroom several times a night seems to help too... cry

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    #148877 - 04/04/11 03:30 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: BethON]
    thecook Offline


    Registered: 10/03/08
    Posts: 541
    Loc: Minnesota
    +1 on the calcium, magnesium and potassium.

    One way to lesson the severity of the cramp is to gently bite your lower lip. Sounds weird but it helps.
    _________________________
    If I wouldn't eat it at home, why would I want to eat it on the trail?

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    #148880 - 04/04/11 04:13 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: thecook]
    OregonMouse Offline
    member

    Registered: 02/03/06
    Posts: 6370
    Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
    I very seldom have this problem. I don't know if it's because I use an electrolyte mixture (Hydralite) in my drinking water, which gives me potassium and magnesium. I take calcium supplements every day. Of course those multiple trips outside at night may help, too. grin Interstingly, I haven't had as many of those since I started using the Hydralite.

    The inevitable question: Have you talked to your physician?
    _________________________
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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    #148881 - 04/04/11 04:50 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    billstephenson Offline
    Moderator

    Registered: 02/07/07
    Posts: 3865
    Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
    I get them too, so it may not be female related. I take a variety of vitamins everyday, but still get them.

    For me, it may be a lack of salt. I almost never add salt to anything, and don't eat much stuff that has it. I've been trying to remember to consume a bit more.

    But, what has helped is an acupressure technique my wife read about a few weeks ago in a "Woman's Day" magazine. You pinch your upper lip between your forefinger and thumb for 30 seconds. It's worked every time I've tried it.

    On a hike this past weekend the guy I was with started having a leg cramp while we were hiking. I told him about the acupressure and he did it, and his cramp went away quickly and he wasn't bothered with them again during our hike.

    I know they can be vicious so I hope this helps you too.

    _________________________
    --

    "You want to go where?"



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    #148883 - 04/04/11 05:34 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    Glenn Offline
    member

    Registered: 03/08/06
    Posts: 2617
    Loc: Ohio
    You're not alone - I get them, too. The foot cramps, which tighten up my arches, are bad enough - but like you, the hamstring cramps are the worst.

    I've not been able to isolate any pattern, and they don't happen every time. Like you, they tend to come when I'm most relaxed, and then move my legs quickly.

    Still a small price to pay - I'd rather get a hamstring cramp in my tent, than not get one in my living room.

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    #148887 - 04/04/11 07:13 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: thecook]
    billstephenson Offline
    Moderator

    Registered: 02/07/07
    Posts: 3865
    Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
    I'm sorry, I'd missed the acupressure you pointed out. As I said, it works for me.
    _________________________
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    "You want to go where?"



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    #148889 - 04/04/11 08:28 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    Trailrunner Offline
    member

    Registered: 01/05/02
    Posts: 1835
    Loc: Los Angeles
    It sounds like you have the hydration and mineral angles covered. How about stretching and massage? Both can relieve tightness and enhance circulation.

    I have been using The Stick for about a year to massage my calves, feet and hamstrings after a hard workout and I feel like it realy helps. Much more effective than hands alone. I used to get nocturnal cramps just like yours and I have not had them for a while. I can't give the stick absolute credit for that but I'm sure it doesn't hurt.
    _________________________
    If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

    * May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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    #148955 - 04/06/11 06:40 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    midnightsun03 Offline
    member

    Registered: 08/06/03
    Posts: 2936
    Loc: Alaska
    Supplementing helps, but you may need to be more specific in your supplementing. Calcium actually inhibits the absorption of magnesium, so while you're getting your calcium, you may not be absorbing enough magnesium from other sources. I take my mag throughout the day, but my calcium only at night. I've noticed a HUGE difference and have "cured" several neurological problems I'd been having for years (particularly bladder irritability and frequency!!! And this problem started in my 20's so it wasn't age related). Also, Magnesium absorption is dose dependent - the more you take at one time the less you absorb. In a typical 400mg supplement, almost none will be absorbed. If you're really having issues with magnesium you can use a powdered or liquid form and add it to your food or drink during the day. I can only tolerate about 50-100 mg without nausea, so when I start getting symptoms of deficiency I add it back to my diet.

    Calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are all essential for nerve conduction. If you don't have the right balance of each readily available then you can have all kinds of odd symptoms, muscle cramping being one. You can also have heart palpitations (a problem for me in the summer), and nerve pain (my brachialplexitis flares up when I'm getting low - a good sign for me that I need to supplement!). I also get headaches more easily and find that upping my cal and mag will make them go away pretty quickly. But the biggest thing for me is not getting up from 3-8 times a night to piddle (that is, just pee a little, though I have enough pain as if I have a full bladder). It is amazing how important the minerals are!

    MNS
    _________________________
    YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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    #148958 - 04/06/11 09:18 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: midnightsun03]
    wandering_daisy Offline
    member

    Registered: 01/11/06
    Posts: 2742
    Loc: California
    Lots of good suggestions! Thanks. I will try taking the magnesium in small doses throughout the day. I also have been reading sports medicine stuff on the internet. Figuring out exactly the right proportion of each mineral seems to be hard. Seems like it has to be trial and error because everyone and every situation is different. My main problem is that I am a horrible pill popper. Once I feel OK, I forget to take the pills! or supplements. For me, I still think it is age related- maybe I do not absorb the minerals like I used to. But thanks all, you gave me lots of good ideas.

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    #148959 - 04/06/11 09:54 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    Joshuatree Offline
    member

    Registered: 12/30/10
    Posts: 62
    Loc: Wisconsin
    I used to work with and older guy he was in his 80's. He talked to his doctor about cramping in his legs and the Dr. told him to drink Tonic water because the Quinine helps relieve cramping. She said she could prescribe quinine pills to him but the tonic would work as well and was cheaper. He said it worked and that as long as he drank a glass at night before bed he had no more problems.

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    #154155 - 08/29/11 10:36 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    billstephenson Offline
    Moderator

    Registered: 02/07/07
    Posts: 3865
    Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
    I thought I'd update this thread since I have a bit of new info.

    This summer I haven't been plagued by leg and foot cramps near as much as last. I've done a few things different. I've taken calcium and magnesium supplements on alternate days (as per MNS's advice), I've made a point to eat some salt (which I hadn't done in years) and drink a bit more water, and that's about it. The only times I can say I had the problem this year was when I didn't do that for a few days, and I've always taken the cal/mag/salt/water as soon as they flared up and they stopped. None have been near as severe as last year, not even close.

    Also, over this past weekend someone mentioned that pickles help prevent leg cramps. It was probably something they read in one of the "Womans" magazines. My wife gets those magazines, she's not the one who read it, but after hearing of it she made a point to let me know about it. Pickles have a lot of salt in the solution, so that's possibly why they might help with this, but the vinegar, garlic, and dill might also have stuff that helps too.

    We're just starting to eat our homemade dill pickles, so I can get my salt there now, and if the rest of those ingredients add something of a benefit, all the better wink

    _________________________
    --

    "You want to go where?"



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    #154162 - 08/30/11 12:48 AM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: billstephenson]
    daryn Offline
    member

    Registered: 08/22/11
    Posts: 19
    Hi Bill,
    Check this about vinegar-
    On vinegar

    I had, read, and believed the Jarvis book. I still believe vinegar ( with the mother, not the diluted stuff we get by the gallon from "Heinz" or store brand ) is good for kidney stones and other ailments. "Miracle cure"? Well... maybe everyday 3 times a day and if you're truly devoted... ( you might end up full of "p#%^ and vinegar"!!! wink

    I have a friend slightly older than me who recently used food grade diatomaceous earth ( diatomaceous earth ) as a supplement and it helped rid him of chronic pain associated with a disabling bone injury. I firmly believe he had a mineral deficiency related to his almost vegetable free "meat and potatoes" diet. (he has since taken up eating some veggies!) My wife and I tried the diatomaceous earth and it wasn't nearly as pronounced in it's effect on us. We both eat a lot of veggies and grow them in our garden. Diatomaceous earth has a lot of trace mineral content, hence my belief that my friend was more strongly affected by it's mineral content. but...
    Who knows? I just know that it really worked for him.
    I may be rambling here and if I am , I apologize.
    ATB!

    edit- On tonic water, I believe it used to have a much higher quinine content and so now, it is far less helpful as a "tonic". ( I think this is another thing "they" have decided is too dangerous for us to use. ) Tastes like watered down 7-up.. IMHO.


