Muscle Cramps: for the most part we know how to prevent them, but we don’t always make the time to take preventative action. After multiple clients stopped to hold their cramping legs, feet and toes during our workouts in the past week, I figured this topic deserved a blog post. I in particular get them in my toes while I am stretching after a hard workout or in the middle of the night, but this week I had clients cramping mid circuit. So here we go:
- Are you hydrated? If you are not drinking enough water for you weight and activity level this could be your problem. So start logging your water. Try the app waterlogged to train yourself to make water consumption a priority. Plus, being hydrated will make you feel better, look better and help curb hunger between meals.
- Are you stretching adequately? If you are partaking in any distance running, HIIT Training, or cycling you need to stretch a lot! For example: the repetitive nature of running tightens up your hamstrings, hips and calves when you are logging miles. So stretch after you run and invest in a foam roller. Happy hamstrings make a happy athlete. If you cramp up while you are sleeping, stretch before bed.
- Are you getting enough potassium? People always think bananas when they are reaching for potassium, but potassium can be found in so many everyday foods. Try a baked potato (sweet if you are watching your sugar), avocado, raw kale, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, white beans, salmon, yogurt, the list goes on. Click here to see the Top 10 Foods Highest in Potassium.
- Are your sodium levels depleted? If you are an endurance athlete or a heavy/salty sweater, you may be deficient in the electrolyte sodium. This can easily be balanced by consuming sports drinks when you are working out for more than an hour or during extra sweaty sessions. (I am one of those salty sweaters. I always have a white film on my face and body after an endurance run, it’s a good look)
- Are you getting enough carbohydrates? You have to replenish your glycogen stores when you are working out for over an hour. You also need to have adequate glycogen stores before you begin exercise. If your muscles do not have fuel, they cannot perform optimally and you will cramp. You can replenish with sports products like GU or sports drinks but for the most part, a small snack an hour before your session will do. See my post on Pre Workout Snacks! Remember, fat burns in a carbohydrate flame.
I was feeling inspired by the muscle cramp topic and decided to make a potassium packed smoothie after my Saturday workouts. Here is what it consisted of:
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 cup of kale
- 1 cup of pineapple
- 3-4 stalks of celery
- 1 tbsp of chia seeds
- splash of vanilla unsweetened almond milk (or coconut milk)
The majority of the potassium in this recipe comes from the first three ingredients (Banana, Avocado & Kale). In addition, chia seeds are great for ridding your body of toxins. The gelatinous nature of the seeds help pick up unwanted toxins that are often stuck in the small intestine and reabsorbed into the blood stream. The key with chia seeds is to let them soak. A great way to accomplish this is by allowing them to soak them in the almond milk (or coconut milk) you use for your recipes. Fill a ball jar with almond milk and a 1/2 cup of chia so you have them handy in your refrigerator. If you need to fill up and feel good, I recommend making this after a hard workout or a weekend of too much drinking and eating out (sodium detox).