A piece about recovery…
Now recovery is one of the most important pieces of any part of your life be it recovering from a hangover, upset stomach or from broken dreams. But recovery from exercise is so important especially when the races you do deplete your body of every last ounce of energy. About 2 years a go when I first started taking triathlons and running seriously I was put onto a company called Better You by my good friend James Page another of my endurance friends. We had been doing a recci of The Brutal Oner course and he gave me a few samples of their Magnesium oil. He told me that this spray works miracles and can help recover your muscles after intense bouts of exercise. He warned me that it stings a bit when first applied at that was it working its miracles. I was super skeptical as there is a lot of products on the market that claim to do this kind of thing and fail. But that night I went home after 30 miles on some pretty brutal hills my legs were battered. I had a shower and applied this “spray” to my legs and waited – after about 30 seconds I felt this weird tingling sensation and it started to get really warm. I went to bed and was slightly miffed that my legs were not back in working order so quickly. But when I woke up it was incredible my legs felt really fresh and had none of my usual niggles.
This spray is now dotted all over my house and in every single kit bag. It is at the top of my list to take to a race even before my clothes as I could probably complete a race without any clothes but not this spray. It is perfect for triathlons as you can keep a bottle in your transition area and just whack it on whenever you need it. I take it on all my long runs, every time I stop for food or toilet break the spray is out. It can be used pre, during and post race. It has become so ingrained into my race prep and racing day that I think I would turn into a petulant child who has lost its dummy without it.
Now I am not a bath man, but after a big race or training session there is nothing more that I look forward to than a bath with their Magnesium Flakes. It’s like a supercharged version of the spray. I was lucky enough to become an ambassador for Better You when they supported me and my friend Jake on our bike ride around the UK. We got to meet the team before last years Brownlee triathlon and we were both blown away by the passion that the company has for transdermal magnesium. Their passion has boosted my own passion for pushing my body to the limit. Im looking forward to another crazy year with these guys supporting me every step of the way. They are continually developing new products and am always excited to try out their new lines. I think I spied a magnesium gel and a turmeric spray doing the rounds on social media.
Having completed some pretty heavy races like The Oner twice, 100 mile races and now The Double Ironman i honestly don’t know where i would be without such an impressive product. Now less about me and heres the science… This is taken from some of the Better You’s press releases and I feel answers the questions I wanted answering when I first set eyes on the product.
Why is magnesium important for people who do a lot of sports?
Magnesium plays a fundamental role in optimal muscle contraction, skeletal strength, and helps sustain the high oxygen consumption necessary for athletic performance. Adequate magnesium levels will help your body against fatigue, heat exhaustion, blood sugar control, and metabolism.
Transdermal magnesium therapy
Magnesium is a mineral that is difficult to supplement through traditional oral means. As it is a natural relaxant, too much in one go can have a laxative effect.
One of the most exciting developments in muscle recovery techniques is saturating the skin with magnesium. The magnesium used in transdermal magnesium therapy is in the form of magnesium chloride which is exceptionally well absorbed through the skin, and importantly, is the most soluble form of all the magnesium compounds – making it ideal to be used as a spray.
Magnesium can be applied either as a direct body spray (try BetterYou MagnesiumOil) rubbed directly into the muscle areas or as a magnesium-rich body or foot bath (try BetterYou Magniesum Flakes Foot and Body Soak).
I have pasted this super scientific piece from Better You as it is so insightful and really gives you an in-depth understanding of the benefits of magnesium.
THE REAL SUPER SCIENCE
A review of the benefits of magnesium in exercise
Magnesium is an essential mineral that regulates membrane stability and neuromuscular, cardiovascular, immune, and hormonal functions and is a critical cofactor in over 325 enzymatic reactions. Athletes consuming high-energy diets maybe ingesting sufficient amounts of magnesium, whereas those consuming diets designed for maintaining or decreasing body weight, may become magnesium deficient. This is because exercise under certain conditions appears to lead to magnesium depletion through alterations in blood magnesium levels and increased excretion through sweat and urine may worsen a state of deficiency, especially when magnesium intake is inadequate. Because magnesium is required for the activity of many enzymatic reactions, a deficiency of the mineral has many physiological and exercise performance implications. Research has shown that magnesium deficiency reduces physical performance and magnesium status may have an effect on exercise capacity (1-5). Studies have also demonstrated supplementation with magnesium has improved magnesium status which has associated with improved athletic performance.
