3 biggest tips to prevent cramping on the Football field:
Why is it that after the extensive pre-season you have done and all the physical preparation is continued to a high standard, that you are constantly still cramping? 2 months into the season, the bodies are constantly getting sorer, the grounds coming into winter are getting softer and therefore greater effort is required to push off the ground.
I’ve had several people ask me what is the ideal preparation for nutrition and hydration leading up to a big match. Recently, I had a current VFL player so frustrated with cramping every week that he gave me a call to see what I thought he could change. The first thing I told him to do was to immediately stop drinking water the day before the game. ‘WHAT? That is insane he said.’
1. Remove water: Go for Hydralyte!!!
Consume sports drink and electrolyte filled drinks. I preferably have always advised hydralyte due to lower calories and higher electrolytes including: magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc and iron (effectvie for cross-bridge coupling during muscle contractions for those interested) Ignore the power of marketing and look at what is best for your body.
Why do you think Doctors advise Hydralyte when people are sick? Hypotonic solutions (Hydralyte) are considered most effective for rapid rehydration and prevention of dehydration. Isotonic solutions (like Powerade) have the same osmolality as blood so the net effect of absorption at a cellular level is zero i.e. only passive diffusion can take place!!!!
Water is completely neutral. Water although hydrating the fluid component can dilute the muscle and remove salts and electrolytes.
Ensure that you obtain your hydralyte the day before match day and also leading up to the match. It is ok to sip on water but ensure that sports drink is being consumed as a priority.
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2. Nutrition preparation:
At the elite level AFL midfield a are covering up to 20km over 3 hours. Local footballers would constitute 12-15KM on average.
Pre game (Low GI):
This is usually 1-4 hours prior to competition:
– 200 – 300g CHO ,
– Low fat
– Low fibre
– Low-moderate protein.
60 minutes prior to competition (High GI)
– Sports drink
– Muesli / energy bar
During game: (High GI)
– 30 to 60 g of CHO per hour of exercise
– Sports gels (consume with water)
– Sports drinks – fluid plus energy
– Replenish muscle & liver glycogen stores
– Repair, regeneration & adaptation of muscle
– Replacement of fluid & electrolytes
– 24 hrs required for glycogen repletion
– consume 500 – 700 g CHO (this is dependent on bodyweight)
– 24 – 48 hrs for glycogen super-compensation
– 8 to 12 g CHO per kg body mass
Hopefully you aren’t in this category but quite simply a lot of people don’t cope with the significantly added volume that occurs during a football match due to ill preparation or maintenance. Which is why it isn’t the smartest thing to ‘smash’ football players/ athletes in the first week or two of training – this leads athletes susceptible to injury.
The game is so underrated for the physical toll it has, particularly on lower limbs: calves, hamstrings and quads: where cramping is most common.
Increase your loading on your lower body training session, increase your cardio-respiratory functioning and overall prepare your boy for the endurance field it will be simulating on Saturday.
It isn’t too late to start this NOW.
1. Beetroot juice.
2. Pickle juice.
3. Salt tablets (during the game and at onset of cramping feeling)
4. Pink Himalayan rock salt (1 teaspoon in glass of water) as frequently as possible
5. Chew your water, drink your food.
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