Muscle cramping, and specifically leg cramping, can be excruciatingly painful. The burning sensation that comes with involuntary contraction of muscles can attack a professional football player during a playoff game as strongly as an out-of-shape white-collar worker during a round of golf. It can also come on suddenly when a person is simply relaxing.
This kind of seemingly indiscriminating pain can be confusing, but it should not be ignored. Instead, you should try to ascertain its purpose and treat the issue. If the issue becomes persistent and the culprit remains a mystery, you should consult a health care professional.
Among the most likely reasons for leg cramping, these are the most plausible:
How are you doing on those 8 glasses of water you’re supposed to drink each day? While there is no real magic number, it’s true that water is important for your body’s metabolic health and general muscle and joint health. If you’re not nourishing your body with enough fluids, your muscles won’t be able to get rid of metabolites like lactic acid that are produced by muscle use. When the lactic acid builds up, your muscles respond by contracting on their own.
To reduce chances of dehydration, make sure you’re drinking enough water, particularly during workouts. Even if this isn’t the cause of your muscular pain, most people will benefit from taking in a bit more H2O.
2. Potassium Deficiency
Potassium is a mineral, or micronutrient, that helps your body retain the important balance between acid and water. When sodium and potassium become imbalanced, they disrupt the contraction patterns of muscular tissue.
Potassium deficiency can be counteracted by eating potassium-rich foods or by taking vitamin supplements or vitamins that help increase your body’s absorption of the potassium you do ingest. “A banana a day” is a good way to ensure that your potassium levels will be up to par. Other foods to consider are tomatoes, figs, bran flakes, wheat germ, currants, raisins, and sunflower seeds.
3. Blood Flow Issues
Blood flow to the legs is an issue that comes with constant inactivity and aging. Since blood carries oxygen to the muscles, when blood flow to an area of the body is reduced, the oxygen is not able to get to those areas to remove waste products from the tissue. The leg muscles respond by cramping up.
Blood flow to the legs can be increased by regular movement. If you have to sit for extended periods of time, be sure to take a break at least each hour to walk around a bit.
4. Muscle Overuse
Cramping in the calf muscles can result from weaker muscles higher in the leg. Basically, the lower leg muscles contract involuntarily because they are constantly overused due to having to compensate for the weaker buttocks or hamstring muscles.
The clear remedy for a weak buttocks or atrophied hamstrings is to build up those muscles so your calf muscles no longer feel the need to compensate.
PhysioDC of Washington, D.C.
Daniel Baumstark and his professional team of physical therapists operate a boutique physical therapy office in downtown Washington, D.C. From athletes to government officials, and from ballerinas to corporate executives, PhysioDC helps people recover, strengthen and return to healthy living. Visit their website at www.PhysioDC.com or call them at 202-223-8500.
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