Alterations in Blood Magnesium Levels with Exercise
It appears that acute changes in serum or plasma magnesium concentrations are closely related to exercise intensity and duration. In general, short-term, high-intensity exercise has been shown to be associated with increased serum or plasma magnesium concentrations, while long term endurance exercise results in decreased concentrations. In the first instance, hypermagnesemia may appear as a consequence of a decrease in plasma volume or a shift of cellular magnesium resulting from acidosis and muscle contraction. Whereas, in the latter type of exercise, the hypomagnesemia may reflect a redistribution of magnesium in the body compartments, perhaps indicating a release from one storage area to be used at an active site (e.g., exercising muscle, erythrocytes, adipose tissue) (6).
Studies have shown that after short term, high-intensity exercise serum or plasma magnesium levels may be unchanged or even transiently increased (7-9). In one study the mean plasma magnesium concentrations significantly increased post-exercise and remained elevated for the hour following exercise. The authors suggest that exercise causes a reduction of plasma volume and this increases the concentration of plasma components (7). Other researchers demonstrated after high-intensity exercise total serum magnesium concentration increased by a mean of 5 to 7%, and there was a mean decrease in plasma volume between 13 and 16% (8). These values returned to baseline the next day, indicating a transient increase in serum magnesium levels with high-intensity exercise. Similarly a significant increase in serum magnesium levels post-exercise in athletes and healthy subjects has been reported (9). Plasma volume immediately post-exercise decreased in both the athletes and healthy subjects an average of 13% from baseline. These values returned to baseline values in the recovery period, again indicating a transient increase in serum magnesium levels with maximal exercise due, in part, to the percent change in plasma volume.
A decrease in plasma and serum magnesium levels has been shown to result from prolonged endurance exercise. The first study to examine the response of serum magnesium to longterm endurance exercise reported a significant mean decrease in serum magnesium levels post-marathon compared with pre-marathon values in highly conditioned males. A reduction in serum or plasma magnesium concentrations with exercise has been verified since by numerous investigators (10-14). Some researchers have attributed decreases in serum or plasma magnesium levels to a shift of magnesium from serum or plasma to erythrocytes. A trial of Participants in two long-distance cross-country skiing competitions demonstrated that mean serum magnesium concentration was significantly decreased and the erythrocyte magnesium concentration significantly increased from pre-race to post-race after both races (10).
All levels returned to baseline by the fourth day after the races. The authors suggested that the decrease in magnesium concentration observed immediately after prolonged heavy exercise may be accounted for by a shift of magnesium into erythrocytes during exercise and a rapid shift of magnesium back to the serum afterward. Casoni et al reported a decrease in serum magnesium concentration after a 25-km road race (11). Mean erythrocyte magnesium concentrations increased significantly after the race as well. The authors attributed the increase in erythrocyte magnesium concentration to a shift of magnesium from the plasma to erythrocytes and suggested that the uptake of magnesium by erythrocytes may enhance the function of erythrocytes during exercise. Although a definitive explanation for this shift has not been elucidated, an adequate concentration of erythrocyte magnesium may be required for ATPase activity and dephosphorylation. Thus, when metabolic activity is increased, as during exercise, the requirement for magnesium may increase.
Other researchers have attributed decreases in serum or plasma magnesium levels after prolonged exercise to a shift of magnesium from plasma to adipocytes. Franz et al proposed a mechanism for magnesium uptake into adipocytes (14). At the end of prolonged endurance exercise, muscle glycogen approaches depletion and fatty acids provide a larger amount of muscle energy. As free fatty acids are mobilized, magnesium is taken into fat cells, causing a decrease in plasma magnesium levels.
A transient shift of magnesium from the extracellular fluid to skeletal muscle is another proposed mechanism for the decrease in magnesium during exercise. Exercising muscle appears to slowly increase in magnesium content, which is paralleled by a decline in plasma magnesium concentration, suggesting that the reduction in serum magnesium observed during exercise may be, in part, a function of redistribution of serum magnesium into the working muscle (14). These magnesium shifts into contracting muscle may be a function of increased metabolic need. Most studies have found that serum or plasma magnesium levels returned to normal values within 24 h post-exercise. However, Stendig-Lindberg et al. have reported long-term magnesium loss by trained athletes undergoing sustained heavy exercise (15).
Alterations in Urinary and Sweat Magnesium Levels with Exercise
Sweat losses of magnesium in athletes during endurance exercise have been estimated to be about 1% of the total body content. (16). Costill et al. reported that an intense training session in a hot environment may lead to a sweat loss of up to 2.8 L/h and may eliminate between 18 and 60 mg of magnesium per litre, representing 5 to 20% of the recommended daily intake of magnesium (12). Others have reported lower sweat magnesium concentrations, but these losses may still be significant, especially in conjunction with low dietary magnesium intakes by some athletes (16,17). A single bout of exercise may not produce a noticeable magnesium loss, but daily training may lead to continuous depletion (12). Exercise may also induce an increase in the urinary excretion of magnesium. Lijnen et al. investigated the effect of a marathon on urinary magnesium excretion in healthy male subjects on an ad libitum diet (18). Compared with a baseline urinary magnesium excretion rate of 0.70 mg/min, the excretion rate after 12 h of recovery was significantly higher (p < 0.05), 0.92 mg/min, an increase of 31% in the rate of urinary magnesium excretion. Deuster et al. also found an increase in the rate of urinary magnesium excretion with short-term, high-intensity exercise (19).
