Another thing that surprised me when I first came to Los Angeles was to see all those people exercising in crowded gyms. I thought they were so brave: not only they were putting a lot of hard work and sweat (and maybe tears) to stay in shape and keep their ”California” figures, but they were doing it in a window where everybody could watch them (for me this was unthinkable!). Now of course I am used to it. And I am assuming that among all those people and many others who practice all sorts of physical exercise, there must be many who suffer from cramps and muscle aches. So, let’s talk about it:
First of all, cramps are different from muscle stiffness:
Stiffness occurs 24 to 48 hours after the physical activity, it limits the range of movement and last for several days with a gradual improvement. It is mainly felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your routine, or dramatically increase the duration or intensity of it. It is the result of microscopic tearing of the muscles fibers and it is a normal response to unusual exercise. This is part of an adaptation process that leads to greater stamina and strength as the muscles recover, produce new fibers, and grow bigger. Depending on the kind of activity you are engaging in, it will be predominantly felt in different parts of the body: for example in the quadriceps when skiing.
Cramps are more localized and occur during the exercise or suddenly at night (calves) and do not last more than a few minutes. A cramp is described as a spasm in a muscle that is unable to relax. It feels like a sharp pain.The intensity, duration, and recurrence vary. When it is due to overexertion, it can occur during the activity or several hours later.
There are many different situations that can cause cramping sensations throughout the body and this is often a combination of several factors such as:
- improper warm up
- sudden and prolonged effort, especially if you are usually sedentary and just decided to start exercising
- muscular fatigue and muscular asphyxiation due to accumulation of lactic acid
- electrolyte imbalance
- dehydration (we generally think about it when it is hot, but in colder temperatures, we often do not realize that we are sweating and we do not feel the need for drinking water),
- if you go skiing or hiking, keep in mind that alcohol and high altitude contribute to dehydration, so you might want to stick to root beer (who am I kidding?)
Here are some homeopathic solutions that I have seen work pretty well and fast:
1/ For sudden cramping at night, mainly in the calves (people who have experienced those know exactly what I am referring to and how painful this is.The others probably don’t care.)
Cuprum metallicum (which is a homeopathic dilution of copper) is used in many different indications like hiccups, diarrhea with intestinal spasms, spasmophilia, etc. In nocturnal cramps, especially in the calves, use Cuprum metallicum 6C or 12C, 5 pellets before bed and 5 pellets when cramps occur.
2/ For cramps due to muscular fatigue and accumulation of lactic acid
Sportenine: this is another of Boiron‘s formulas that is not very well-known but that you will like once you have tried it. Not only it helps with the cramps but it relieves the stiffness, and improves stamina. It combines arnica montana and other homeopathic medicines.
When you exercise or maintain a physical effort you are consuming energy to make your muscles work. It also produces heat that leads to sweating and dehydration. At the muscular level, there is accumulation of lactic acid which causes muscular asphyxia that leads to fatigue, cramps, and muscle aches and stiffness. By limiting the accumulation of lactic acid (thanks to sarcolacticum acidum that speeds up its metabolism), Sportenine prevents muscle asphyxia, fatigue, cramps, and muscle aches. It delays the moment when your muscles are asphyxiated and fatigued so you can prolong your activity. Sore, overtaxed muscles might take up to a week to recover and nobody wants to work out when they’re already stiff and sore. That is why many people who are new to a sport give up early on. By relieving those, Sportenine helps maintaining a routine.
Dosage (age 2 and older):
•Chew 1 tablet immediately prior to physical exercise.
•Depending on the length and intensity of your workout, repeat dosage during and after exercise up to 6 tablets per day
Know that each tablet contains 1.5 g of Dextrose which is a form of glucose and a source of energy, but can also contribute to dehydration if you take too much. So limit your intake to 6 tablets. If you are diabetic, talk to your physician about it.
Sportenine is good for any type of physical activity and for those who are into soccer, it is used by the French soccer team and very popular among soccer players.
3/ For muscle stiffness, arnica montana remains the number one homeopathic medicine, because of its action on inflammation, swelling and soreness.