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How to Eat and Exercise to Prevent Muscle Cramp?

How to Eat and Exercise to Prevent Muscle Cramp?

Muscle cramps are one of the hardest cramps to deal with. We need our legs to carry us throughout our entire day and a muscle cramp can take us off our feet and interrupt our usual flow. So here are my recommendations on how to stop muscle cramps immediately and build stronger legs and butt so that you can stop future muscle cramps from occurring.

1. The Immediate Cure

When we are experiencing a muscle cramp it’s often due to: dehydration, overuse of the muscle, and lack of using the muscle. The quickest way to cure your muscle cramps is to immediately massage the area and stretch those muscles. Once you are able to move your leg once again, head to the medicine cabinet and take an appropriate dose of anti-inflammatory medicine, such as Ibuprofen.

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2. Diet Helps

The next best step is to look at your diet! The top two contributors to leg cramps are dehydration and a lack of potassium. You should definitely increase your water intake. Especially if you drink a lot of coffee and sugary sodas, both of those dehydrate you quickly! If you struggle with opting for water to drink, take it slowly and increase it each week.

Begin by drinking your favorite coffees and sodas at meal times only. You must drink water in between meals and even create a reward system of “If I drink 3 glasses of water between breakfast and lunch, I can have that latte with my lunch!”.

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After each week, find ways to increase your water intake and swap out those caffeinated and sugary drinks more often until you find yourself predominantly drinking water. Water intake is important and changing our habits takes time and diligence!

Potassium is something we often lack and bananas are a fruit packed with potassium. However, if you are like me and do not like bananas, there are other options for getting plenty of potassium. Those foods are:

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  • dark leafy greens
  • mushrooms
  • fish
  • potatoes
  • avocados
  • yogurt

By increasing your potassium intake, you decrease your chances of leg cramps!

Try to work on your leg muscle to prevent cramps in long-term?

We can’t talk about building stronger legs and muscles without mentioning exercise. Building muscle is a fantastic way to heal unnecessary muscle cramps and melt away any unwanted fat. Here are the top exercises you should be doing each week:

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  1. Squats – not only do they target the hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps (the thighs), they target your glutes (in your butt) and promote muscle building in your entire body! Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly move into a squatting position and be sure to stick your butt out as far as you can. Keep your head up and looking straight ahead and slowly come back up. For an added bonus, you can hold a light barbell. Start with 20 each morning and increase by 10 each week.
  2. Lunges – the all inclusive leg workout. It targets the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, glutes, and adductors (inner thighs). With both feet together, take a step forward and drop the opposite knee close to the floor. The lower you can go, the better. Repeat by leading with the other leg. For an extra kick, hold some dumbbells. I recommend you begin with 10 each morning and increase by 5 each week.
  3. Calf Raises – These target just the calf muscles and are especially beneficial if you are prone to cramps in your calves. To do these properly, stand close to a wall that you can reach out and touch for balance (if you need it!). Lift one leg and point it behind you. Rise up on the ball of the opposite foot, as high as you can possibly go then lower to the ground. Switch feet to do one set. It is recommended that you start out with about 12 sets in the morning and increase by 6 each week.
  4. Deadlifts – one of the best workouts for targeting your butt and lower back! You will need a barbell, so check out a local gym or ask a friend if you can borrow them. Deadlifts are incredibly easy and if you haven’t done them before, start with a light weight and gradually increase when it is no longer causing you to sweat. You begin with your feet shoulder width apart. Lift the barbell with your hands on top of the bar and slowly lift them to a standing position. Keep your head up and shoulders rolled back, chest puffed out. Now to perform the exercise, lower the bar to just above the floor and keep your back straight and neutral. Then raise the bar back again into standing position. That is one set. Repeat 5-10 times in the morning. Increase weight only when the weight no longer challenges your muscles and increase reps 2-5 each week.

Many years ago, I had an unhealthy diet full of caffeine, sugar, and highly processed foods. I led a very sedentary life and found myself not feeling well and combating leg cramps each week. By changing my diet to high protein and fresh fruits and vegetables, more water intake, and regular exercise I was able to stop the muscle cramps and really start to feel good about myself. It’s been 4 years since I have had a muscle cramp with these very simple changes in my life. Take care of that body you have been given, it will love you in return for all the love you show it!

Featured photo credit: lifehack.org via media.lifehack.org

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Angela Kunschmann

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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