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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Don't let muscle cramps cramp your fitness goals

I’ve got cramp. A painful condition and one which most of us can sympathise or even empathise with the sufferer, as we'll have suffered ourselves.  But, it is arguably a good enough reason for those of us struggling to stay and keep fit to give up the struggle.

Leg cramps can be the worst type of cramp preventing you from exercising and doing those workouts you promised you'd do. While cramps are short lived and don’t cause permanent damage it’s a setback you don’t need. 

So what causes cramp, and can you do anything to stop it or, reduce the pain so it doesn’t become a blocker to getting and staying fit?

Why you get muscle cramps

Here are a number of reasons why you may be getting leg cramps at the beginning of an exercise period. Just to note, cramps are involuntary contractions of your muscles:

- potassium deficiency
- Calcium deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency
- Lack of activity
- Dehydration
- Too much activity
- Poor circulation
- Muscle injury/strain
- Staying in the same position for a prolonged period of time

So there’s the list above, there may be more causes but the above are the most common.

How to prevent cramps or reduce the pain they cause

Here are some tips to reduce the impact leg cramps before you start exercising and end up giving up…
Tip 1: Stretch. You see professional atheletes do it before they begin playing a game. Stretch before and after exercising

Tip 2: Drink plenty of fluids. This maintains the nutrients in your body. When you exercise your body ‘leaks’ water and will cause dehydration if you don’t maintain the balance by taking in fluids

Tip 3: Massage the affected muscle

Tip 4: Apply a cold pack to the affected muscle

Folklore Remedies:

I can’t swear to these as I’ve never tried them but you could try the following if none of the above tips bring relief:1. Mustard. The acetic acid in mustard is believed to stimulate the muscles by producing more acetylcholine in the body. Since leg cramps may be caused by a deficiency of this compound, having a spoon of mustard can prevent leg cramps

2. Pickle juice

3. Tiger Balm (available in supermarkets or pharmacies)

4. Epsom salt is typically used as a soaking solution to treat muscle cramps

5. Bilberry fruits is not limited in preparing jams and pies, but is also used in treating muscle cramps. Anthocyanosides, present in Bilberries help in strengthening the blood vessels and relaxing the muscles

So there you have it, at least nine options to choose from next time you get cramp so you can overcome one of the struggles you have that can easily divert you during the journey towards   getting and staying fit.

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