A painful and common problem: leg cramps

Friday, October 5, 2012

Leg cramps are not rare at all. In fact, almost everyone experiences a cramp in their life. Cramps are common in adults and become increasingly frequent with age.

Most of the time, it is a harmless but annoying condition. You are walking, running etc. and you feel such a sudden muscle pain in the leg that you need to stop. 
Sometimes, it occurs at night when you are sleeping. 

What is it exactly?

Leg cramps are caused by muscles spams: muscles suddenly shorten, they are contracted and you feel pain in your leg.
Why?  Irritated nerves send muscles a signal to repeatedly contract. Even if you try to relax, you can’t. 
You cannot control your muscle anymore as long as the spasm lasts. After a few seconds or minutes, you will be able to control your muscle again and there are not after-effects.

Scientists do not know why leg cramps occurs in healthy adults but there are different risk factors that make leg cramps more frequent, particularly when you are getting older:
  • Side-effects of certain medications
  • Poor muscle conditioning
  • Deficiencies in key minerals
  • Not getting enough to drink
  • Pregnancy
  • Liver diseases.

Most of the time (even if they aren’t related to an underlying condition) , you can consult with your doctor to check.
Then, there are a few tips to help you to prevent leg cramps.

You need to drink at least 1,5 liters of water. When you are doing sport, drink more to compensate for the loss. We are not sure if dehydration can cause leg cramps but it seems to contribute so it is important to get enough to drink. Limit or avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine
Drink water several times during your exercise routine. While hydrating before and after exercise is good, hydrating during your routine is even better.

Stretching can provide relief. For a calf cramp, lie down and flex the toes of the affected leg upward toward your nose. This action pulls the calf muscles in the opposite direction of the contracted muscles.
Stretch your muscles every day, especially before and after exercise.

Deficiencies in magnesium, potassium and calcium may be linked to leg cramps. Your electrolytes can be checked and you have to vary your diet with:
  • Magnesium-rich food: nuts, chocolate, cereals, spinach, artichoke, almonds and Goji berries.
  • Calcium-rich food: dairy products, green vegetables (spinach, green beans, broccoli), sesame and sunflower seeds, orange and blackcurrant.
  • Potassium-rich food: banana, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes.

You can find below a delicious smoothie recipe rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium and potassium. You can drink eat regularly.
You can also add water to dilute and drink it while you do exercise.

6 or 7 almonds
1 tablespoon of Goji berries
1 orange
2 tablespoons of blackcurrant
1 banana

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve in a large glass.

Massage can also help to prevent leg cramps. Do not hesitate to use essentials oils: they are wonderful.

Put 10 ml of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil in 100ml of almond oil and massage your leg before going to bed or after doing sports. You can keep this preparation in a tinted glass bottle.


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