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  1. #1
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    Shin/Toe cramps?

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    Trying to chase down what might be going on here. Last night before bed I had the oddest "cramps" (for want of a better name) on the bottom part of my left shin (NOT the 'bad knee' leg. Then in the middle of the night I woke with the oddest muscle spasm in the top of my left foot with all of my toes drawing back toward the top of my foot. I've had this at night before, but THAT was in the bottom of my foot with the toes curling under, not backwards.

    I suspect it's a sign of some deficiency in my diet and have so far not been successful finding information. Potassium or magnesium perhaps? Has anyone experienced this type of "cramping" before? Just curious. Also just grabbed a couple dried baby bananas for the potassium.
    Last edited by Catrin; 03-19-2016 at 01:24 PM.

  2. #2
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    What were you doing yesterday?

    I've gotten a cramp like that in my right leg/foot while driving my car after a long bike ride and then putting on compression socks. Or with regular socks but sneakers tied too tight. Pulling over and removing the sock/loosening the shoe solved the problem. I assumed the muscle was tired from all that pedaling and then not reacting well to the combination of pressure on top of my foot while flexing my foot at the angle required for driving.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

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  3. #3
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    Hiked 3.1 miles. A week ago I broke my post-knee surgery hiking distance on a MORE aggressive (4 miles) and deliberately dropped back on Friday to just over 3 miles and an easier terrain to keep me from ramping things up too fast. Same boots, same socks, familiar trail. I may never know what caused it, no problem during or afterwards, only 12 hours later when sleeping. I may never know, just chasing down the usual suspects to see if my body is trying to tell me something. Dr Google says that often the cause is never known.

  4. #4
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    For me, I don't get nighttime cramps if I take more magnesium. Still, I'd guess at least some of it is related to your ramping up your activity. Cramping in those smaller muscles in the feet and lower legs can be an issue for me late in a race, and when that happens, it's because I haven't paid as much attention to the small stabilizers in my training as I have to the larger "drive" muscles that do most of the work. Very likely your whole gait is different than it was before your surgery, and it's those stabilizer muscles that have to adjust to work they may never have done before. Probably you're not going to want to increase distance at the same time you're hiking a more technical trail than you've been used to. And keep up with whatever barefoot balance work you've been doing.


    ETA - not sure what the weather's been like where you are, but if it's warmer and you're sweating more, I almost *always* have a period of adjusting my fluid and electrolyte (including calcium and magnesium) intake.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 03-20-2016 at 06:11 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  5. #5
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    I suspect it's probably all of the above. The 3 miles on Friday wasn't any more technical than the 4 miles last Saturday outside of a sharp descent that I couldn't really do last summer - however it WAS on gravel trails rather than dirt. That is one reason I don't like hiking at that park unless it's too wet to hike elsewhere. It isn't large or loose gravel, but my arthritic right toe is NEVER happy with me at the end of any hike in that particular park - though it's far happier when Iem wearing my Salomon boots. Doesn't bother me with dirt trails, even if much longer. It's also true my gait has changed since the knee surgery - but it didn't trouble me last week with the longer (and overall more technical) dirt mtb trail hike. I also remember my hip wasn't happy with me once I got out of the car Friday when I got home after the 3.1 mile gravel trail hike...should probably stretch at the end.

    I will still be cautious with how I ramp up my distance and choice of trails, make sure I get enough potassium and magnesium, and try to avoid gravel when at all possible.

    Thanks for the comments, just trying to think this through.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    For me, I don't get nighttime cramps if I take more magnesium.
    Ditto this. For some reason, since I broke my tibia 3 years ago, I'm more prone to the exact cramping you're talking about at night if I don't take magnesium (before, it would focus in my calves). I take Slow-Mag daily (2 tablets although the recommended dose is 1). In the summer or when I'm doing tons of activity I take 3.

  7. #7
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    This is good to know and will look for a good supplement. It makes sense and has happened before albeit rarely.

  8. #8
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    FWIW, I recently started taking Nature Made magnesium gel caps - 400 mg magnesium oxide. They're huge but easy to swallow thanks to the coating. (I'm taking it to help with migraines, per something I read from the NIH.) Magnesium oxide is not as well absorbed as other types of magnesium, but most supplements seem to use it. I think the RDA of magnesium for women in our age group is 350 mg.

