5 Aug 11

“A muscle cramp, technically, occurs when your muscle tightens and shortens causing a sudden pain.”

I used to have severe leg cramps in the hamstrings and calves when I played football. I always lost a significant amount of water weight and the pain was extreme. Back then I drank water and salt tablets but it didn’t work that well for me. Back then you just took the pain or yelled loudly with a stream of well-chosen epithets. That didn’t work either.

Later on Gatorade was invented to resupply athletes with the electrolytes needed to allow muscle function without the pain. That still wasn’t enough for me and, besides, it has too much sugar-not good for your teeth.

One day during a hard workout, including sprinting, I had severe pain in both hamstring muscles that jerked me to a halt. The pain was beyond intense. I managed to make it to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. I checked the label on a milk carton, the only liquid inside.

The carton listed the nutrition facts; sodium 125 mg. 5%, potassium 410 mg. 12%, and calcium 30%. These are  three important electrolytes that help the body’s cells function normally. I drank an 8-ounce glass of milk and the pain level dropped dramatically within a minute and was gone several minutes later.

I now use it as a prevention. No more  leg cramps in the day or night. That works for me but each person is unique.  I once had severe leg cramps while sleeping on my back with several blankets. A friend told me to keep the blankets loose at the foot of the bed so my feet won’t be pressed down and put constant pressure on my calf muscles. It worked. A similar suggestion can be found in the link below.

There are a number of causes of severe leg cramps, including medical disorders. Senior citizens and anyone having frequent or severe cramping should visit a doctor for evaluation.

A common reason for cramps is because “an imbalance occurs when we have too much or too little of one or more electrolytes in our system.” That can happen from overexertion and dehydration. In that situation, drinking water probably won’t bring you the relief you need. But whatever the source of the pain, make the effort to solve your particular problem. It’s worth it.

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