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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

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Last Updated on August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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