Cramping your style

You were lying there perfectly sound asleep when out of the blue you were suddenly, and rudely I might add, awakened with an intense pain in one of your calves.

Or, maybe you were in the middle of your weekend long run and just hitting your stride when you were suddenly gripped by a pain in one of your hamstrings.

What you've experienced, my friend, is muscle cramping and it can leave you down for the count and totally incapacitated until it goes away.

The Mayo Clinic describes a muscle cramp, or muscle spasm, as "a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles." Muscle cramping can be brought on by dehydration, muscle fatigue, inadequate blood supply, nerve compression, and certain medications.

What can you do to rid yourself of these sudden intrusions?

1. Drink more water. Dehydration can cause your circuits to "misfire" causing your muscles to receive poor signaling. The general recommendation is 6-8 eight ounce glasses per day, though some dietitians recommend half your body weight in ounces.

2. Stretch. If your muscles are not at a normal resting length they can over react to protect themselves from injury with sudden movements. Stretching can help to return your muscles to their normal range of motion especially after exercise.

3. Watch your intake of minerals. Low potassium can be a main culprit in causing muscle cramping so you'll want to make sure your getting enough. Good sources of potassium include bananas, raisins, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, pumpkin, and root vegetables. As you may have guessed, generally the more processed the food, the less potassium along with many other nutrition essentials.

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