Leg cramps, sometimes called Charlie Horses, happen when the muscles contract and won’t immediately release. The symptoms last for a few seconds to a few minutes and can be extremely painful. While they are pretty common, not a lot is known about them.
What are leg cramps?
These are involuntary contractions in either the muscle or a part of the muscle tissue. When they occur, common treatments are to stretch or massage them, usually by walking around until the tension releases.
What causes leg cramps?
The exact causes are unknown but frequently they are attributed to over exercise or dehydration. There is also no cure. However, there are ways to control or prevent them from occurring.
It is found that if you ingest foods with key nutrients, leg cramps will be less prevalent. These include potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. They are all electrolytes and can be found in a number of different food sources.
Bananas for Leg Cramps
Bananas contain three out of the four electrolytes that you need. They are loaded with potassium, but also provide magnesium and calcium. The average banana has 420 milligrams of potassium, or about 10% of the recommended daily requirement.
In addition to bananas, there are a number of foods that will help replenish this mineral and are solid additions to a healthy eating plan. Sweet potatoes are high on the list. In fact any type of potato will work. In addition, they have a high water content so it will help if dehydration is one of the causes for your leg cramps. Other choices are pumpkin, avocados, and watermelon.
How to Prevent Leg Cramps
Some other preventive measures can include adding regular stretching to your daily exercise. Sitting or standing all day can be a cause as well as overdoing alcohol or improper footwear.
Factors that can contribute to leg cramps are age considerations. It is found that middle aged and older adults are more prone to leg cramping.
So, if you are in the middle of a leg cramp, the best thing is to massage it, use some heat or try putting weight on it. Just be cautious of falls. Eating a banana in the middle of a cramp won’t make it go away, but as part of a healthy diet and exercise plan, it can act as a deterrent.
If you follow all the rules and still have severe cramps especially frequently, if they don’t dissipate quickly or are in combination with other symptoms, speak with your regular medical provider. They are linked to some serious conditions like hypothyroidism, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Only a qualified medical professional can adequately diagnose these conditions.
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