What a major wake up call I received this morning! Muscle cramp in my right calf muscle. Not just once but TWICE. It was so painful, and trust me, I woke up quickly. At some point in your life you’ve probably had muscle cramps... when a muscle that normally only does what you tell it to do suddenly gets a mind of its own and decides to contract even when you tell it to calm down. A cramp can hit at any time but it seems we mostly experience them in the middle of the night or when stretching in the morning and usually in the lower legs and feet. So if you’re suffering with muscle cramps, check out these 4 common causes and how to remedy the situation.
Our bodies require a very delicate balance of minerals to be kept. As we sweat and our bodies continue basic functions, this delicate balance can be thrown off if we’re not regularly replenishing those minerals. And while potassium is often the most vilified when it comes to muscle cramps, sodium, calcium, and magnesium also play an important role. Many people assume that if they’re having muscle cramps it means they’re deficient in one or more of these minerals, but too much may also result in cramping. Each plays an important role in muscle function and too much or too little of any of them can disrupt normal function, resulting in those irritating cramps.
You may need to change your diet, or increase or decrease your supplements. It’s important to speak with your doctor about what changes you can make to get your body back into balance.
With our busy lifestyles we tend to not drink enough water. Along with that delicate mineral balance, hydration is just as important. In order for those minute, yet oh-so-important, cellular functions to happen correctly, cells need to be hydrated; keeping the proper balance of water and minerals. With the summer months upon us it is extremely important to drink water throughout the day especially if you are outside. I was talking to a coach of a little league team about the subject of water during this hot summer months. One thing he said was that water is important but if you are outside and sweating you need to replace minerals and electrolytes also. Drink 90% water and 10% a drink like Gatorade. So if you’re experiencing regular cramping, increasing your water intake and something that replaces minerals and electrolytes may be a simple solution.
I am a weekend warrior. I love to work outside in the garden and overusing any muscle can be a big cause of muscle cramping. Whether this is chronic overuse or a sudden change in intensity due to exercise, the nervous system is usually to blame here. Your nerves can become overexcited and it can be difficult to calm them down. This is just another reason to take the time, no matter what the physical activity, take time to cool down giving your nervous system time to calm back down back into a resting state.
LACK OF MOVEMENT
On the opposite end of the spectrum, too little movement can be just as detrimental and result in muscle cramps. Again, your nervous system is probably to blame here and it’s simply a malfunction of the nerves. A little stimulation to them can often solve this problem. If you find yourself sitting a lot try taking a 5-10 minute break every hour and just walk around. Go outside and go for a walk. Bonus is you get a little Vitamin D.
If you notice here, it’s all about balance. Your body requires a delicate balance to be kept of water and minerals, movement and rest. If you’re experiencing muscle cramps, what changes can you make to get your body back into balance?
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