And here I was: 25 massage therapists, 9000 runners and a stunner of a day for the fantastic 50th anniversary of the legendary Rotorua Marathon! And massaging our little hearts out we were! With the middle of the day temperatures quite warm and balmy, it made for a sweaty run , especially for the finishers of around the 4 to 5 hour mark and cramp was a real issue to contend with for many. Which brings me to the topic of the day: How can a Sports Massage help you with cramp? Well, the answer is a bit Yeah -Nah.
Nah: Cramp is one of those things we love to speculate about – what is the root cause of it ? Is it the long established theory of electrolyte depletion, lack of magnesium that is causing it ? Or is it the balance between sodium, potassium and magnesium that is out (think salt tablets?) ? Is it dehydration from sweating ? Or is it muscle fatigue and exhaustion ? Massage is not going to change your nutritional make up at the time of the cramp or leading up to the cramp. However from practical experience:
Yeah: Mechanically speaking cramp is the short circuiting of the nerve , resulting in involuntary painful contraction of the muscle. Massage and stretching can sometimes help to stop the short circuiting, but I find once cramping has started it is really hard to touch the person convulsing in pain, so it’s best to get them to stand up and walk it out. Alternatively a number of maneuvers of distraction reap great results, such as putting ice on the cramping muscle or massaging the antagonistic muscle really hard.
Or next time you walk past your kitchen pantry, try this : According to American cycling folklore, pickle juice is what you want to stop cramp! This off the wall theory has recently been put to the test by a group of (very brave) volunteers cycling with one leg until cramping and then trying different home remedies to stop the cramp( 3- 5 mins). Pickle juice was the clear winner and the students conducting the experiment concluded that it was not the ingestion of the sour liquid, but nerves at the back of our throat overriding the nerves in our legs, effectively stopping the cramp. Go figure!
Whatever works 🙂