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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.

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!”.

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:

  • 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:

  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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About Mysterious Everythings

Le Minh Hieu is a national-level weightlifter and a Singapore Weightlifting sports performance coach. Hieu's biggest passion is helping everyone find confidence, happiness, and health through fitness.