Almost any athlete is familiar with cramps within the active muscles during physical exercise. It usually affects runners, but also other intense physical activities such as swimming, squash or ball sports can lead to these painful muscular contractions. However, with the right diet you can prevent cramps.
What causes Muscle Cramps
Mainly an insufficient concentration of magnesium in the blood is responsible for cramps. Magnesium itself is a vital mineral that we take in by the food we consume. A deficiency can occur due to low supply or through an intensive excretion of magnesium, such as sweating, which results in a more spontaneous responsiveness of the nerves that are responsible for the contractions of the muscle, especially within calf and thigh muscles.
If cramps happen very regularly, put your diet to a test. Eat more foods that contain large amounts of magnesium.
Magnesium Rich Foods
The daily need of magnesium is about 300-600 mg. The following table shows foods that are very good magnesium suppliers.
|Food||Magnesium content per 100 g|
|Whole wheat bread||82 mg|
|Whole grain pasta||52 mg|
|Brown rice||68 mg|
|Sunflower seeds||420 mg|
|Pumpkin seeds||168 mg|
|Sesame seeds||340 mg|
|Mineral water||10 mg|
A balanced diet is a great prevention of muscle cramps. Compensating the fluid balance during or after physical activities with magnesium-rich mineral water is decreasing the risk of suffering from magnesium deficiency even more. Remember to drink one liter of water per hour of exercise.
Magnesium Tablets and Liquids
Another way to increase the magnesium intake is to consume magnesium tablets as a dietary supplement. These are usually available as an effervescent tablet to dissolve in a glass of water. A look at the packaging reveals the amount of magnesium per tablet; usually it is about 200-400 mg.
In addition to that, you can get magnesium in liquid form in a special ampule. They provide magnesium ready to eat and usually contain 25 ml of liquid with about 300 mg of magnesium.
Further Action against Muscle Cramps
If a cramps occurs, stop the the current activity o be stopped to stretch the particular muscle. There are two options:
- Active stretching by flexing the antagonist.
- Passive or static stretching by applying external forces.
Then have a slight relaxation massages to relax the muscles even more. Here it is important to act cautiously and gently, because strong external forces can lead to further muscular contractions.