If you've ever experienced severe cramp, you know that you wouldn't wish it on anyone. If you're unlucky enough to suffer from cramps often, try these top tips to prevent them from happening and release you to live a pain-free life.
1. Stay well hydrated.
Staying hydrated is one of the pillars of leading a healthy lifestyle, along with eating well, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of good quality sleep. If you are dehydrated, there are lots of negative physical affects you will experience and severe cramping is likely to be one of them. By drinking a minimum of 2 litres of water each day, you will greatly reduce your risks of getting leg cramps as well as being healthier overall.
If you struggle to drink enough water, try carrying a reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go, to remind you to keep drinking throughout the day. Sundried's water bottle is BPA free as well as being shatter- and leak-proof so you can use it on-the-go without worrying about dropping it or it leaking everywhere.
2. Stretch every day, especially before and after you exercise.
While doing static stretches before exercise is widely discouraged, making sure you warm up and cool down properly is still paramount. Do dynamic stretches like leg swings and arm rotations as your warm up and leave static stretches for after you finish in order to recover better after exercise.
Try to stretch every day, even on days when you're not exercising, to keep your muscles flexible and supple and less inclined to cramp up. If you are hypermobile, be careful not to overstretch your muscles or joints during static stretching so as to avoid injuries and pulled muscles.
3. Limit or avoid alcohol.
Alcohol is a diuretic and interferes with the mechanism that regulates water levels in the body. Studies show that even mild dehydration can cause cognitive dysfunction, meaning your concentration and brain power is greatly compromised. Not only this, consumption of alcohol causes a drop in blood sugar level which can increase lactic acid in the body, which is a major cause of cramp. By limiting or removing alcohol altogether, you are more likely to be well hydrated and more alert and enjoy better performance in sport and exercise.
4. Eat a balanced diet rich in natural sources of calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Low levels of calcium and magnesium in the blood have the unusual effect of exciting your nerve endings and by extension the muscles that they stimulate. So, as you guessed it, cramping is caused as a result. Calcium, potassium, and magnesium deficiencies can be caused by any number of factors such as being pregnant, excessive vomiting, a vitamin D deficiency, and of course just not getting enough of these minerals in your daily diet.
Increase your calcium, potassium, and magnesium levels by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and getting plenty of natural sunlight. You can also take a vitamin supplement to boost your intake, but it's always best to get your nutrients from real food first and only supplement if you really need to.
5. Increase your activity level gradually.
One of the main causes of muscle cramp is over-exercise and an excessive build up of lactic acid. If you're new to exercise, you are far more likely to experience a lactic acid build up and the ensuing DOMS and aches that comes with it. To reduce DOMS in the legs, as well as cramps, increase your activity levels gradually and don't overdo it at the gym.