Nutrition and Muscle Cramping

Most clients that come for massage with the intent to relieve muscle cramping ask, “What can I include in my diet to help prevent muscle spasms and cramps?” Well, here are a few tips regarding nutrition and muscle cramps!

  • Can’t stress enough the importance of hydration! Similar to an automobile that can’t run without gasoline, the human body can not function effectively without water. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Water aids in the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to the body cells and tissues, it eliminates toxins, helps regulate body temperature, and lubricates our organs, joints, and cartilage. Our muscles are considered to be the “organs” of the muscular system. They are active tissues within the body that need water to function and move properly. If we are not getting enough water the muscles will not be getting enough electrolytes and will lose strength and control.
  •  Are you maintaining a healthy balance of electrolytes? Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are electrolytes that help control the fluid balance within the body cells and tissues while providing energy generation and smooth body movement.
  • How do I get enough sodium? Natural dietary sources for sodium include fresh vegetables, dairy products, meat and shellfish. Sodium maintains nerve impulses and influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles. CAUTION: Sodium is found in most processed foods, such as, cold cuts, cheese, pizza, bread and fast foods. If we don’t pay attention to what we are eating we may be getting too much and too much leads to high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, etc. Read your nutrition labels.
  • Where do I find potassium? Here are a few good sources; bananas, potatoes, avocados, carrots, spinach, whole grain cereal, milk, yogurt, orange juice, peaches, green beans, apricots, lima beans, nuts. Potassium works along with sodium to move fluid in and out of the cell and maintain healthy nerve impulses and muscle contractions. It also has an important role in converting nutrients into muscle building ingredients and fuel.
  • Calcium!  We usually associate calcium and its importance for strong bones and teeth, however, calcium also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, nervous system, and muscular system. Of course, we have our common sources of calcium; yogurt, milk, cheese, enriched breads, and grains, fortified juice and soymilk. Then there are some natural sources that we don’t think of right away, such as, sardines, leafy green vegetables, spinach, kale, turnips, collard greens, broccoli, chick peas, soybeans, tofu, almond milk.
  • Let’s not forget Magnesium!  Common symptoms of low magnesium levels in the body include: muscle spasms, cramps, tics, hyperactive reflexes. Great Sources of Magnesium: Halibut, roasted pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, baked potatoes with the skins, avocados, bananas, beans and nuts, Swiss Chard, artichokes, brown rice, whole grain bread, oatmeal, and yes, dark chocolate. NOTE: The average individual has low levels of calcium because it is easily depleted in the body.
  • What depletes the body of Magnesium? Mental & physical stress, coffee, sugar, alcohol, cola, tobacco, low calorie diet, vomiting, diarrhea, too much or too little calcium, too much or too little carbohydrates, too much sodium. WOW, ok. Balance is the key!!

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