Lukaski et al. compared magnesium nutriture with maximal oxygen consumption among trained athletes and untrained subjects (4). Plasma magnesium levels were significantly correlated with maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) among the athletes. Only a weak association was found between VO2max and plasma magnesium levels in the untrained men. The authors suggested that ionic magnesium may facilitate oxygen delivery to working muscle in trained subjects. The relationship between VO2max and plasma magnesium levels in trained athletes infers the possibility of a metabolic role for magnesium during exercise other than its role as a coenzyme and in neuromuscular function, and may represent a cellular adaptation of magnesium to physical training.
Magnesium Deficiency and Muscle Cramps
Magnesium deficiency resulting from physical activity has also been implicated as a possible cause of muscle cramps and muscle spasms in two case study reports (20,21). Additionally, Williamson et al evaluated serum magnesium levels and the incidence of muscle cramps before and after a 100-mile cycling race in trained cyclists (22). Serum magnesium levels were determined just before and immediately following the race and were adjusted for haemoconcentration following the race. Muscle cramps were experienced in 46% of the riders. Mean serum magnesium levels declined pre- to post-race. The mean decline in serum magnesium levels in cyclists who cramped compared to those who did not cramp was highly statistically significant. The authors concluded that magnesium plays a role in stabilizing the neuromuscular system through its role in both nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Assuming that the decline in serum magnesium levels can be attributed to uptake by red blood cells, sweat losses, and/or urinary excretion, a transient magnesium deficiency may be enough to create abnormalities of the nerve or neuromuscular tissue membrane potentials. By adversely affecting the sodium/potassium pump at these sites, alterations in the resting membrane potential and repolarization may occur.
The effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Exercise Performance
Golf et al. examined the effects of magnesium oroate supplementation on the physical performance during a triathalon of male competitive triathletes (23). Compared with the athletes given a placebo, the supplemented athletes had significantly better performance times. Ahlborg et al. investigated the effect of potassium-magnesium -aspartate supplementation on the capacity for continuous prolonged physical exercise in young healthy males (24). The men supplemented with potassium magnesium- aspartate showed a 50% increase on the capacity for continuous physical exercise versus those men given the placebo. A limiting factor in heavy work is the availability of energy-rich phosphate in the working muscle. Potassium magnesium- aspartate may accelerate the resynthesis of energy-rich phosphates, ATP and phosphocreatine, resulting in an increased amount of available energy-rich phosphates in muscle. Muscle glycogen is of vital importance for the resynthesis of phosphocreatine and ATP, and it is known that there is also a close relationship between the capacity for prolonged exercise and the glycogen content of the working muscle. At the time when the subjects discontinued the exercise because of muscle pain, the glycogen stores of the working leg muscles may have been depleted. Magnesium may accelerate glycogen resynthesis in muscle or have a sparing effect of muscle glycogen, thereby decreasing the rate of glycogen use and sparing energy.
The reduced capacity to exercise in hypomagnesemia has also been attributed to membrane fluidity changes that may induce erythrocyte fragility, affect electrolyte exchange, and contribute to fatigue. Brilla and Haley investigated the effect of a magnesium oxide supplement on strength development (25). Twenty-six subjects 18 to 30 years of age with no strength training in the last 6 months were randomly divided into two groups: a group supplemented with magnesium oxide and a control group given a placebo. The total amount of magnesium ingested by the placebo group was 246.5 mg/day compared with the supplemented group who averaged 507.4 mg/day. Subjects then engaged in a 7-week strength training program. The strength increases, as measured by isokinetic torques of the knee extensors, were significantly greater (p < 0.05) for the magnesium-supplemented group than the control group (26 vs. 11%, respectively). The authors postulated that magnesium may play a role in protein synthesis and suboptimal magnesium intakes may affect the increased muscle protein density normally associated with strength training. The increase in protein density may allow for a greater number of actin-myosin bridges, thereby yielding greater force production.
- Rayssiguier, Y., Guezennec, C. Y., and Durlach, J., New experimental and clinical data on the relationship between magnesium and sport, Res., 1990; 3:93– 02.
