Alleviate Muscle Cramps in Pilates
Jul 23 2007
Some of my clients get muscle cramps (particularly in the calf and foot), and it really kills them when doing the footwork series on the reformer. Our feet do have twenty something muscles and it doesn’t surprise me that the feet might tend to grip initially when learning such an exercise.
With everyone so busy these days, the hour we have to do our pilates exercises becomes very valuable time. I want you to spend that time doing pilates, not waiting for a calf or foot cramp to subside. These are things that I recommend my clients do to avoid or minimize any muscle cramping.
Why Do We Get Muscle Cramps in Pilates
Muscle cramping can be pointed to several things:
- Lack of sodium
- Lack of magnesium
- Lack of potassium
What Can You Do to Alleviate Muscle Cramps
So this gets quite simple. In the morning I recommend drinking a glass or two of water, yes even before your cup-of-Joe. I do this myself and it really helps to start my day out with a hydrated body. I feel that I “get going” faster. I then have tea (yes… you could have your coffee now) once I have had the water. However, if you are a coffee drinker it is important that you realize that coffee will dehydrate your body, so you need to replenish fluid after the coffee as well.
I also recommend my clients have a glass of water before their session. Now, don’t drink it immediately before the lesson because you will spend your hour running back and forth from the reformer to the bathroom. I also recommend bringing some water to the workout for continual sipping.
Key point, do what you need to do to stay hydrated.
If you must have coffee or tea in your day, try to avoid drinking before your pilates workout as it can advance dehydration which could bring on that hated muscle cramping.
Now, with hydration out of the way… you could be lacking sodium, potassium, or magnesium. I would not go buy a pill for any of those things, I would simply try eating a piece of food, that has those things in it, near a workout. Looking at the USDA release of foods high in Magnesium and Potassium, these are some which are easy to tote around.
Eat Foods High in Magnesium*
Banana 34 mg
Dried Figs 44mg
Black Beans 120 mg
Cashews 148 mg
Pumpkin Seeds 151 mg
Almonds 156 mg
Whole Wheat Flour 166 mg
My favorite is a banana, though seemingly lower in magnesium than the others on the list. I find that a banana, about thirty minutes before a workout, does the trick to help tight/stiff muscles which are prone to cramping.
A banana is also high in potassium, so you get two benefits with this one! The best thing is that a banana is very low maintenance.
Eat Foods High in Potassium*
Banana: 467 mg
Orange Juice: 496 mg
Tomato Juice: 535 mg
Dates: 542 mg
Raisins: 544 mg
Dried Apricots: 814 mg
Eat Healthy Foods Containing Sodium
Sources of sodium would be tomato juice or other lightly salted things like bean chips or blue corn chips.
Another idea is a sports drink which contains water for hydration and other electrolytes to balance out your body to prevent muscle cramping.
I tend to opt for the sports drinks at health food stores to prevent the consumption of artificial favoring and coloring. Make sure to read labels, no matter where you decide to buy your sports drink. You are looking for electrolytes.
* Magnesium and Sodium, especially, are present in unhealthy foods like fast food. I have left these off of the chart. The large number differences in mg of the potassium foods and the magnesium foods is because the daily recommended number, in mg, is higher for potassium than it is of magnesium - as recommended by the USDA.
Do remember I am not a medical doctor nor a dietitian. These are simply recommendations for you to try - coming from my research and experience.
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