Why are we cramping so much?

Submitted by M Ascending on September 18th, 2018 at 8:19 AM

It seems to me -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that our guys are cramping up at a far greater rate than in past years, and certainly more frequently than the opponents over the first three games.  Why is this happening?

Is it possibly the result of our new S&C coach's program and methods?  Having viewed the before and after photos of some our players, it's pretty clear that Herbert is focusing on the "strength" part of his responsibilities.  But, what about "conditioning"?  Is it possible that because our players are bulking up more they are more susceptible to cramping (as well as muscle strains)?  Are they being fully hydrated before and during the game?

I have no evidence for any of this, but if one is looking for an explanation for this phenomenon, the S&C program is a logical place to start.  Hopefully, once the weather cools down, this will cease to be a problem.



Clarence Boddicker

September 18th, 2018 at 12:29 PM ^

Players were cramping up all over the field in half the games I watched Saturday. FSU played Syracuse in the Carrier Dome--I know someone who was there and talked during the game on social media about how brutally hot and humid it was. FSU, which trains in freakin' Florida (fer cryin' out loud!), had dudes cramping up on damn near every play. It's the weather. Heat, humidity--AND THEY'RE WEARING THICK PLASTIC HELMETS AND OTHER SAFETY EQUIPMENT. Love the dude later on bragging about not cramping during workouts in heat. Try that with football gear on, and you're constantly stopping and starting and not moving at a constant pace.


September 18th, 2018 at 8:23 AM ^

this has been discussed ad nauseum.

against nd both teams had lots of cramps. against smu we definitely had more cramps, but they went through fall camp in dallas, so it’s safe to say they’re more acclimated to the heat. i don’t remember many cramps against western


September 18th, 2018 at 8:32 AM ^

Considering it is supposed to be perhaps not even 70 degrees at kick on Saturday, I would bet money we don't see nearly as many cramps. It has been pretty warm and rather humid a bit longer than typical this season. 


September 18th, 2018 at 8:44 AM ^

Too bad it’s been so long since M has been to Pasadena. Remember all the cramps out there? Remember Wheatley setting the rushing record while getting treated multiple times for back spasms? 

My wife, a physician, thinks more pregame prep of potassium and electrolytes would help. FWIW I have a buddy who is a long time MLB veteran and he told me that dehydration is the biggest risk every day and most of the players take significant steps to remain hydrated. 

I suppose it’s just a thing in sports and not something that is a result of the M lifting program but maybe attributable to improper pregame prep. 


September 18th, 2018 at 11:36 AM ^

100% agreed. It's a prep deal and it's something that happens all week not just at 8am Saturday. I worked fire and safety at Chicagoland, and a few of the races on blacktop it reached 110/120 degrees. With a full fire suit on, helmet etc. it gets scorching hot. Sweat rolling so hard it soaked through the fire suit. Knowing this was probable any given weekend, I consumed plenty of water all week, ran stadium stairs at the hottest point of each day in 90+ temps to acclimate, and during race events, consumed water until I had to pee, and once I stared using the bathroom at regular intervals I switched to two gatorade and one water the rest of the day. 16 hours in, I lost 15 pounds, and was able to walk back about a mile to the camp. Others who did nothing to deal with the day, needed IV therapy, slumped into an air conditioned bus, and zoned out the rest of the day. It's all how you prep.

In defense of football...we have had very high extensive humidity and heat the last few weeks off and on...only so much you can do other than have a regular and consistent hydration plan.


September 18th, 2018 at 8:47 AM ^

There's an acronym for it -- EAMC (Exercise Associated Muscle Cramps).  That according to the National Institutes of Health (link).

Interesting start to a paragraph a bit down in the article: "The clinical presentation of EAMC is easily recognized, but its cause continues to be unresolved."

This is offered: "The dehydration–electrolyte imbalance theory is the most common among health care professionals."  But then: "Overall, the dehydration–electrolyte imbalance theory has limitations" (it goes on to list some of the limitations).

In the summary: "It is likely that the cause of EAMC is multifactorial."

Conclusion: nobody knows for certain.

PS -- a hat-tip to Hotel Putingrad above ... pickle juice is referenced in that article.



September 18th, 2018 at 10:39 AM ^

Pickle juice is confirmed in the literature as a treatment and is thought to be an inhibitory reflex effect in the mouth, as digestion of the liquid volume or absorption of electrolytes takes too long to account for the effects. Further discounting the dehydration, electrolyte depletion hypotheses 


September 18th, 2018 at 8:51 AM ^

There's a video out there of Ben Herbert when he was at Arkansas talking about his focus on nutrition, hydration, and proper fuel for workouts. It's a really interesting watch if you've got 45 minutes to kill. I do not think he's the sort of guy who fails to take hydration seriously. This is a product of it being quite a bit warmer this year than in years previous.



September 19th, 2018 at 6:24 PM ^

having coached, and currently directing S and C for a volleyball program...it's one thing to preach it, another to hold their hand through it...and yet another to have 100% buy in. Some kids are 'smarter' than you. When you advise them to consume 120 oz of water over a 24 hour period, avoid sodas, and especially diuretic alcohol...some won't, some don't even try. So, it happens. Not blaming any player, just pointing out, coaches can do everything possible.


September 18th, 2018 at 8:51 AM ^

It's early in the season; playing a full game at full speed is different than practice/workouts. It'll take time to adjust. 

I was thinking I was noticing a lot of cramping this year, but it's a problem in just about every game I've watched. I noticed a bunch during TCU/OSU, MSU/ASU, NE/CO... Not just us. 


September 18th, 2018 at 9:30 AM ^

I noticed the same thing as well.   All of the OSU players were cramping against TCU and the TCU players seemed to be fine as they were used to the heat.  (Not sure why it was so hot in a dome.  All of those personal TVs in JerryWorld have to generate a lot of heat.)   Couple of the pro games I watched had people cramping as well.

Told my father-in-law that it was going to be funny that we all die from climate change, not because of the flooding, but because we're all cramped up and can't do anything.  

Matte Kudasai

September 18th, 2018 at 8:53 AM ^

You do bring up an interesting point.

In a day and age where speed and flexibility are coveted on the OL, we still seem to be more interested in road graders.  I think Frey was trying to change this mentality, and rightfully so.  Look at our best OL and co-captain Ben Bredeson.  He put on 30lbs of muscle, but you can't convince me he wouldn't be a better player at a lighter weight with better mobility.