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[pct-l] Cramps

After suffering for many years with leg cramps after a hard workout, or just 
working out after a spelling of not working out, I have tried many remedies! 
While hiking the PCT in '97, part of my problem stemmed from the fact that 
my feet were in such bad condition from blisters I acquired during most of 
our hike that I was walking differently to compensate for the pain from the 
blisters.  I was using my muscles in an abnormal way, causing them great 
stress.  Part of the problem also stemmed from the fact that we hiked 
anywhere from 10-12 hours a day -- the flow of blood surging down and then 
up again in my leg muscles caused my muscles to spasm with the extra gorging 
of blood still flowing through them when I was not hiking.  It wasn't until 
I got off the trail in '97 that a sports medicine physician informed me of 
these possibilities.  And yes, I believe I was taking plenty of Calcium -- 
Caltrate 500 +D for absorption.  I was also taking magnesium and drinking 
plenty of powdered milk (not the fat free kind either!) two and three times 
a day with meals.  I was also eating lots of ice cream, cheese, yogurt, etc 
in towns -- Walt said most of my food fantasies when on the trail were 
calcium related.  He was fantasizing for pizza, salads, fruit and nuts.   

This year I added glucosamine sulfate for my joints to my medicine bag.  I 
believe it did help relieve some of the pain that I had previously 
experienced at night and upon getting up in the mornings.  I wasn't as stiff 
and sore.  Like Joanne, there were times when my hands cramped, but this 
happened mostly when I was cold or cold and wet!  My feet would also cramp 
from the cold  -- my blood vessels had constricted and my muscled were not 
as flexible and did not let the blood flow to heat them up.  As soon as my 
hands and feet warmed up again and I had walked for 20 minutes or so I was 
fine.  Walt would heat water and put it in a water bottle for me to hold or 
put between my feet on at night.  I also found out that warming my inner 
core with hot soup, milk, jello, pudding, etc. at night helped to aleviate 
some of my problems.  As my weight dropped, I got colder and I had to be 
even more careful not to get too cold and to take proper precautions about 
going to bed with a hot meal.

Each of us is different and what causes cramps for one might not be what 
causes cramps for another -- the solutions works the same way.  It is 
important to know what is causing the cramps and then go from there. For me 
it was trial and error for awhile.   This year I was prepared with lots of 
meds and fortunately had cramps on only a few occassions. I didn't have bad 
blisters this year either!

I forgot to mention in my earlier post, that when I got bit near the San 
Gorgonio Pass by what the Emergency Physician at Lake Arrowhead thought was 
probably a Grey Recluse Spider, I wasn't carrying anything in my medicine 
bag that would have helped me.  A strong wide spectrum antibiotic was needed 
to keep my muscles and other tissues from disintegrating.  Luckily, we were 
able to get off the trail and get help.  Catching a problem early can make a 
great deal of difference in the outcome.  If I had been in the High 
Sierrias, well, I'm just thankful that I wasn't!

Congratulations Steve, Lindy and Kevin on the completion of your '99 Thru 
Hike -- what a great achievement. If you would like to read Steve's Journal, 
go to the PCTA website and then link to Steve Fonesca's Journal.  He give a 
wonderful and interesting accounting of his hike!  It was great meeting 
Steve and sharing the trail with him for a few days! 

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