If anything is taking place in your body, that’s strong enough to wake you up from a deep sleep, you should be listening…
A nocturnal Charlie horse or cramp is considered somewhat common, so most fall back to sleep after the incident, without considering why they are experiencing the symptom and what can be done tomorrow to prevent it from happening again.
Like anything else, anything the body experiences that is uncomfortable, painful or generally out of the norm of healthy, should always be self-analyzed for excessive intake or lack of intake in the human body. Charlie horses are no different.
In recent studies, there does seem to be a spike in the night-time leg cramps during the summer months, so this issue could be one affecting a large number of people during this time.
Let’s take a look at some possible root causes and potential remedies for leg cramps:
Dehydration: The first and most relevant root cause to consider is water intake. Most individuals are in a state of chronic dehydration on a regular basis as it is, so you add the summer months of additional sweating, less food consumption (which includes water) and usually more alcoholic beverage intake and you have a perfect combo for cramping.
If you’re not drinking at least ½ your body weight in ounces each day, then you are in a state of dehydration. The longer this has been deficient, the more chronic and the more dangerous to your health, so start slowly. Add a pinch of sea salt or himalayan salt to your water. If you sweat, drink a cup a coffee or drink an alcoholic beverage, drink an extra 8 oz more of water. Make sure it’s fresh and clean, filtered water. Give it a couple weeks or more to become hydrated if you have not been following these guidelines.
Magnesium deficiency: Another major factor for cramping! Magnesium regulates muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure and if deficient in this important mineral, it makes it difficult for the heart to pump enough blood to the legs. Because our food sources are now also highly deficient in magnesium, it’s difficult to get enough from these resources. Here’s a possible solution: Take a quality liquid Magnesium supplement that can go right into the cells and does not need to go through the digestive tract. If you can find them, you can also get magnesium from quality, organic deep, green, leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, wild caught fish and cacao.
Salt deficiency: Salt has developed a negative reputation, but there’s a huge difference in the salt that you intake and salt is essential for preventing muscle cramps (besides a plethora of other bodily functions). Just make sure to purchase natural Sea salt or himalayan salt instead of white table salt and try this as an addition to your quality food.
Potassium deficiency: Works as an electrolyte and also aids in preventing Muscle cramps. Here are some sources of potassium; fruits like bananas, nectarines, dates, apricots, raisins or grapes, the cabbage or broccoli family of vegetables, oranges and grapefruit and saltwater fish and lamb.
Lack of Exercise: We know the general benefits of exercise, but in relationship to cramping, the following is true: Calf muscles acts as secondary “hearts” and because they are our slave joints, supporting the rest of us, their contractions and relaxations must overcome the force of gravity. The calves pump into the venous system, all the blood that was sent to the legs. If you did a lot of sitting in a day, you might have not worked your other “heart” to allow the necessary blood flow in the legs and calves.
Tight and overworked muscles: On the opposite spectrum of a lack of exercise, you could be overworking your muscles, and not stretching them enough. Especially if you’re a runner or biker where your are using your legs more than your upper body, stretching should be a part of your routine as leg cramp prevention. You can also give your legs a quick stretch right before bed.
(*The word possible is used, as the root cause and solution can differ from person to person and these are solely items for consideration and exploration)
Coach Seana – Holistic Lifestyle Coach / Exercise Coach / Practitioner – [email protected] / 203-885-0577