Muscle cramp is something we’ve all felt. Whether it’s exercise induced or appears completely random, it’s horrible. Sadly there hasn’t been much successful research on the cause, prevention or cure of it. But it’s not all doom and gloom – here are some tweaks to your lifestyle that might help you battle muscle cramp!
Your body needs magnesium to stop swelling, inflammation and tension. Research has also shown that people who suffer from muscle cramp have a deficiency in magnesium. So how does it work? Magnesium prevents calcium from effecting the muscles as much, which causes them to tighten. In this sense, it loosens up your muscles. Magnesium also helps absorb potassium which is crucial for muscle function and suppleness. It also works to reduce pain receptors in the brain so you don’t feel the effect of cramping so much. And on top of all that? It relaxes blood vessels, decreasing blood pressure to promote healthy circulation – this will speed up muscle repair.
Magnesium is found in foods such as avocado, almonds and dark chocolate. Another way to help your muscle is to have a bath with magnesium flakes in. Magnesium can be absorbed through the skin so will relax your muscles!
If you’re lacking in salt, you’re lacking in sodium, and therefore electrolytes. During exercise, you lose a lot of sweat (especially if you’e wearing your Hot Pants™!) – along with sweat, you lose sodium levels in your blood. When this happens, your body desperately tries to cling onto that sodium in order to perform recovery functions. This process causes cramping.
It is also thought that too much salt in your diet can cause cramping, too. To prevent muscle cramps, think about your daily salt intake. If you don’t have enough salt, try sprinkling a pinch on every meal or drinking squash with a pinch of salt after you exercise. You might realise that you have too much sodium in your diet. This can be helped by home cooking and reducing the amount of unhealthy food.
Sometimes, the cause of cramping and be a knot in your muscle. This is typically the case if you have repetitive cramps. One way to release these knots, is by massaging them out. And what better way to massage your muscles independently than foam rolling? …or a tennis ball (but that’s more painful!). Put pressure on the foam roller with muscle that is causing you discomfort and roll it out. You might have to try a couple of different rollers to find a firmness that works for your body. Do this after you workout – not only will you hopefully prevent cramping, but you’ll feel more supple in general.
Similar to foam rolling, stretching could help you prevent muscle cramp. By stretching out your muscles, you’re giving them less room to bunch and cramp up. If you often have cramp in your legs, such as calf or quads, then stretching can have great effects. Your leg muscles are the biggest muscles in your body, which means that they are easier to stretch out well. Focus on this before and after you workout, and even before bed if possible, and you’ll help prevent cramp!