Thursday was a loooong day on the tennis court and resulted in full lower body muscle cramping for several hours. What to do?
Matt Davie and I played our final round robin match vs. the tough team of Don McGoldrick (NY) and Bob McAfee (MA)… and it was a “barn burner”! They won the first set 6-4 and they were up a break and serving at 2-0, game point, when Matt and I came alive.
We broke and won SIX games in a row to level the match and bring it to the deciding 10-pointer. They took the lead and had three match points, serving at 9-6. Somehow, we made it 9-7, 9-8, 9-9 and then I served for the match at 10-9. Game, set, match for us … in just over two hours.
We finished our match just before 2 p.m. and were due back on the court for a tough semi-final match vs. #2 seeded Fred Drilling and long-time partner Clive Kileef at 2:30 p.m. So, I changed my clothes and downed a banana.
It turned out that wasn’t enough for what was ahead. Matt and I went up a first-set break, with Clive serving at 2-4; and we had two break chances to go up a commanding 5-2. We didn’t convert and they ended up running four straight games for a 6-4 first set.
The second set, Matt and I again game back to take it 6-2 … but I warned Matt that I was really tiring. I had no gas left in my tank and they cruised to a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 victory.
That match was about 2 ½ long; so having played over three tough hours on Wednesday, we had just short of another five hours on the court Thursday. I crawled up the hill to the scoring table and sat down.
Then it started … I couldn’t stop sweating and felt like I would black out. All the guys around were very concerned and very helpful… giving me water, salt pills, and a food bar. Matt volunteered to drive me home; and on the way there, the muscle cramps started.
I have had them before, but this was the worst ever… and my whole lower body cramped for a solid two hours. I drank pickle juice, took electrolyte pills and went into my whirl pool. Finally, at 3 am the cramps had subsided. And this morning (altho I am now SEVEN pounds lighter than yesterday) I feel OK – and glad we don’t have another match today.
Any good suggestions (other than “don’t play so much”)?
Know someone who should read this? Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com
14 thoughts on “More Pickle Juice!”
January 12, 2018 at 9:12 am Edit
This is a strong reason the format is too much tennis per day. The older we get the more we can be affected, and you are in better shape than most.
Phil, true on all counts. thanks, george
January 12, 2018 at 9:13 am Edit
Take pickle juice to the court.
No beer – only pickle juice.
And, when you go dancin’, put a nickle in the Pickleodian, not the Nickelodian!
That’s the only way to avoid being in such a PICKLE!
Glad you’re OK! Great playing!
Nick, saw your NH picture this morning!! come on down south. george
January 12, 2018 at 9:15 am Edit
I take magnesium daily to thwart off potential leg cramps. Usually get them in my calf at night and have been getting them less frequently. Also, google soap leg cramps.
Ken, tks. george
January 12, 2018 at 9:23 am Edit
My suggestion is to take the Electrolyte pills BEFORE you need them, and drink an Electrolyte drink during the match. Also, don’t sit down. (Seems like when I cramp it’s usually when I’m resting.)
Terry, yes, i should have taken the pills before the match. And i never sit during a match. thanks, george
January 12, 2018 at 9:29 am Edit
For my night-time leg cramps, I stretch my legs every night just before going to bed….helps a lot. I don’t cramp at night any longer.
Also, I take two potassium pills every day……don’t know if this helps, but it can’t hurt!
John, ironically, my Doc told me my potassium level is TOO HIGH and i should cut back on bananas!! george
January 12, 2018 at 9:48 am Edit
Pickle juice never worked for me but I do take the magnesium at night and alpha lopoic acid in the a.m.
During the matches I also take Bloks by Cliff Bars. They are like a gummy bear but replace electrolytes and can get them with caffeine or without, they don’t have a lot of sodium. They give you a little quick energy when you need it on the court. A lot of my tennis and golf friends are now using them. Cramps are awful. Feel Better.
barbara. thanks, i will check Bloks out. george
January 12, 2018 at 10:06 am Edit
If it’s more than one body part (calf only, quad only, etc) than you usually need more than pickle juice. You were smart to also take a lot electrolytes. Sounds like you were also severely dehydrated – you should never lose 7 pounds that quickly! And you may have also needed glucose.
The one thing people fail to think about many times is that the heart is a muscle, too. When it cramps, things go south very quickly. Think about that. Cramps that involve multiple body parts for multiple hours need to be taken very seriously.
