Hey – What About Us Normal People!

We write about athletes a lot here, it’s true.

I’m Not An Athlete & I Get Leg Cramps!

It’s true, Recovery e21 helps a lot of people outside the athletic realm.  So it’s LONG overdue to write a bit about those cases as well.  I will talk forever about triathlon, given the chance, so forgive me for going on and on about it without talking about the rest of you.

What causes these leg cramps?

There are a lot of theories, of course.  What I increasingly find to be true is that there are some people who are just prone to cramping.  For whatever reason, our bodies don’t naturally manage electrolytes as well as most people.  Yes, I said “our bodies” – I’m one of you.  While I would never refer to myself as “normal”, I do belong to this group.  haha.

We’ve written a lot about the sodium-potassium pump, and why we need electrolytes, so please review those articles if you’d like to learn more about some of the underlying causes of muscle cramps.

Here are several of the common types of cramps

1.  Calf Cramps.  This has got to be the most common kind of cramping.  These usually occur during the night, when you are otherwise relaxed.  And suddenly there is a massive knot screaming in your calf…followed immediately by you screaming and waking up the neighborhood.  Every cramp I’ve ever had has been painful…but these are killer.  Especially when they strike unexpectedly like that.

2.  Foot Cramps.  Do you get these?  I’ll admit, this usually happens when I’m swimming.  But not ALWAYS, so it counts for the non-athletes as well!  These are awful!!  They can occur in either foot, either right under the arch or on the outside bottom of the foot.  I suppose technically a cramp can occur anywhere there is a muscle, but those are the common areas.

3.  Arm Muscle Spams.  I might lose my “normal” status with this one, but this is one I personally get a lot.  It’s more of a spasm than a cramp, but a muscle group in my arm will start firing and won’t stop.  I’ve had them in my bicep, forearm, and one time in my triceps.  That one hurt, though these cramps are less painful and more…annoying.  The muscle will just twitch and twitch for hours.

4.  Quad Cramps.  We’ve just about covered the whole leg at this point!  Quad cramps will leave you motionless, and I personally have had them so bad they shot up into my spine and I was in agony.  This one will leave you totally immobilized for awhile.  It also leaves residual “soreness” after the cramp subsides.

What Do I Do About It?

Your experience may vary, but I find the following to help:

1.  Prevent them in the first place!  I know this isn’t as easy as it sounds, but there are things you can do to help.  Read up on our prevention articles on the site, and e21 really does help.  You can get it here on our site.  We have many clients that get leg cramps at night and have had tremendous success with e21.  To the point that our office gets panic-sounding calls if their supplies run low without getting noticed.

2.  Put weight on them.  Try this at your own risk!!  I personally have had success getting cramps to ease by putting my body weight on them.  It is possible for this to send the cramp to “infinity and beyond”, so seriously try this at your own risk.  It helps for me sometimes, but if it backfires you will be in a lot of pain.  I would test it on a more minor cramp first.

3.  Stay hydrated.  While I think some of us tend to be crampers, I think hydration plays a large role.  Stay hydrated and eat properly.

Is Any Of This Stuff a Cure?

No.  I don’t think there really is a cure.  But by following these steps I have personally cut my cramping down to about 5-10% of what it used to be.  If I can prevent 90%-95% of my cramps with a few simple steps…I’m all for it.  Those of you that suffer with cramps are all nodding your heads in agreement!

If you have any other ideas, please share in the comments!

Leg Muscle Cramp Remedies

Order Recovery e21Leg cramps are involuntary muscles that contract and are unable to relax.  They can be very painful, and often feel like the muscle is hard and swollen as the muscle hardens.  While cramps can occur anywhere in the body, they are most commonly experienced in the lower leg, calf or front and back of thigh.

What causes leg cramps?

Muscle cramps most often occur when the muscle is fatigued either from overuse or injury.  Dehydration and electrolyte imbalance is  another cause of muscle cramps and are experienced often while swimming, playing tennis or other active sports.

How can I prevent or help reduce the occurrence of leg muscle cramps?

If leg cramps occur during exercise, stop immediately.  Stretch the muscle and do a light massage to help the muscle get back to the original shape.  Heat will also help relax the muscle, then try massaging it again.  Once the muscle has relaxed, you may use ice to help relieve any pain caused by the cramp.  If the pain persists consider an over the counter pain medication or NSAID.

