Muscle Cramps and How to Get Rid of Them!
I received a great question on my blog a few weeks ago that I think of lot of people may be wondering about:
“What is muscle or leg cramps? What causes them? What is the best remedy?
How to get relieve of muscle cramps through exercise?”
Let me start by saying I am by no means a doctor, nor do I have a medical degree. I am, however, an exercise specialist and have extensive knowledge of the muscular system. I also experience cramping from time to time myself and work with many clients that stuffer from the same cramping issues.
So, what is a muscle cramp exactly? A muscle cramp is a strong, painful contraction or tightening of a muscle – they come on suddenly and can last from a few seconds to several minutes. They often occur in the legs, but you can get them in any muscle. Another name often used for muscle cramping is, “Charley Horse,” which is a spasm/tightening in the calf muscle. I get them a ton in my feet after I’ve been walking around all day!
The cause of leg cramps can be a thousand different things; it’s not exactly the type of symptom you want to plug into WebMD. Some of the more common causes are dehydration, exercise, common vitamin/mineral deficiencies (calcium, magnesium, or potassium, etc), pregnancy and medications. If you do have additional serious symptoms going along with muscle cramps, though, I do recommend you see a doctor.
Now, the important part: How to get rid of these pesky muscle cramps! Here are some things I recommend:
Stretching before bed, especially the area where you usually get muscle cramps. For example, if you hamstring cramps, try this straddle forward bend:
Muscle cramps can also be caused by poor blood flow. Try lying on the ground with your legs up the wall, or inversions in order to get the blood flowing.
Drink LOTS of water!!! As I mentioned dehydration is often a cause of muscle cramping. Remember, if you drink coffee or alcohol during the day, or exercise, then you need to increase your daily water intake. Try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon into a glass of water (lemon helps replenish your body salts!) to increase hydration.
Add a Magnesium supplement to your daily routine, upon doctor’s guidance and/or approval. Magnesium is an important player in the body’s function and relaxes the nervous system, thus relaxing your muscles. As an added benefit, you may find yourself also sleeping better!
Eat potassium rich foods such as bananas, dark leafy greens, avocados, etc. You can find a pretty good list here. Potassium is an electrolyte rich food and helps regulate functions of the muscle.
Hope this helps!!!
Would love to hear from you: Do you suffer from muscle cramps? What cures work for your!??
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!