Back in June I was talking to some family friends that mentioned they get cramps in their lower legs. This is an issue that I know plagues a lot of people and it wakes them up in the night. Nobody needs an interruption in their beauty sleep, so I am here to give you all the info you need to know about why you can get a cramp and how to stop it with diet and movement. All the information about nutrition was taken from Healing With Whole Foods which is an amazing resource for nutrition and healing the body.
Excess sodium: In your body, there is a relationship between potassium and sodium and too much of one depletes the other. If your diet is high in sodium, you definitely want to remember that moderation is key, but you also want to increase your intake of potassium-rich foods. Bananas, raisins, dates, leafy greens, potatoes, and legumes are some great sources.
Lack of magnesium: If your diet is high in refined foods, you may be deficient in magnesium. Magnesium relaxes muscles while calcium contracts them. Cramps (as well as migraines) can arise from erratic changes in your activity or stress levels. Foods high in magnesium are beans, peas, lentils, seeds, add leafy greens.
Stagnation: The blood and lymph can pool or stay in the lower legs if your have poor circulation, sedentary lifestyle, or if you exercise, don't cool down, and then sit for a long period. A simple fix for this is to lay on the floor and put your legs up against the wall. Your butt should touch or be close to the wall as well. Stay here for 5-10 minutes to allow for some reverse circulation. Blood is a healing agent in the body, so in order for it to help, you gotta keep it moving! I recommend doing this at the end of the day and doing some belly breathing while your at it to calm the body and mind before rest.
What to do if you get a cramp:
Muscles that oppose each other can't contract at the same time. Therefore, you want to contract the opposite muscle so that the contracted/cramping muscle can release.
If you feel a cramp in the back of the lower leg (calf) flex the foot and resist that action with your hand just like the picture above. If the cramp is really intense and you can't focus on anything but the pain, have someone else push down on the top of your foot while you are pushing against them. It may take a couple of seconds and continue to hurt, but eventually (and with the breath) the muscle that is cramping will release.
*If you haven't signed up for my workshop on the 28th, you still have time! We will be talking about plantar fascitis, the pelvic floor, and lots of connections in the body. It's a great way to understand how to help yourself if you are in pain and have fun doing it! Here is the link to purchase and make sure to email me if you are bringing a friend so you can both get a discount! Hope to see you there! :)
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