Have you ever experienced the muscles in your legs go on a frenzy of spasms while you are running, working out, or swimming? This is caused by the tightening of the muscles in your legs or thighs. Once you have cramps, you need to rest in order to relax the muscles. For swimmers, it can cause drowning because you cannot move your legs anymore. Here are 5 ways to avoid experiencing muscle cramps.
- Train progressively
An excessive workout can cause muscle fatigue or tiredness. Be careful not to work your muscles beyond the limit. If you seldom exercise, you are more likely to experience cramps than those who exercise frequently. To avoid experiencing muscle spasms, you must work out progressively. If you are looking forward to joining a marathon of several miles, start running a few miles each day and increase distance as you go along. This will save you from getting cramps during the actual race. The same is true with swimming. Start a few laps and increase each day. This will help your muscles get used to the demands that you will put on them if you need to do several laps.
- Get enough sodium
When you exercise, you sweat, losing both water and sodium. Low levels of sodium can result in muscle cramps. To avoid this from happening, take sports drinks that have high sodium content. Look for sports drinks with 500-700mg of sodium per liter. Other foods that are rich in sodium are pickles and canned soup, tomato juice, cheese and other dairy products, pre-packaged cereal, and bread. Of course, table salt is a great source and you can get this from foods prepared with table salt added to give it flavor.
Aside from sodium, your body needs potassium, calcium, and magnesium. You can easily get these minerals from food supplements and from the foods that you eat. Foods that are rich in potassium are sweet potatoes, avocado, spinach, and acorn squash. Drinking coconut water will also supply potassium to your body.
For calcium, eat raw milk, broccoli, kale, cheese, yogurt, and sardines. These foods are rich in calcium and can help prevent cramps.
- Drink plenty of water
Sweating a lot during exercise can lead to dehydration. When your body lacks water, your muscles get weak, which can result in spasms. Always replace the water in your body by drinking water and taking other fluids such as soup and fruit juices. There are also fruits and vegetables that are well-known for high water content. Watermelon, for example, can easily quench your thirst and rehydrate your body.
Drink only to satisfy your thirst. Drinking more than what you need is not recommended. In addition, no matter how much water you drink, you will still get dehydrated and prone to muscle spasms if your body is low on electrolytes.
- Get enough carbohydrates
When you exercise, you need fuel or energy to keep your body going. Energy comes from carbohydrates and it lets the muscles contract and relax. If you lack energy, your muscles that have contracted might not be able to relax and so cramps result. Be sure to eat a lot of carbohydrates before you start your exercise. Vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruits, and unprocessed fruit juices are excellent sources of carbohydrates.
Remember that 60 to 90 minutes of exercise can consume all the fuels stored by your body. If you sense that you are getting weaker, it is a sign that you are losing energy. Do not go beyond the 90-minute limit when you exercise if you want to avoid getting cramps.
- Adjust to the environment
Cramps usually happen in hot weather. This is because you sweat more when the weather is warm. Athletes who have to compete in different environments are advised to get used to the weather first. Basketball teams, for example, arrive weeks in advance to where they will compete to train under the current weather conditions. As their body adjusts to their environment, there will be lower risk getting cramps.