Magnesium: muscular contractions could not consistently occur without magnesium’s presence.
Good dietary sources of magnesium include nuts (especially almonds), whole grains, wheat germ, fish, and green leafy vegetables. As with most nutrients, daily needs for magnesium cannot be met from food alone which is why magnesium dietary supplements are recommended as well.
Unfortunately, magnesium (Mg2+) is often overlooked, yet plays a critical role for extended bouts of muscular contractions and cramp prevention – just as much as the other three. Most people do not realize that magnesium plays an important role in Ca2+ and oxygen (O2) transport throughout the cells of the human body. In fact, more than 300 nerve impulses and enzymatic reactions require magnesium as a co-factor. Besides Ca2+ and O2 transport, magnesium can directly affect sodium and potassium inter-cellular transport throughout cells as well. Longer and more intense exercise can deplete magnesium levels. Mg+ is excreted primarily through sweat and urine, therefore, cold fluids (empty out of the gut faster) are the preferred choice for replenishment during exercise. Regardless of the type of sport or exercise, muscular contractions could not consistently occur without magnesium’s presence. Through aerobic and anaerobic metabolism – glycolysis occurs, in short, oxygen is delivered and utilized via magnesium. Therefore, O2 delivery to working musculature and energy production in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) (the source for all energy production) would not happen without magnesium presence. Magnesium is found in unrefined whole grain breads and cereals, as well as green leafy vegetables, lentils, peas, beans, nuts, and seeds. Meat, fish, fruit, dairy products, and processed foods are poor sources for magnesium. Magnesium imbalances may often be caused by things such as diuretics (e.g. caffeine), alcohol consumption, sweat loss, and both high intensity and endurance (or extended periods of) exercise.
For athletes, especially those training and racing in endurance sports, magnesium deficiency indicators may be one or more of the following:
• abnormal muscular weakness
• muscular cramping and “locking”
• muscular spasms
• impaired glucose breakdown (for ATP/energy production)
• inability to sustain exercise intensity for extended periods
• irregular heartbeat (e.g. elevated performance heart rate)
• disorientation and confusion
Conversely, excess magnesium is filtered by the kidneys; however, if overly excessive, kidney function is adversely affected. When this occurs, just as with deficiency, side effects may surface in the form of muscular spasms, and as I call it, muscular “locking”. Through proper monitoring, athletes can often supplement with 300-500 milligrams (mg) per day without contraindications. Female athletes should supplement at the lower end of this range, and don’t normally require any dosage above 300-350 mg. If O2 uptake increases are a result, no matter how minor, could (for example) improve a cyclists sustained power output. At ~5,500 revolutions per hour, such impacts may facilitate improved performances over normal homeostatic processes. In summary, if you’re an endurance athlete or you exercise for either long periods or extremely high intensity, look for beverages that not only have calcium, potassium, and sodium, but ones with magnesium as well. If you’re cramping during longer training sessions or races, and have ensured that the other three are being replenished, then there’s a good chance what you’re experiencing is attributable to low magnesium level
Common Running Injury – Plantar Fasciitis:
Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammatory condition of the foot caused by excessive wear to the plantar fascia – the thick connective tissue which supports the arch of the foot, and usually caused by a sudden significant increase in running mileage, running in old and/or unsupportive shoes, or by biomechanical flaws that cause excessive pronation (foot rolls excessively inward). The pain is normally felt on the underside of the heel, and is often most intense upon getting up in the morning. This condition can also be caused by long periods of weight bearing or sudden changes in weight bearing activity, sudden weight gain, obesity, jobs that require a significant amount of walking on hard surfaces, shoes with little or no arch support, and even long-term inactivity.
Common Treatment Protocols for Plantar Fasciitis.
Many different treatments have been effective; however, plantar fasciitis left untreated may last up to a year or longer, so don’t ignore it or pretend it’s not there. Initial treatment includes stretching of the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia, keeping off the foot as much as possible, weight loss, arch support and heel lifts, ice “rolling” therapy (which I’ll describe below), and taping. Difficult cases may be referred for Physiotherapy. Common physiotherapies include myofascial release, “breaking up” the scar tissue of the plantar fascia, and supervised stretching. Extra attention should focus on ensuring that shoes with adequate support and stability are worn – at all times. Avoid open-back shoes, sandals, “flip-flops,” any shoes without some (raised) heel, as well as high heel shoes such as stilettos. To relieve pain and inflammation, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen may be taken; however, the benefits are very limited, basically just “mask” the problem temporarily, and can cause further damage due to inattentiveness or early resumption of training. Eliminate or reduce activities which place more pressure on the balls of the feet because of the added pressure placed on the plantar fascia. Although this may seem counter-intuitive because the pain is normally within the heel area, the heel is sensitive to almost any pressure, therefore, this causes some people start walking on the balls of their feet and increasing tension on the fascia.
Local injections of corticosteroids may provide temporary or even (in milder cases) permanent relief. These injections are often quite painful, especially if a local anesthetic is not used. Injections are often more effective when ultrasound therapy is also utilized simultaneously. However, problems of actual ruptures within the fascia have been reported in some cases of repeated steroid injections, potentially causing long-term or even permanent damage to the plantar fascia. Therefore, individual foot anatomy, total health history of the feet, and short vs. long-term benefits should be scrutinized before repetitive injection therapy is considered.
In cases of chronic plantar fasciitis of 10 months or longer, success with stretch therapy have been fairly common. Early morning pain can be reduced significantly by stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon before getting out of bed. Night splints can be used to keep the foot in a dorsi-flexed (toes pointing upward (towards the shin)) during sleep to increase calf muscle flexibility and (in most cases) decrease morning pain.
Another useful method I always prescribe is to roll a frozen bottle of water under the foot – in a back-and-forth motion. This stretches and ice massages the fascia simultaneously.
Regardless of the severity of this condition, once you realize or have been diagnosed with it, I cannot overemphasize the importance of taking time off from running, plyometric, or any other root causes, be patient, and “let it go”. If you have races or events on the near or short-term calendar, let them go. Otherwise, instead of being down for 2-3 weeks, the outcome is normally 6-12 months – your choice!