I keep getting muscle cramps after exercise. Are there any natural remedies?
First make sure you are warming up & cooling down properly before and after you exercise. Otherwise, you can help reduce cramping by addressing your body’s mineral balance. Cramps are popularly believed to be the result of a salt deficiency, but this is actually very rare. The spasms are actually caused by the inability of the muscle to relax, and this is likely to be due to low magnesium & potassium – which work with the sodium in salt and another mineral, calcium, to control muscle contraction & relaxation. You need to eat a diet rich in foods that have a lot of magnesium, such as green vegetables, nuts & seeds. Most fruits & vegetables are rich in potassium (bananas have a great source), so have at least five portions of fruit & vegetables a day. To absolutely ensure you’re getting enough magnesium, you may want to try taking a supplement – 300mg twice a day.
Above article by Patrick Holford – 500 Health & Nutrition Questions Answered
WFT Is Happening When You Get A Aramp While Working Out?
By Alexa Tucker
Here’s how you can help prevent those tight, painful muscle spasms.
One minute you’re crushing your workout, and the next, you’re blindsided with a tight, pinching, what-the-hell muscle pain. Yup, muscle cramps are pretty much the worst, and they can bring your workout to a screeching halt.
In the moment, all you’re thinking about is the agony, but there’s a lot more going on. “The main culprit is running out of the fuel that helps muscles contract and relax, and they wind up stuck in an ‘on’ position,” explains exercise physiologist Dean Somerset, C.S.C.S. That’s why a cramped muscle feels hard to the touch—it’s in full-on flex mode, to the point of pain.
Muscle cramps are still a bit of a medical mystery, but science has explained a few things about why they happen, how to prevent them, and what to do when one strikes. Here’s what you need to know.
Muscle cramps can happen to anyone, anytime—but there are a some things that increase your risk.
Cramps seem to hit without warning, and the electrolyte balance in your body is often to blame. “All of your muscles contract and relax based on electrical impulses from the nervous system,” explains Somerset. “The nervous system sends an impulse to the muscle to cause it to contract, and then it sends another impulse to cause it to relax…and that’s all guided through potassium and sodium.” If your muscle is cramping, that means it’s not getting the signal to relax, often because it doesn’t have enough of either or both of those electrolytes available to send the message.
There are a few conditions that increase your odds of running low on electrolytes. One is exercising in the hot, hot, heat, since you’ll probably get extra sweaty as your body tries to cool down. “If you were running outside in 100-degree heat, your body is going to be sweating more than it would in 40 or 50 degree heat,” says Somerset. “Because of that you’re going to lose a lot more water and sweat, and your sodium and potassium are going to be affected.”
This electrolyte imbalance can also happen if you haven’t fuelled up properly—Somerset recommends eating something before a long workout (ideally something with sodium and potassium), or having a drink with those electrolytes mixed in if you don’t want to upset your stomach.
Muscle fatigue can also be a factor. In addition to electrolyte imbalance, there are some other physiological causes of cramping. “Overtraining can cause some issues, primarily due to the fact that if the muscle is really beat up and damaged, then it’s not going to be able to absorb nutrients and get rid of waste quite as easily,” says Somerset. This can happen over longer periods of time or even in the span of one long workout, like a marathon, so be sure to refuel during an hours-long sweaty workout.
A lack of blood flow can also create cramps, since your muscles won’t be getting the oxygen they need to function, explains Somerset. In many cases, it’s simply that your clothing is too restrictive—say, the elastic at the bottom of a pair of bike shorts is cutting off your circulation (many athletes actually love compression gear, just make sure it’s not so tight it restricts blood flow). In other cases though, this could a sign of something called claudication, which can be a symptom of vascular issues or a heart condition, says Somerset. If you frequently experience cramping in your lower limbs (like your calves), check in with a doctor.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to prevent muscle cramps.
First step? Drink your H20. “If you’re working out in heat, make sure you drink more than when you work out in more temperature-controlled environments, and take in more electrolytes,” says Somerset. Of course, staying hydrated is important no matter where you exercise, but it’s especially important in toasty temps.
It’s also important not to push beyond your limits, since muscle fatigue can cause cramping. “Typically this affects the end of a workout more than the beginning, such as in the final phases of a marathon or longer-duration event.” And, even though Somerset says warming up with dynamic stretching probably won’t directly prevent muscle cramps related to electrolyte imbalance, it reduces your risk of injury, which can cause muscle spasms (a cramp-like feeling, but instead of ‘locking up,’ the pain will be more ‘fluttering,’ he adds).
If you do experience spasms or sharp pain, stop what you’re doing (and always consult with your doctor for personalized recommendations).
And if a muscle cramp strikes, here’s how to ride it out.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if you’re already experiencing a muscle cramp. “Stop the movement that caused it, breathe deeply, and lightly massage [the area]. Be patient and try to remain calm,” suggests Kate Bishop, C.S.C.S., a personal trainer at Find Your Trainer. “Massage is an effective treatment [while a cramp is happening] because it creates a neurostimulation to cause the muscle to relax a little bit more,” adds Somerset.
The pain doesn’t always stop there, though. “The muscle is essentially contracting as hard as it can involuntarily, which can make it pretty sore afterwards, sort of like you just did the hardest workout possible and have the worst case of delayed onset muscle soreness ever,” says Somerset. Just like any soreness, this will go away with time, but he suggests moving with some gentle exercise to speed the process along (also make sure you’re making good nutrition choices to refuel).
“The bottom line is that cramps can occur in any individual at any time, regardless of fitness, gender, age, and hydration status,” says Bishop. And while some aspects of why muscle cramps happen and how to treat them remain a mystery, you can lower your chances to keep most of your workouts on track and cramp-free.