Tag Archives: muscle

Muscle Cramps: Why?!

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Muscle cramps may be near the top of my list as far as my least favorite things my body does to me. They are awful, and pretty unavoidable as far as I’m concerned. I have some muscles that tend to cramp up on the regular. When I stretch my arms above my head, my neck usually cramps up for a few seconds, though sometimes longer. There’s not really much for me to do about it except wait for the pain to work itself out. Not fun. So what causes these pains?

Muscle cramps are involuntary and forcibly contracted muscles that don’t relax. Typically the muscle is fatigued, contracts and becomes hard and is unable to relax itself due to the fatigue. The neurons that send signals between the brain and the muscle continue to send a contraction message instead of a relaxation message The result is usually pretty bad pain, depending on what muscle is experiencing the cramp. Muscle cramps can be caused by a number of different things, including poor blood circulation, overexertion, muscle fatigue, and malfunctioning nerves just to name a few. Muscle cramps can also be brought on by a number of medications. Muscle cramps are most common after exercise, but can be experienced at any time. Once a muscle cramps, it is easy for it to cramp again, because the muscle is still fatigued.
The best method of working out cramps are to stretch out the muscle and try and force it to relax itself. This breaks the chain of neurons sending the contraction signal to the brain, and allows the muscle to relax. 
What’s your best way of getting rid of painful muscle cramps?

MMMMMmuscles (get it?)

Do you exercise? Well, it’s time to milk it up. Drinking milk after workout, even chocolate milk can alter protein metabolism for the better. This means more muscle will be produced, since post exercise consumption is nearly as important as the exercise itself.

 

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Muscle growth can only occur if muscle protein synthesis is greater than muscle protein breakdown. This means any food post exercise- about a 24 to 48 hour window, will have an effect on the increase of muscle size. Amino acid availability is key in regulating this, and it is found in milk.

 

Studies discussed in Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2008, 5:15 show that consuming bovine based milk (bovine is a protein based hormone produced in the pituitary gland of cattle) after performing leg resistance exercises showed a significant increase in the people’s amino acid balance. In comparison to soymilk, bovine-based milk’s amino acids deliver amino acids to the body in a much slower, more sustainable fashion- that means longer muscle protein synthesis.

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This source also discusses a long-term test of athlete post consumption of milk verse the average carbohydrate and electrolyte based sports drink. The two different beverages contain equal amounts of energy, but different nutrients. Each group of people in the test had similar results in greater strength, however a stronger trend was noted in the milk group. This was that milk drinkers had a larger increase in fat free soft tissue mass. This is an arousing study, but it was only done for 10 weeks. If they really wanted to see where milk affected the body, I think that they should carry out the study for a greater period. Is ay this because of things such as the anti heart fluttering medication, or whether to switch doors or not trick we discussed in class- you need a rather large amount of data to clearly see trends.

 

Another group referred to as “Hartman et al.” performed a test on novice weight lifters, for 12 weeks, slightly longer than the prior study. Researchers gave randomly allocated lifters either 500mL of fat free milk, soymilk, or the typical sports drink one hour after exercise. They all performed the same exercise routine, but the milk group did have the greatest increase in muscle growth, muscle fiber areas, and lean body mass. The group also had the greatest decrease in fat mass. Scientists attribute the increase of the study to milk’s effect on protein metabolism. They attribute the decrease to the calcium milk provides. It is hypothesized that calcium reduces the force and amplitude of fat gain.

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This is enough data to make me reconsider my post workout diet. Is it enough for you? Have the studies been conducted for enough time to gather sufficient information to reach a conclusion, or is this still a theory?

Sources:

http://www.biotech.iastate.edu/biotech_info_series/Bovine_Somatotropin.html

http://www.jissn.com/content/5/1/15

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11255140

Images:

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MUSCLES!!!

Obsessed with getting huge? A lot of people are, especially in our age group.. and I’m not saying I’m not part of that group, however I’m starting to look into the negative aspects of this obsession. Frequently, mostly males of our age group, take supplements that claim to have extreme results, take a few pills and make a few mixed drinks and one week later your as big as this guy and no, it isn’t photoshopped. This guy is Ronnie Coleman, he was Mr. Olympian and uses steroids, but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that this guy is amazing.

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            My problem with this though, is that science in this case could be killing people, just like we talked about in the past. There are a few supplements that people can take, with relative safety and get positive results. Those supplements are creatine and protein (specifically whey). But some people go on supplement overload– they take nitric oxide and any other GNC brand and stuff their bodies full with it without considering the consequences. A lot of people think since its not steroids it couldn’t be bad for you, but clearly thats not right.

            A lot of kids read what is on the label, which mostly consists of all capital letters saying HUGE MUSCLES, FAST, RESULTS, GET RIPPED, which of course everyone follows. The problem with this though, is that there is no science backing up the big claims. The FDA does not approve any of the products listed, which isn’t a good sign, so the only faith you have in Jack3d or N0 EXPLODE or 1MR, is the review that some bodybuilder was paid to write. There are no good studies done on the products. The companies themselves do the majority of the studies, and they are not performed well. So these college kids pump their bodies full with chemicals like Riboflavin, Niacin, Thiamin, and Pantothenic acid hoping to get huge muscles at their next work out and it may help, but what happens years from now? When your liver really couldn’t process all of those chemicals.. Do I really need 3,333% of my daily value of Thiamin? Probably not… but according to this box it says ill get huge muscles!! 

