Occasional muscle cramps among the sports people and those who are involved in strenuous exercises is a normal occupational hazard.
It can cause severe pain and moving that muscle temporarily can become almost impossible.
This generally happens when a long strenuous activity is done in a hot climate. You may get dehydrated and lose minerals like potassium and magnesium. Potassium is an essential mineral which communicates between muscles and nerves.
Consumption of food rich in potassium and sports drinks containing potassium and other materials help to reduce pain and relieve muscle cramps.
Table of Contents
- What is a Muscle Cramp?
- How Potassium Helps to Relieve Muscle Cramps
- 3 Ways to Treat Muscle Cramps with Potassium Rich Foods
- Potassium Rich Food Items to Prevent Muscle Cramps
- Other Tips and Precautions
Muscle cramp is an involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles that occurs suddenly.
According to the Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons deficiency of potassium plays an important role in sudden muscle contraction leading to leg cramps when involved in physical activities.
The commonly known causes of muscle cramps are as under.
- Strenuous physical activity for long periods
- Holding a specific position for prolonged period
- Hot weather conditions
- Underlying medical conditions such as arteriosclerosis and nerve compression in the spine
Most muscle cramps generally occur after a physical activity but some happen while in rest. You may wake up with muscle cramps.
Both require different treatment. Muscle pain after rest generally indicates magnesium deficiency.
Our focus in this article is on muscle pains caused by strenuous physical activities which can be treated with potassium intake.
Most of these symptoms are temporary.
- Sudden sharp pains
- Formation of hard lump of the muscle
If muscle cramps are happening frequently, swelling and redness is experienced or it doesn't improve with self care then you should consult a doctor.
Following conditions can increase your risks of developing muscle cramps.
- Strenuous activities
- Old age
- Disorders of nerves
- Thyroid malfunction
- Liver disorder
Potassium regulates the muscle contraction activities that cause the cramps.
It maintains the electrical activity of the cells in the body. Cells with high electrical activity between nerves and muscles get affected when potassium levels fall.
In order to understand the importance of potassium for muscle activities you need to realize that about 98% of the potassium in your body resides in your cells of which 80% is in your muscle cells.
Any depletion in potassium levels in the muscles will cause contractions leading to cramps. That is why replenishment of potassium relieves muscle cramps.
The goal is to consume potassium so that a quick relief is obtained. You can do it in many ways. 3 easy and effective ways are listed below.
Unlike normal salt (sodium chloride), pink Himalayan salt is rich in potassium, magnesium and many other minerals.
- Take glass of water
- Add 1 teaspoon of pink himalayan salt
- Add 1 teaspoon of honey
- Squeeze juice of half lemon in the glass
- Mix all well
- Sip and enjoy the drink
Orange and Grapefruit both are potassium rich fruits. Their juice does two important things to relieve muscle cramps by replenishing potassium and fluids.
- Pour 2 parts of freshly squeezed orange juice with one part of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice in a glass
- Add ½ teaspoon of pink himalayan salt
- Mix well
- Sip and enjoy the juice
Cucumber is Potassium rich vegetable with high water content to reduce muscle cramps.
- Wash, clean and chop 2 medium cucumbers
- Toss them to a blender to.make juice
- Strain it in a glass
- Add juice of ½ lemon juice
- Fill the rest of the glass with water
- Add ½ teaspoon pink himalayan salt
- Mix well
- Sip and enjoy the drink
- Sweet potatoes
- Leafy greens
You certainly can reduce the probabilities of muscle cramps by taking the following precautions.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty if water everyday.
- Replenish fluids and minerals during physical activities
- Stretch your muscles before entering into strenuous activities
Bottomline is occasional muscle cramps are normal. Most muscle cramps in strenuous physical activities are caused by dehydration depletion of essential minerals like potassium. Get fluid and minerals replenished to get relief from the agony.
If self care doesn't help or muscle cramps are severe, then consult a doctor.