    Edited by daryn (08/30/11 01:28 AM)

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    #154184 - 08/30/11 05:03 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: billstephenson]
    Heather-ak Offline
    member

    Registered: 07/11/10
    Posts: 597
    Loc: Fairbanks, AK
    Also of note, my husband's doctor also suggested taking benadryl at bedtime to help with leg cramping at night. Though his leg cramps seem to be caused by another of his meds (though better leg cramps than severe headaches!)

    YMMV

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    #154242 - 09/01/11 08:51 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: Heather-ak]
    midnightsun03 Offline
    member

    Registered: 08/06/03
    Posts: 2936
    Loc: Alaska
    Heather... would his "other med" causing the leg cramps be a cholesterol medication?

    MNS
    _________________________
    YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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    #154243 - 09/01/11 08:54 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: billstephenson]
    midnightsun03 Offline
    member

    Registered: 08/06/03
    Posts: 2936
    Loc: Alaska
    Thanks for the update Bill! I'm glad to know that the supplements helped, especially taking them in the alternating manner. Nutrition is POWERFUL medicine, but it can be hard to figure out because one person's needs can be so different from the next.

    MNS
    _________________________
    YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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    #154259 - 09/02/11 01:58 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: midnightsun03]
    Heather-ak Offline
    member

    Registered: 07/11/10
    Posts: 597
    Loc: Fairbanks, AK
    I'm not sure - he takes cholesterol, blood pressure, insomnia, migraine and allergy... and he's only 36. The doc told him which one, but I can't remember. =)

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    #154323 - 09/05/11 07:19 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: Heather-ak]
    midnightsun03 Offline
    member

    Registered: 08/06/03
    Posts: 2936
    Loc: Alaska
    If he is taking cholesterol drugs he should also be taking CoQ10. Those drugs deplete CoQ10 from the muscles, which can lead to muscle fatigue and soreness. It is essential for the production of energy (Kreb's Cycle) in the muscles, and when it is in limited supply the muscles are limited in their ability to respond. We normally absorb plenty from our diet, but some people are deficient for one reason or another. It has many proven benefits for heart health, esp. Blood Pressure, too. He should also try taking small doses (i.e. ~100 mg at a time) of magnesium several times a day (not a single large dose - large doses are not absorbed well, but small doses are - and not in combo with calcium). The Mg will help with both the muscle cramping and the migraines.

    MNS
    _________________________
    YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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    #154444 - 09/07/11 09:44 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: midnightsun03]
    midnightsun03 Offline
    member

    Registered: 08/06/03
    Posts: 2936
    Loc: Alaska
    Here is a good link on the health benefits of CoQ10. I have been taking it for 3 months now and I have to admit that I am absolutely a believer. I have noticed a tremendous difference in my stamina and cardio capacity in the last month. To say I have struggled with both my whole life would be an understatement. As an example I have cut 10 minutes off my walk time to school (2.5 miles, mostly uphill, from 45 to 35 minutes) and 15 minutes of a hike I do regularly, which is also mostly uphill and also about 2.5+ miles. I have decreased my time even though I had been quite sedentary most of the summer (so can't chalk it up to training). Not everyone will have the same response, but it is worth trying, especially if you have high BP, high cholesterol, or general exercise limitations or intolerance.

    MNS
    _________________________
    YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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    #154460 - 09/08/11 05:30 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: midnightsun03]
    Heather-ak Offline
    member

    Registered: 07/11/10
    Posts: 597
    Loc: Fairbanks, AK
    I'll give it a try. He has a difficult time with some vitamins and herbs (some simply make him nauseated and others make him really hot - he's weird, but I knew that before I married him wink )

    Doc has him on magnesium, which sometimes makes him ill - so he's on a lower dosage than the dr would like.