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I think this case really shows the importance of science, and that not enough quality science is being done here.

A Real Pain in the Butt

We’ve all done a workout at least once in our lives so I know everyone has gone through this. Maybe it’s your arms, legs, butt, or abs that feel like they’re going to tear apart a day or two after a vigorous workout. We know the cause, but what’s really going on with our muscles and how can we prevent it from happening when we try to stay in shape?

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I’m currently taking Kines and  that class is literally kicking my butt. I have it three days a week and I’m usually sore a day or two afterwards. The pain is bearable, but I could do without it. I wanted to know how my muscles were being effected and what change, if any, they were undergoing. I stumbled upon an article that laid everything out for me and it’s pretty straight forward.
The soreness in your muscles is called “Delayed Onset MuscleSoreness, or DOMS.” This is caused by tears that occur in the muscle as a result of what ever physical activity you were doing. When you’re at rest, the muscle rebuilds itself and the new fibers are bigger and stronger than what was broken down. Your body has to get used to the activity that you’re doing before the soreness will stop coming back. The more intense your next workout is, the more likely you are to get sore. The intensity level is basically a shock to your muscles and they have to get used to it. 
There’s no way to stop that soreness we feel after going hard at the gym, but applying some icy hot can help or massaging the sore areas. I guess it’s true what they say; no pain no gain.

Getting older and losing muscle

                As an avid weight-lifter, I am always looking to improve my workouts and build more muscle. Recently, I was flipping through a Men’s Fitness magazine and saw an ad that promoted a product that was meant to build muscle. This seems common for a fitness magazine, but this ad targeted older men in particular. It was a product that was supposed to slow down muscle loss. This got me thinking. What age do we begin to lose muscle and why?

                Muscle loss is known as sarcopenia. This is a very common and natural process that occurs to the human body. It has been found that about thirty-five to forty percent of muscle loss occurs between the ages of 20 and 80. When I saw this I was shocked that sarcopenia could possibly start at such a young age of 20. However, many scientists would agree that the overall average age for when one would lose the most muscle is after the age of 50. Even so, that is still fairly young. There are many extremely active 50 year olds out there.

                So how do we go about preventing muscle loss? Actually, it’s not really about prevention. It’s more along the line of delaying. Those people who live a more active lifestyle tend to lose muscle at a much slower rate than that of a person leading a non-active lifestyle. Staying active is an important way to delay muscle loss. muscle loss blog.jpg

                As we age, we lose muscle over time because our body’s ability to produce newer muscle proteins decreases. We can’t put an exact time or age on when each person will lose begin losing muscle, but we do know that both men and women lose the same percentage as they begin to get older. This is why it’s important to stay active. There are also many other ways to delay muscle loss.

Drip Drip Drop

 

My feet hurt.  I don’t want to move. However, the time between me comfortably reclining on many plush pillows and having to get up to make the dreaded walk to class is quickly dissolving.  Why do my legs hurt so badly today? I walk every other day and usually don’t have these sorts of knee and ankle pains.  Why am I feeling so tired and unable to function? This is really not cool.

Turns out, like many of you experiencing the same fatigue and soreness, the cause is simply dehydration.  Practically all body functions are associated with fluid balance. When these fluid balances are not in check, it means our hearts are working harder to give our skin and muscles the oxygen and nutrients they need to have us all functioning at our best- something I find rare at college classes.  I don’t know about you guys, but in class after a long night (who sleeps here?)  I’ve been increasingly finding myself tired, unable to concentrate, and sometimes stricken with headaches, light headedness, and muscle soreness.  These are all common symptoms of dehydration- and they happen because of the fact that our bodies must redirect our blood away from the skin and towards our working muscles. This means our bodies cannot diffuse heat as efficiently as it should. This makes our body temperatures rise, which results in all of the unpleasant symptoms previously listed. Of these, muscle and joint soreness arises from the cartilage protecting our joints suffering more friction from not being at its proper fluid level. That’s why my knees and ankles hurt so badly.

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If you feel any of these things like me, or find that you cant quite remember something you were just told 10 minutes ago also like me, you should go drink some water. Staying properly hydrated will make you more attentive and perceptive in class, something we all could use a little extra help at. Not to mention, with everyone all of a sudden coughing up a storm every lecture, water is what allows our bodies to flush out toxins.  With out it, the body may produce an overload of histamine, which then in turn interferes with the body’s resistance to infections.

            Even more than allowing better attention and health, water will keep you looking fine. Not being hydrated may cause breakouts and dry skin. Our skin requires nutrients and hydration just like every other organ in our bodies (yes skin is an organ). Water will allow your skin to reach its maximum health and beauty potentials.

            If nothing else convinced you yet, this probably will: Water will help reduce your risk of the odious ‘freshman 15’. Dehydration is a huge culprit in causing innocent people with gluttonous cravings. What you think is a craving for food, caffeine, sugar, or what has you is really a craving to quench your body’s thirst.  The more you drink water, the fewer cravings one will have. This is due to the fact that water helps you from feeling hungry. If you drink the proper amount of water (about 4 pints daily) you’ll be able to understand the difference between real hunger and simple thirst.

            If any of us want to survive here, looks like we better start drinking.

 image sourcehttp://www.ihaveosteoarthritis.com/resources/KNEE%20Osteoarthritis.jpg?timestamp=1242819426312