    There are also food sources, of course, such as almonds.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  9. #9
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    Some of my favorite foods do have magnesium, but apparently not enough. It makes sense that it might be something like this since the cramping, when it comes, only happens at night rather than during the activity or right afterwards. At least it makes sense to me, that's my story & I'm sticking to it Thanks for the brand suggestions, will check out Nature Made on this.

  10. #10
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    Catrin, you may already be doing this, but I would just add that regular calf-stretching after hikes might be helpful for this, also.
    "My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved;I have been given much and I have given something in return...Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and an adventure." O. Sacks

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by salsabike View Post
    Catrin, you may already be doing this, but I would just add that regular calf-stretching after hikes might be helpful for this, also.
    Yeah, I keep thinking about this but forget it until I'm already in my car...and have such hip tightness when I get home that stretching isn't a good option. So I NEED to do this - perhaps a big sticky note on my steering wheel So hips aren't related to calves, but I've so blasted much symmetrical arthritis that it is what it is. I'm bound and determined to stay active - and I love hiking. Well, right now I love whatever I can do that doesn't hurt much

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catrin View Post
    Yeah, I keep thinking about this but forget it until I'm already in my car...and have such hip tightness when I get home that stretching isn't a good option. So I NEED to do this - perhaps a big sticky note on my steering wheel So hips aren't related to calves, but I've so blasted much symmetrical arthritis that it is what it is. I'm bound and determined to stay active - and I love hiking. Well, right now I love whatever I can do that doesn't hurt much
    Totally understand all that in more ways than one.

    Do your calf stretches on the driver's side door of your car before you let yourself get in.
    "My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved;I have been given much and I have given something in return...Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and an adventure." O. Sacks

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catrin View Post
    hips aren't related to calves
    I KNOW you've had enough bodywork and PT in the last few years that you know that isn't true! If your hips are getting that tight, I'd suspect they're part of the problem.

    Not that stretching the calves and hips isn't a bad idea, but I'd focus more on stretching (and strengthening, too) the muscles that are cramping. Stretching only the opposing muscles won't help and might even aggravate the imbalance. Sitting or standing while holding something for balance, toes pointed, flipped down and "anchored" on the ground, then push the ankle forward until you feel the stretch in the anterior compartment; roll the ankle slowly to feel the stretch in different areas in the shin and the top of the foot.

    Also strengthen the ankle and foot extensors with resisted toe raises (sitting on the floor with legs extended, with a stretchy band anchored to something opposite you, is an easy way).

    But I'd stretch the hips, too, if you're noticing them being extra tight. Some of the hip muscles are hard to stretch in the car (unless you have a hatchback, and even then it can be awfully cold in winter), so probably it's best to warm yourself back up when you get home, either with a warm shower or bath or a short brisk walk around the parking lot, then do 20 or 30 minutes of stretching.

    I'm also wary of drugstore brand supplements. There have been so many scandals. I'll spend a little more for a brand I trust. I'm partial to Solaray Cal-Mag Citrate 1:1. Solaray has calcium and magnesium supplements in a variety of formulas - the one I take has oxides as well as citrates, and since they don't specify, it's probably mostly oxides. But it comes in capsules that are both easy to swallow and easy to digest, and most importantly for me is the 1:1 ratio - when I'm sweating a lot, I need at least as much magnesium as calcium, and buying that one saves me from having to get an additional magnesium supplement. It also comes with or without vitamin D, which you might want in winter.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 03-23-2016 at 04:53 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  14. #14
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    That's true Oakleaf, if that hip was so stiff afterwards and that was the same side that cramped that night, there must be some kind of connection. I know my gait has changed and my distance may be just long enough now to have an impact on the (very) slightly unstable surface of the gravel trail.

    Good point on the scandals, will consider that and also look at the Solray. I looked at the Nature Made Mag Citrate last night and couldn't even find what the dosage was. The other types, that are less bio-available had dose information but not the citrate so I passed.

 

 

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