Always keep yourself well hydrated before, during and after all sports activities.  If you are experiencing great amounts of sweat loss, then make sure to replenish electrolytes as well (sports drink, salt or electrolyte supplement). Always perform adequate stretching before and after all sports and or exercise routines.

Foods that may help with Leg Cramps?

To help prevent leg cramps, start by staying well hydrated and using sports drinks or electrolyte supplements, especially when working out in the summer or warm conditions.  Also, consuming foods rich in vitamin D like fish (salmon, halibut), milk, oatmeal will help to avoid muscle cramps.

As always, if leg cramps persist or are extremely painful, consult your physician for further treatment.

What Causes Muscle Cramps In Calves

What is a muscle cramp?Order Recovery e21

A muscle cramp is described as an involuntary contraction of a muscle that will not relax.  There are several different types of these cramps, including in the calves.  These are also sometimes called a “charlie horse.”  An entire muscle, or even just fibers in that muscle that involuntary contract starts out as a spasm, and if the spasm will not relax or stop it can turn into a cramp.  The cramp may appear while engaging in activity, but just as often happen while the body is at rest.  They are extremely common and has been estimated that almost everyone, or 95% of people will experience one at some point in their lifetime.

What can cause a muscle cramp in calves?

True cramps (cramps that involve part of or all of a single muscle or group of muscles) might be a protective reaction to a possible injury.  The spasm will appear to minimize movement in the affected or injured area to prevent further damage or injury.  These type of crams are often associated with vigorous and taxing activity, such as endurance or intense sports.  On the flip side, rest cramps are also very common, especially in older adults. They typically happen at night and can be very painful – also very commonly in the calf.

Dehydration is a major factor and increases the likelihood of cramps.  They are more common in warmer weather, and may act as a sort of warning sign of heat stroke.  Sodium depletion, as well as magnesium & other mineral deficiencies and  can also be associated with these types of cramps.

What can I do to help ease the camp in my calf?

First, try to relax the muscle as much as possible.  If you are engaging in activity, then stop immediately to try to ease the contracted muscle.  Try a light stretch and gentle massage to release the fibers.  Warm water soak or heating pad can also help relax the contraction if it continues once you have stopped activity.

One the muscle fibers have released, you may experience a soreness from the cramp, and can treat it like any other muscle injury or soreness:  Ice the affected area.  Take over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil, Motrin or Aleve.  Drink plenty of fluids and follow a well balanced and nutrient rich diet full of natural electrolytes, vitamins and minerals. If the cramping persists, consult with your physician for further treatment and diagnosis.

Muscle Cramps in Your Feet and Toes


Why do we experience these cramps?

Our feet & toes experience muscle cramps more than any other muscle in the body. They take a beating day in and day out with the majority of our body weight being transferred to our feet as we move around.  These cramps are an involuntary spasm that can be short and harsh, but can also stay cramped and cause the muscle to become sore even after the cramp has finished.

Athletes and elderly people are more prone to these types of cramps due to muscular weakness, overuse, loss of muscle as well as nutritional deficiency such as electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.

What are some more specific causes of feet and toe cramps?

People that have flat or low arches with little flexibility in their feet and toes are more prone to foot cramps.  With increased exercise such as running, more pressure is put on the arch and foot causing it to be overworked and as a result, cramping.  An increase of intensity of workouts as well as overuse injuries may also lead to a foot cramp.

Additionally, people with a sedentary lifestyle that have muscle weakness may also experience more frequent cramps.

Lack of nutrients (electrolytes), specifically vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are necessary for NORMAL muscle and nerve function and may induce spasms.  These imbalances can be easily treated by restoring the levels with diet and/or dietary supplements.  Dehydration could be a major factor in this as well.

Are there ways to prevent these cramps?

To help promote blood flow always do proper warm-ups before exercise and cool-downs after.  Make sure to stretch all muscles before and after workouts and always use good footwear to protect the muscles.

What can I do to stop the cramps once they have started?

Start by stretching the affected area or muscle that is in spasm.  If your foot is cramping inward, start by slowly stretching your foot in the opposite direction.  Ice the cramped area when it’s still in the acute or beginning stages, but if the cramping and pain continues warm water therapy (jacuzzi) can help release the cramp as well as gently massaging the area.

If the cramping and pain persists anti-infamatories can help reduce the pain along with rest and continued ice treatment.  If the problem persists, consult your physician for advice and possibly more aggressive treatment.

What if I eat a healthy diet, but still have muscle cramps?

What is a muscle cramp?

