I have been in Triathlon long enough to see some of the long time athletes succumb to chronic muscle tension that won't go away. They finally give up running and become an extra in a team and finally slip back into the routine of their old lives assuming that maybe they weren't built for the sport. This unfortunately is becoming something I see more of .
When I take on an athlete I usually have a conversation about nutrition and supplements. My main concern for those coming into my bootcamp or going on a program is do you take a regular supplement that contains Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Gluconate. I usually get the response yes there is Magnesium in my supplement. Unfortunately the Magnesium found in their supplement is Magnesium Oxide a poorly absorbed form of Magnesium and the most common version of Magnesium found in regular supplements. Calcium and Magnesium work together to deal with muscle contraction (Calcium) and muscle relaxation (Magnesium). They also work together to form bone, this is a simple explanation as many other electrolytes come into play, but for now my discussion is about Magnesium.
Calcium is usually the most supplemented form of mineral due to the well publicized view of deficiencies of Calcium being responsible for Osteoporosis. So many foods boast their Calcium content and even go as far as adding extra Calcium, it is good for business. Calcium and Magnesium work together to form bone. Pretty much 2 parts of Calcium to one part Magnesium. That is why supplementation is usually 2 parts Calcium to one part Magnesium. The problem is that being deficient in Magnesium even a little prevents your bones from forming correctly and prevents binding of Calcium as well. So a smaller deficiency of Magnesium can cause a larger amount of bone loss. Factor in that Calcium is heavily supplemented and Magnesium is getting to be harder to get in naturally grown foods due to poor soil conditions. Add to that your body loses Magnesium when you sweat, but not so for Calcium. Hopefully at this point you are starting to realize the chances of Magnesium deficiency are higher than Calcium deficiency.
Think of muscle spasms, most of us get cramping now and then, especially at the pool, too many big push off's from the pool edge after a run can really get the feet and calves cramping. How about that knot you get in your shoulder or lower back that sidelines training, your calf cramp that won't release, your tendonitis that seems to be ready for you more often than you like. You are starting to see the real effects of Magnesium deficiency. Chronic muscular tension and frozen shoulder is where I began my education on Magnesium. I also learned most medications rid your body of this valuable mineral, I had been on anti-biotics and started to suffer tendon ruptures and frozen shoulder. It was all interrelated. I was afraid my Triathlon future was not that long ahead of me. The frozen shoulder was calcium that had deposited due to the lack of Magnesium to bind with it to put it back in the bones. When I started supplementing with Magnesium and going to my favorite chiropractor for Graston Technique to break up the calcium scar tissue, that the healing began. I supplemented with Magnesium Citrate with Malate as the first option. There are topical Magnesium applications as well as Epsom salts (Magnesium) that absorb through the skin.
Other reasons for endurance athletes to pay attention to Magnesium is that it is essential for the formation of ATP, our fuel for racing and training all hinges on having our body in balance. Keep your electrolytes up, do daily supplementation and make sure your supplement has Magnesium Citrate or Magnesium Gluconate, I have purchased these as stand alones and added them to my mineral supplements to ensure I get enough. I make sure all my athletes are taking their Multi-Minerals and I would suggest that before you take up chronic overuse of your body you look into how to maintain balance with nutrition and exercise so that you can continue your journey for years, without being sidelined with that chronic injury.
I have added a link to a vitamin and mineral chart which gives you information on all of the vitamins and minerals as well as what foods to eat to increase your levels of these.