Help! I get muscle cramps during exercise, why is this?
You are not alone. It is more common that not to have one or two students in a class with me who will speak up during session and say that their hamstring, arch, or glute has cramped up. Leaving them in some pretty uncomfortable temporary pain.
But why is it that this happens anyway?
Well for starters lets understand how a cramp happens.
A cramp is a sudden and involuntary contraction of the muscle and can happen without warning. And although the “exact” cause can be a challenge to pinpoint, it is often the result of muscle overuse or strain from exercise, dehydration, diet, medications, pregnancy, heat or even age.
And despite the various reasons these pesky cramps happen, I know you are probably wondering what you can do to help prevent or overcome this sudden pain the rear.
Muscle overuse or strain from exercise
If you are going from no movement to sudden extreme action your body may not be happy to go along for the ride, especially if you are expecting it to go from zero to sixty in an instant. When it comes to exercise consider the value of a warm-up. Yes, something to help bridge the gap between your sedentary life and the point at which you want to go and get moving. Something like rolling out the bottoms of the feet prior to your run, yoga or TRX suspension weight training. Foam rolling, some gentle dynamic movements to let your bodies tissues know there is going to be more intense movement to come. This may not eliminate that pesky pain, but greatly reduce it.
Your body is made up mainly of water. Approximately 50-60% of your body is water, so it would be safe to say that water needs to be one of the main things you put into your body. And to be clear, I am not talking about coffee, soda, juice drinks, or alcohol. Good ole H20. Consider adding a drop of lemon essential oil, or fresh strawberries, or cucumber to your water to help your body absorb the hydration more effectively. But the rule of thumb is you NEED to be consuming .6 x your body weight in ounces, or roughly half your body weight in ounces. And more if you are active. So, here’s to drinking up and keeping those cramps at bay.
Here are a few to consider when feeling those cramps coming on.
Potassium is a critical mineral for muscle contraction. It’s often a go to fuel for those who like to hit the gym. Other sources of potassium include: apricots, oranges, lentils, salmon and sweet or baked potatoes with the skin.
Magnesium is a key mineral for relaxation. And is a good reason to bust out the dark chocolate or stock your fridge up with avocados, chicken or shrimp.
All too often we are worried about getting too much sodium. But in all honesty, you need sodium and if you exercise, you are most likely losing quite a bit of that essential mineral. So consider replenishing with a healthy post drink, a vegetable juice drink, or a few carrots or even pretzels.
Calcium is critical when it comes to bones and muscles. And although milk is often the go to for people when they think calcium (however, read your label it also is packed with sugar). Consider yogurt, kale, broccoli, tofu, or almonds of your specialty cheese.
Other things you can do to reduce cramping while exercising is reducing caffeine and making sure you stay hydrated!
Also many find relief in regular sessions of massage therapy or even foam rolling, to help get at those areas that may be restricted.
If you would like more information on how to maintain your health with exercise through diet, send us an email or scroll down and send us a message!