Managing Muscle Pain through Nutrition

Posted by Lisa Winther on 10.03.17

It is very likely that most of us in these days will have a muscle pain of some form or another. Whether, it's from over-training or just starting out etc, they can be a source of disturbance and more importantly, a source of pain and discomfort. However, nutrition can help you lessen the presence of such annoyances in your life, and we'll start by focusing on two specific problems - muscle fatigue and muscle cramps. Muscle Fatigue You're in the middle of a spin class and your heart is going strong, but much to your frustration, your legs just don't seem to want to keep up.

Muscle fatigue occurs when we've either overworked our muscles and neglected to give them adequate recovery time, or when we simply haven't fuelled them with the proper nutrients for optimal performance. Glycogen is the name given to the stores of carbohydrates found in our muscles, some crepe erase. When our bodies can't keep up with adequate ATP production during higher intensity exercise, or under extreme cold or heat conditions, these glycogen stores are drawn from to create extra ATP through glycolysis.

Glycolysis, for those who don't know, "is the process through which a high volume of ATP can be produced through the breakdown of glycogen to glucose."(Benardot) If we don't take the time to replenish these stores of glycogen after a workout (much like a savings account), the next time we need them to bail us out of a tough situation there'll be little, if any, to draw from. So what can we do to ensure this account gets replenished after a withdrawal? Eat a high carbohydrate meal roughly 90 minutes before your workout. This will ensure blood glucose levels are adequate for your workout.

Eating too soon before a workout, you risk a) not having enough energy and b) tasting your food for a second time.Make sure to refuel after a workout. There's a window of time (approximately two hours) within which your body can most effectively replenish the stores of glycogen. This is due to the elevated level of the enzyme glycogen synthetase, which is a result of your body becoming depleted in glycogen. By providing your body with glucose or sucrose while these levels are high, it's more efficiently able to replace your glycogen stores.

Carbohydrates are your best bet, making sure you steer clear of anything refined and processed. However, getting some form of protein in there is also necessary, as long intense exercise not only depletes glycogen stores but can also lead to protein degradation. Great options include: Bananas and oranges All-natural nut and grain bars Smoothies made with rice or nut milk, fruit and also a whey-protein isolate powder Non-commercial whole grain bread with raw almond butter Brown rice, salmon and steamed greens What you eat will obviously depend on what time of day it is. But what's most important is actually following through with it. Muscle Cramps Ever been woken up in the middle of the night feeling as though someone is literally ripping your calf muscle out? Or perhaps you've been out on a hot run when all of sudden your hamstring feels like someone is using it as a bow. Muscle cramps are quite literally a huge pain for elite athletes and the average Joe alike.

Typically occurring in the muscles we use the most, in many cases they're brought on by electrolyte imbalances, dehydration and hypoglycemia. Sodium and Potassium are the two electrolytes commonly found in sports drinks, and they're both essential for muscle contraction, and are lost in large quantities in our sweat. Calcium and Magnesium Are two other minerals linked to muscle cramps. Calcium is involved in the regulation of muscle contraction, whereas magnesium acts to relax the muscles. When both are low, the nerve endings and the muscles they stimulate are more easily excitable.