    I really appreciate it!

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    #154467 - 09/08/11 09:06 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: Heather-ak]
    midnightsun03 Offline
    member

    Registered: 08/06/03
    Posts: 2936
    Loc: Alaska
    Heather, I can't tolerate more than about 100 mg of Mg+ at a time either... severe nausea and "rapid evacuation". The reason is that in higher doses Mg+ is rejected by the body rather than being absorbed, and it actually increases peristalsis and elimination, which is part of the reason why it is effective in relieving constipation (think Milk of Magnesia). In low doses, however, the body recognizes it as a necessary nutrient and absorbs it readily, so long as it is not taken with calcium at the same time. I can do several small doses throughout the day without the nausea. I have powdered mag citrate that I add in tiny increments to my drinks several times a day when I really feel like I need it (nerve pain and/or muscle cramping). It helps a great deal. I usually do the Mg+ starting in the morning until mid-day, then take my Ca++ at bedtime. He should be taking both to ensure his ratios are balanced (unless his doc doesn't want him taking Ca++ - he is on alot of meds).

    The CoQ10 is best taken at night with Vitamin E. Apparently that helps with absorption. According to the literature (and my experience) it can take several weeks to have an effect.

    I'd love to hear how it goes in a few months!

    MNS

    _________________________
    YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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    #155876 - 10/15/11 06:13 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    EdHutto Offline


    Registered: 12/17/08
    Posts: 1
    Loc: Carpinteria, CA
    Daisy--After looking around for electrolytes in a ready made package, I found that "Emergen-C" had 50 mg calcium, 60 mg magnesium, and, most importantly, 200 mg of potassium per package. That's four times that found in Gatorade. In recent hikes over 5 miles, 2 packages of Emergen-C in a pint or quart of water taken upon reaching camp for the night has prevented cramps. A problem is that I have to force feed myself the drink as I am too tired to be thirsty. The taste is OK. Before finding this remedy I often had severe hamstring cramps in the tent. At age 69, I now have more comfort in extending the comfort zone.

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    #155898 - 10/16/11 03:53 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: EdHutto]
    wandering_daisy Offline
    member

    Registered: 01/11/06
    Posts: 2742
    Loc: California
    Good time for an update! I do use Emergen-C. I also now take a multivitamin each night. I also am careful about getting into awkward positions at night- particularly sitting up in the tent at night and getting in and out of the tent. There are certain positions that I have learned to avoid because they always trigger cramps. Cramping has reduced significantly. My last trip I got really dehydrated (very hot and lots of sweating) and had a few cramps starting but was able to massage them before they got bad. I think the multivitamin has helped more than anything.

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    #155949 - 10/17/11 12:50 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: wandering_daisy]
    billstephenson Offline
    Moderator

    Registered: 02/07/07
    Posts: 3865
    Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
    A few weeks ago while lying in bed I started to cramp up and I took a small piece (about 1/4)of a 250 mg Magnesium tablet and let it dissolve on my tongue. I might be wrong, cramps do tend to stop all on their own if I stretch and massage a bit, but it seemed to help, and very quickly at that.

    I assume that's low dose so it's probably worth trying to see if it works consistently. It'd be nice to find something that does.
    _________________________
    --

    "You want to go where?"



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    #179992 - 10/01/13 01:38 PM Re: Muscle Cramps and Aging [Re: billstephenson]
    D Lee Offline
    newbie

    Registered: 07/12/13
    Posts: 10
    Over the past couple of years I had problems with leg cramps during the night too, especially after hiking or other vigorous exercise in warm weather. My doctor said, most likely electrolyte imbalance. So I toook the usual supplements. They helped, but what really solved the problem was increased salt consumption.

    When we were young and active athletes, our coaches encouraged us to take salt pills in warm weather. It was good advice then and good advice now. If you are exerting yourself and sweating, try increasing your salt intake with food or use salt pills to keep cramps at bay.

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