Muscle Cramps


Let the outdoor exercise begin!
It is so great to be outside enjoying the weather. It is just a fabulous time to start an exercise program outside, right? You can get out and absorb all that Vitamin D and fresh air that you were missing during the indoor months.
Here is the thing, you need to start out slowly and build your exercise program. Starting too fast can cause problems and those problems will make you want to abandon your new great intentions. So let’s take it slow and build up your body. You will enjoy yourself much more and you will see more out of it.
One of the first things that can happen when you start a new program is that you might get muscle cramps.
What causes a muscle to cramp?
You will feel a muscle cramp when you overuse or injure a muscle. Dehydration can also cause cramping. Sometimes if you have low levels of potassium or calcium your muscles will cramp. Some medications can cause muscle cramping as can poor circulation and kidney failure.
Muscles can cramp during exercising or at night. If you are exercising and your muscles start to cramp, it is a sign to cut back a bit until the muscle is used to the exercise. You should also make sure that you are drinking enough water while you exercise.
You can recognize that terrible feeling, right?
What do I do about a muscle cramp?
You know that dreaded feeling. You wake up during the night and you feel that twinge in your leg or foot. You try and pretend it isn’t happening but it starts to get worse. AND THEN WORSE. I think my least favorite is when I get a cramp in my foot and my toes cross over each other. Gives me shivers just to think about it.
I have been looking into remedies. Some are pretty entertaining and I cannot tell you the basis for some of these or why people think they work.
1.        Apply pressure to the center of the cramp. I guess it is supposed to help the muscle relax. It just sounds like it would hurt more.
2.       Apply heat to the area of the cramp to warm up the muscle.
3.       Apply cold to stop the muscle from cramping.
4.       Drink a glass of water.
5.       Take a bath in Epsom salts.
This is where we veer into Old Wives Tales (although it could be said that some of the first ones are too!)
6.       Drink tonic water. The reason for this is to drink the quinine. (make sure there is quinine in the tonic water you pick)
7.       Eat a spoonful of mustard. I was told this remedy in a locker room by an older woman once. She swore by this. I have since read it in other places. I don’t have any idea why this would work but it did not work for me. People swear it works instantaneously.
8.       Put a bar of fresh soap under the bottom sheet of the bed by your legs. I have not tried this one. Why this would work is WAY beyond me. The bar needs to be fresh and unwrapped. From what I could tell, that means that the bar is less than 6 months old. Some sources say that it should be Ivory soap and others say anything but Ivory soap. Some suggest that you use a lavender smelling soap to help you sleep better.
9.       Eat more bananas. (they are a source of potassium)
10.   Mix 3 parts vegetable oil and one part wintergreen oil.  Massage it into the cramping area.
So, if you find that your muscles are starting to cramp while you are exercising, cut back a bit until they are used to the activity. They adjust fairly quickly so just take it easy.
If you find that your muscles keep cramping and it happens frequently, it is time to see the doctor. The cramping can be an indication of a serious problem so go get it checked out.
Next week we will continue the theme of starting slow to avoid injuries. Stay tuned!
Your Pal,


The Foot Blogger Chick
Please take a minute to sign up for our email newsletter! There is a sign up at the top of the page.  We love our readers!  We really love our patients!

To learn more about Chicago DPM, visit our About Us page or Contact Us Today!