- Keen, C. L., Lowney, P., Gershwin, M. E., Hurley, L.S., and Stern, J. S., Dietary magnesium intake influences exercise capacity and hematologic parameters in rats, Metabolism, 1987; 36:788–793.
- Laires, M. J., Rayssiguier, Y., Guezennec, C. Y., Alves, F., and Halpern, M. J., Effect of magnesium deficiency on exercise capacity in rats, Magnesium Res, 1989; 2:
- Lukaski, H. C., Bolonchuk, W. W., Klevay, L. M., Milne, D. B., and Sandstead, H. H., Maximal oxygen
consumption as related to magnesium, copper, and zinc nutriture, Am. J. Clin. Nutr.,1983; 37:407–415.
- Conn, C. A., Schemme, R. A., Smith, B. W., Ryder, E., Henser, W. W., and Ku, P. K., Plasma and erythrocyte magnesium concentrations and correlations with maximum oxygen capacity, Magnesium, 1988; 7:27– 36.
- Seelig, M. S., Consequences of magnesium deficiency on the enhancement of stress reactions; preventive and therapeutic implications, Am. Coll. Nutr., 1994; 13:429–446.
- Joborn, H., Akerstrom, G., and Ljunghall, S., Effects of exogenous catecholamines and exercise on plasma magnesium concentrations, Endocrinol. Oxford, 1985; 23:219–226.
- Cordova, A. and Alvarez-Mon, M., Serum magnesium and immune parameters after maximal exercise in sportsmen, Magnesium Bulletin, 1996; 18:66–70.
- Cordova, A., Changes in plasmatic and erythrocytic magnesium levels after high- intensity exercises in man, Behav., 1992; 52:819–821.
- Refsum, H. E., Meen, H. D., and Stromme, S., Whole blood, serum and erythrocyte magnesium concentrations after repeated heavy exercise of long duration, J. Clin. Lab Invest., 1973; 32:123–127.
- Casoni, I., Guglielmini, C., Graziano, L., Reali, M. G., Mazzotta, D., and Abbasciano, V., Changes of magnesium concentrations in endurance athletes, J. Sports Med.,1990; 11:234–237.
- Costill, D. L., Sweating: its composition and effect on body fluids, N Y Acad. Sci.,1977; 301:160–170.
- Laires, M. J. and Alves, F., Changes in plasma, erythrocyte, and urinary magnesium with prolonged swimming exercise, Magnesium Res., 1991; 4:119–122.
- Franz, K. B., Ruddel, H., Todd, G. L., Dorheim, T. A., Buell, J. C., and Eliot, R. S., Physiological changes during marathon, with special reference to magnesium, Am. Coll. Nutr., 1985; 4:187–194.
- Stendig-Lindberg, G., Shapiro, Y., and Epstein, Y., Changes in serum magnesium concentration after strenuous exercise., Am. Coll. Nutr., 1988; 6:35–40.
- Consolazio, C., Excretion of sodium, potassium, magnesium, and iron in human sweat and the relation of each to balance requirements, Nutr., 1963; 79:407–415.
- Robinson, S., and Robinson, A. H., Chemical composition of sweat, Revi., 1954; 34:202–220.
- Lijnen, P., Hespel, P., Fagard, R., Lysens, R., Vanden-Eynde, E., and Amery, A., Erythrocyte, plasma and
urinary magnesium in men before and after a marathon, Eur. J. Appl. Physiol., 1988; 58:252–256.
- Deuster, P. A., Dolev, E., Kyle, S. B., Anderson, R. A., and Shoomaker, E. B., Magnesium homeostasis
during high-intensity anaerobic exercise in men, J. Appl. Physiol., 1987; 62:545–550.
- Liu, L., Hypomagnesemia in a tennis player, Physician Sportsmedicine, 1983; 11:79–80.
- Bilbey, D. L. J. and Prabhakaran, V. M., Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports, Canadian Family Physician, 1996; 42:1348–1351.
- Williamson, S. L., Johnson, R. W., Hudkins, P. G., and Strate, S. M., Exertional cramps: a prospective study of biochemical and anthropometric variables in bicycle riders, Cycling Sci., 1993; 15:
- Golf, S. W., Bender, S., and Gruttner, J., On the significance of magnesium in extreme physical stress, Drugs Ther., 1998; 12:197–202.
- Ahlborg, B., Ekelund, L. G., and Nilsson, C. G., Effect of potassium-magnesium- aspartate on the capacity for prolonged exercise in man, Physiol. Scand., 1968; 74:238–245.
- Brilla, L. R., and Haley, J. F., Effect of magnesium supplementation on strength training in humans, Am. Coll. Nutr., 1992; 11:326–329.