Muscle cramps are something most of us experience at some time. They can be incredibly painful, especially when they take us by surprise at night. I chatted with health coach, Lindsay Henderson of LHHL Coaching about what she would recommend for managing cramps and together we came up with this list of tips…
- If you always experience the cramps at a particular time or during a particular activity, be sure to keep your muscles warm – have a warm bath (add some epsom salts to your bath for a magnesium boost) or shower before and have a heat pack or hot water bottle ready.
- Stretch the muscle that is cramping. A cramped muscles is shortened and in spasm – if you can stretch it in its opposite direction it will loosen the cramp. For example, a cramp in your calf can be eased by flexing your foot / pulling back on your toes.
- A regular yoga practice can help your muscles stay strong and flexible and can loosen tension. As part of our VIP Vitality Yoga membership we have a chillout class on a Tuesday evening that would be perfect for anyone suffering from night cramps.
- Massage your leg – a strong massage or kneading in the direction of the heart can help loosen the cramp.
- Drink plenty of fluids – dehydration is one of the most common triggers for cramps.
- Avoid heavy or tucked-in bedding which push your feet downward when you sleep. Loose sheets and / or a duvet will allow your feet movement while you sleep. Be sure you have enough coverings to keep you warm as well.
- Breathe. It is natural to want to hold your breath when you’re in pain but fear = tension = pain so if you can keep breathing, ideally with a longer out breath than in (in for 4 out for 8), it will send a signal to your body that it is safe to relax.
- Add more magnesium and zinc to your diet (for e.g. nuts and seeds). Epsom salts in your bath allows you to draw magnesium in through the skin and there are also some great magnesium body butters and oils and oils on the market. Top tip – if your skin tingles when you use them it means your magnesium was in need of a boost.
- Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain which has been shown to reduce pain and aid in muscle relaxation. Pina Colada anyone?
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods – a meal of salmon, sauteed greens and eggs packs an anti-inflammatory punch and will also boost your calcium and omega-3 levels making sure your muscles, joints and bones are in good shape.
Do you have any other tips that have helped you with cramps? We’d love you to share them in the comments.
with love – Donna xox