Thursday, August 16, 2007

Leg cramps bothering you?

Stay Hydrated! It is not well known exactly how dehydration and muscle cramping are related, but it is known that dehydration can predispose to leg cramps. Drink at least three full glasses of water each day, including one before bedtime. Also drink plenty of fluid before, during, and after exercise.

Certain drugs, such as diuretics have also been cited as a cause of leg cramps.

Stretching your calves regularly during the day and at night will help. You can often prevent night cramps by exhausting the stretch reflex before you go to bed by stretching your calf muscles with wall pushups and applying a heating pad for 10 minutes before going to bed. Keeping blankets loose at the foot of the bed will help prevent unnatural positioning of your feet and toes which can cause night time cramping.

There is some information suggesting that milk may make leg cramps worse due to an underlying calcium deficiency. Milk does not make a good calcium replacement source because of the amount of phosphorus it contains.

It's also worth noting that vitamin D is required in order for calcium to be absorbed into bone. We make our own vitamin D in response to bright sunlight passing through the skin ... minimum of one hour a day is required. This is fine in the summer, but if you're indoors a lot in winter, or there's little sunshine ... you might consider taking a supplement, such as cod liver oil. Vitamin D is added to liquid milk products, and dry skim milk powder, but milk is too high in carbs for a sufficient amount of the vitamin to be consumed. And cheese, cream, yogurt ... other dairy products ... do NOT have vit. D added. Adults up to age 50 need 200 units per day; over 50 yrs, the recommendation is 400 units.

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