You are probably wondering why a chemical you used in science experiments at school bears any relevance to having cramp in your calf. In fact skeletal muscles rely on the relationship between Calcium and Magnesium to function.
During the contraction phase Calcium is present, once a contraction has engaged further chemical processes are needed for relaxation to occur. Magnesium functions as a Calcium blocker in muscle contractions, thus is used to help in the relaxation phase in both skeletal and cardiac muscle tissue.
So what is Cramp? And why does Cramp happen?
Muscle cramps are caused by a sudden, excessive involuntary contraction.
Cramps can affect any muscle under our voluntary control. And are often bought on by a disturbance in the chemical process responsible for contraction at cell level, namely an imbalance in available chemicals particularly when energy stores are depleted and anaerobic (without the presence of oxygen) energy processes take place, which leaves behind lactic acid as a by-product.
Exercise induced cramp is most commonly caused by this process, there is however the possibility of neurological interference in the formation of cramp at peripheral and spinal nerve level.
Magnesium for cramp
Magnesium can be supplement in various forms with main supplementation and most researched around oral dose, but are there other ways and could they help my cramp?
Cramp is still a widely unexplained phenomena on a physiological level, which gives reason to the vague answers in terms of solutions to treat it. However we undertook a personal experiment around use of Epsom salt baths for training recovery to see if we noticed a difference, I personally don't experience cramp often to test it against cramp but writing this blog got me questioning whether there were benefits I was missing out on.
Topical application via a magnesium spray or Epsom salts activates through the skins absorbent properties, and this means by-passing of the gastrointestinal tract where potency is often lost. As a result some people can note relief from cramp like symptoms by having a topical magnesium management approach.
Magnesium spray can be beneficial to some individuals in the management of their cramp symptoms, even if placebo is playing a strong part. As more around magnesium supplementation emerges we're hoping to find the best ways to improve magnesium levels within the body to reduce and prevent cramp, as well as increasing performance.
This myth buster blog can confirm the importance of Magnesium in the body for nerve and muscle function. However current research cannot confirm nor deny that Magnesium supplementation is the solution to your cramp. If you are considering supplementing Magnesium to see if it will be of benefit to your cramp symptoms check with your GP or a nutritionist first.
Osteopathy for cramp
Other natural approaches to cramp if you are frequently experiencing when exercising could be Osteopath. Osteopaths are qualified to assess and diagnosed musculoskeletal conditions and could give more insight into why you are experiencing cramp on mechanical level.
To book an appointment with Laura Fishlock Osteopathy click here.