Most of us have experienced muscle cramping at one point or another. They can range from small annoyances lasting a few seconds, to agonizing spasms that last for several minutes.
How to prevent muscle cramps
Some people think that getting cramps is just an unlucky break, and that there is nothing they can be done, but the truth is even elite athletes have experienced this as well as the regular gym goer.
An occasional, minor cramp here and there is probably inevitable but, for the most part, muscle cramps can be prevented with proper care and attention to a few details.
1. Warming up properly before a workout
Having a 10-20min warm up, not only prevents you from injury, but it also tells the body you are about to workout, preparing you for the workout, not only physically but also mentally. It also loosens the joints and increases blood flow to the muscle.
Even though warming up plays an important role in preventing the body from having any muscle cramps or injuries, it is also just as important that the individual is well hydrated by drinking fluids, in particular water.
A dehydrated muscle is very prone to muscle cramps.
In addition to making the muscle much more susceptible to cramping, dehydration has a huge effect on performance and almost every other function in the body.
Detecting dehydration is simple; the most common method for determining if you are dehydrated is through the color of urine.
As a general rule, the darker the urine, the more dehydrated you are. Urine should be clear, or a light yellow most of the time, indicate you are not dehydrated.
3. Make sure you are eating the right foods to balance the electrolytes levels in your body
What are electrolytes? Electrolytes are salts and minerals, such as sodium, potassium, Magnesium and Calcium, which are found in the blood.
Electrolytes levels in the body are lost through sweating, so its vital to include the following into your diet:
Potassium is another one of the electrolytes that is lost while sweating. Potassium deficiency is believed to be a major factor in causing susceptibility to muscle cramps. A deficiency can also affect strength performance.
The best source for Potassium in foods is:
Sweet Potatoes (much of the mineral content is in the skin)
Potatoes (much of the mineral content is in the skin
Many kinds of fish
Beets & Beet Greens
Magnesium is another electrolyte, and deficiency can also contribute to muscle cramps. Deficiency can also affect strength & performance, as well as many other health related issues.
The best source for Magnesium in foods is:
Halibut, Pollock, Yellowfin Tuna
Calcium is important for bone health, and it is also an electrolyte, which is important for muscle function. Calcium plays a direct role in muscular contraction. Deficiency can affect muscle performance, and can increase the risk of cramps.
Fortified dairy products
Turnip & Beet Greens
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D also plays a role in magnesium absorption.
The best sources for Vitamin D in foods is:
Exposure to sunlight
Fortified Dairy Products
Sardines & salmon
4. Poor Circulation
Smoking causes bad circulation of the blood to the muscles. Bad Circulation causes muscle cramps as well as various prescribed medications such as Lasix.
Body brushing is a great way of getting your circulation better, it also known to prevent colds.
Is also another way to get the circulation better, and lessen the pain of muscle cramps, promoting blood flow to your muscles as well as loosening muscle cramps by addressing trigger points and relaxing tense muscles. Its also a great way to relax the body and mind.
Stretching before and after exercise is always a good precaution, not just to prevent injuries, but it also increases blood flow to the muscles more efficiently.
Stretching makes you less stiff and promotes a better range in movement, not just when youre working out but in general.