3 ways to prevent muscle cramps

3 ways to prevent muscle cramps

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What's the best way to avoid muscle cramps? Find out with these 3 tips from Australia Wide First Aid

Muscle cramps can not only hinder your physical performance during exercise or training, but they can also leave you in excruciating pain for some moments. Cramps can affect any muscle of the body, but are most common in the calves and feet. Many factors can be contributed to or adapted into your lifestyle to avoid muscle cramping, as detailed below.

However if you experience frequent, severe, or extended cramping, it is strongly recommended you seek medical advice.

The following three techniques may be adapted into your daily lifestyle to help avoid muscle cramping, particularly at the time of exercise and/or training.

1. Diet and dehydration

As we know, electrolytes play a key role in hydration. They are essential for retaining water in bodily tissues, including the muscle. If you are deficient in electrolytes, you may remain dehydrated and be at risk of developing muscle cramps, no matter how much water you drink.

Your diet plays a key role in making sure you have enough electrolytes to keep you going before, during and after exercise. Electrolytes are primarily composed of sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium, all of which play a direct role in muscle activity.

To avoid muscle cramps, adapt a clean and lean diet packed with the following foods (not just the day of or prior to exercise and/or training, but every day):

Potassium

  • Sweet Potato, including the skin
  • Banana
  • Carrot
  • Fish
  • Beetroot
  • Squash

Magnesium

  • Pumpkin
  • Nuts
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Beans

Calcium

  • Dairy foods
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Soybeans
  • Turnip
  • Kale

2. Warm up, cool down

Warming up is essential for many reasons; preventing injury being the main one. However, restricted circulation to the muscle due to lack of warming up, in addition to tight clothing or bands being worn are two direct factors which cause cramping in the muscles.

Evidence suggests that stretching to cool down can also help to relieve muscle cramps. You’re not aiming to increase flexibility with this type of stretching; you are just lightly pulling on the muscle to let the receptors of the brain know it is ok to relax. Cramps usually don’t last longer than 2-3 minutes. In the case of a severe cramp, the application of an ice pack may relieve the cramp and encourage the muscle to relax.

3. Fitness level

Muscle cramping usually occurs when you push yourself harder than you’re used to. It is important to work up to the intensity and duration of your exercise training. If you are racing, ensure your training techniques are similar in terms of intensity and duration too.

If your body has been exerted to a certain level before, you will be less likely to experience muscle cramps.

This article was supplied by Australia Wide First Aid

Australia Wide First Aid is a nationally recognised training organisation, providing the Australian community with accredited first aid training and quality first aid supplies. When you partner with Australia Wide First Aid, you can be confident that your first aid solutions will be delivered in a professional, efficient and friendly manner.