Best be very careful over the next few days and weeks. Get a good electrolyte combo that you take every day, no matter whether you play or not. Rest, drink lots, and be nice to yourself.
Seems like the guys enjoyed this format! I hope they are giving some good feedback.
Joann (Princess of Quite a Lot), great advice and a warning i shall heed! thanks, george
January 12, 2018 at 10:26 am Edit
Having experienced the same, drink pickle juice after your first match, get in system. Then have some as you play second match.
January 12, 2018 at 10:37 am Edit
I played the singles at the Quail Ridge event this week. Prior to my second match I drank a gallon of water. I had a 4 hour match against the #2 seed in very humid conditions. Throughout I drank water mixed with power aid and coconut water. Early in the third set I got a cramp in my calf. On the changeover I took Cramps Away and within minutes the cramp was gone and never returned. Later in the third set my opponent twice took a break for cramping while I was serving. I let him take the breaks, though found out later he should have been defaulted if he could not continue with a non injury break. That night I drank plenty of water and gator aid and was fine the next day for a 2.5 hour semi. Years ago I would suffer with cramps before I learned how to prepare.
Doug. A four hour singles match?!?! I will look for Cramps Away. Where do you get it? George
January 12, 2018 at 11:00 am
Yinz should be drinking Heinz pickle juice. Go Stillers!
January 12, 2018 at 11:10 am Edit
Hi George, Tums work for me. Sometimes a struggle to get to the bathroom for the tablets so I keep them in my night stand.
Dave. Thanks. George
January 12, 2018 at 12:03 pm Edit
Recent research shows that Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar helps. It is probably the ingredient in pickle juice that causes it to be effective. You get the help without the pickles. I have used it and found it to be excellent. I put a couple of tablespoons in my water bottle. I have a friend who’s getting night cramps and they were alleviated by using this product.
Bill. Thanks. I will try it. George
January 12, 2018 at 1:05 pm Edit
I agree with most of the comments made so far.
When you lose seven pounds in a day, it is mainly water weight that is being lost. It is essential to replace water at a rate that equals the loss. Even if one does not feel thirst, it is still necessary to drink large quantities of water at each changeover.
Cramping occurs due to electrolyte deficiency. It is predominantly the potassium, sodium and magnesium loss that results in cramping, therefore, it is important to drink one of the many electrolyte replacement beverages prior to, during, and after intense exercise, but be sure to make water the main replacement liquid.
Dehydration and cramping may be more common in seniors, but it is by no means limited to them. I have seen young tennis pros cramp and vomit in prolonged matches, particularly in the heat.
We all have to learn to pace ourselves as we age. Five hours of tennis on a hot and humid day is more than we should ask of our bodies.
That said – do as I say, not as I do.
michael, words of medical wisdom! thanks, george
January 12, 2018 at 11:29 pm Edit
Can’t find any reference about cardiac muscle cramping, though coronary artery spasm is a “thing” – unrelated to skeletal muscle cramping. Have only ever read that skeletal muscle cramping is “benign” – it only hurts like hell.
Have been a long time cramper and heavy sweater. Tried all the above remedies (other than that “Cramps Away” stuff). Nothing helped – other than the two bags of salt water they dripped into me once in an emergency room. Had actually purchased an 18 cent bottle of white vinegar and swallowed a big gulp of it earlier that day. No help, but my throat hurt for a week. 🙂
I don’t even remember how I learnt of it, but, like Dave, Tums works for me. It actually *stops* the cramping after it has started. It works *so* fast that it makes me wonder how much of a “psychic” component is involved. There *might* be a little magnesium in them to go with the calcium. May have to chew them every few hours through the night if playing more than one event at a tournament. No idea why some things work for some of us and not for others.
Your cramping starting in the car reminded me that I’ve unable to both get *out* of the car and, on another occasion, get *in* the car. Full body cramping is not fun.
Kevin, i think i will try the apple cider vinegar and carry some Tums in my tennis bag from now on! thanks, George
is a tournament-level, senior tennis player who lives and plays his tennis most of the year in Naples FL and the summer months on Lake Sunapee, NH. A professional writer who owned and ran a direct marketing company for 30 years, George writes the popular tennis web site SeniorTennisAndFitness.com and authored the book "Senior Tennis."