Any involuntary contraction of a muscle can be described as a muscle cramp.  They can happen during activity or exercise, but they can also happen when we are sleeping or even just resting.  Cramping occurs most often in calves, thighs and arch of foot and are often times referred to as a “charley horse.”

What can we do about them?

Dehydration, and vitamin deficiency are the key causes of muscle cramps.  Those of us who train in excess heat know there is no way to drink enough water during our long training hours to compensate for the sweat loss.  Have you ever weighed yourself before or after a workout in the heat?  Try it.  While continuing to drink water and sports drinks will absolutely help, it has also become very important to supplement the nutrients lost in other ways as well.

Which vitamins and nutrients are most important to replenish and or supplement?

Eating healthy diets full of natural vitamins and minerals is the best start to not only replenishing nutrients lost while exercise, but they can also help to prevent deficiencies that lead to muscle cramps.  Eating foods rich in potassium and magnesium like bananas, fish and melons are very helpful.

While eating a healthy diet is our best choice for adding essentials vitamins and minerals, often time we still don’t get enough, or as much as we need.  Taking supplements such as a B complex (helps with nerve impulse), Vitamin C ( an antioxidant an it helps build collagen – important for muscle cells) , Magnesium and Calcium (these deficiencies usually coincide and are both commonly related to muscle cramps) can also be helpful.

The best plan?

Start with a healthy diet full of “clean” natural foods.  Fruits and vegetables, nuts, lean meat and fish.  If you are still experiencing muscle cramps, particularly associated with exercise and excess sweat – try adding additional vitamin supplements as suggested above to your diet.

Magnesium And Muscle Cramps

How does magnesium relate to muscle cramps?

Leg and calf cramps are two of the most common muscle cramps people experience. Athletes are prone to them due to depletion and or lack of vital nutrients in their diet. These involuntary cramps can come with no warning, and stop you in your tracks while running, swimming, as well as waking you from sleep. There are several ways to reduce and eliminate these nagging cramps, magnesium being just one of them.

Magnesium is essential

magnesiumMagnesium is needed for hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle function and when depleted through excessive exercise (via sweat), these muscles may become problematic. Magnesium is important for the relaxation and contraction of muscles. Many athletes will try replacing or supplementing their diets with sodium to prevent muscle cramps. While sodium may provide temporary relief of the symptoms, more times than not the underlying cause of these muscle cramps are from low concentration of magnesium in the blood system. Furthermore, magnesium is essential for controlling the sodium and potassium pump.

Magnesium missing from most electrolyte products.

Sports drinks are the go to electrolyte replacement product. Products such as Gatorade are advertised as the key way to replace the essential nutrients lost via sweat and vigorous exercise. These sport drinks typically contain: sugars, high fructose corn syrup, natural flavors, sodium and potassium. What is missing? The magnesium essential for controlling and absorbing the electrolytes. How many times have you seen someone stop mid length in a swimming pool crabbing their calf, foot or quad gasping in pain. Me, I’ve seen it more times than I can count (most commonly with men). Sometimes stopping, stretching and massaging the cramp with help, or you will see the person actually get out of the pool to down some electrolyte drink then get back in the pool to finish their workout. In my experience watching these instances, I would say 50% of them don’t recover from the cramp and are left frustrated and not finishing the workout. Every single person that I have come across that suffers from these type of cramps I have offered up a sample of Recovery e21 electrolyte supplement and have seen amazing success. The magic seaweed/electrolyte pills that contain all essential minerals including magnesium could be one of the best remedies I have seen with fantastic results. Muscle cramps are just one of them….

What are some natural magnesium sources?

Bran varieties such as rice, wheat & oat are very high in magnesium and found in many healthy breakfast cereal options. Green leafy vegetables (spinach) and broccoli are also great sources of magnesium. Quick to grab snacks or salad toppers like pumpkin seeds and squash seeds contain over 100% of the dietary value of magnesium per serving. While adding magnesium to your diet via food consumption is the best way to naturally replenish it, often times magnesium supplements are used in the form of a pill and often very effective at reducing symptoms associated with low levels such as leg cramps and muscle fatigue.

In summary, If the body does not have enough magnesium in the system, muscular energy is compromised and symptoms such as muscle cramps, sleep disturbance dizziness and fatigue may occur. Replenishing or supplementing magnesium will help reduce these symptoms as well as promote overall good health. Do your research. Look at the labels and make sure you are getting the most nutritional supplementation in a single does. Make sure you record and take note of the results and how your body responded.

 

Find more electrolyte replacement products here.