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Exercise and Fitness

Charley horse/muscle spasms

12/20/2007

Question:

I get these about 2 AM on weekends. I exercise every M-F. I am in Silver Sneakers and have a trainer. Diabetes, High B/P which are treated by my Physician. A friend says this could be caused by non-dairy creamers. Any possibility this is true??

Answer:

A similar question has been answered by our panel of experts in the past.  I hope the following information provides some basic information regarding charley horse/muscle cramping.  If you have a specific dietary question, please send your question to the NetWellness Diet and Nutrition Experts.

There are a number of causes for muscle cramping: Over or under use of muscles, not enough warm-up before an activity, or lack of fluids, salt or other minerals in the diet. Minerals like potassium (bananas, dried apricots, dried peaches) and magnesium that come from fruit and vegetables are vital for healthy muscles, but these minerals are lost fairly quickly during exercise. Make sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet as well. This is easily accomplished with dairy products. Hydration can help ease muscle cramps, that is, keeping well hydrated vs. becoming dehydrated. Therefore, you may want to try drinking more water. When you are preparing to exercise, make sure you are warming up for 5-10 minutes and then stretching the muscles (3-5 repetitions and holding each stretch for 10-30 seconds, do not bounce). Repeat the stretches after your exercise routine also. If you experience a Charley horse in the middle of the night, try this: Straighten your leg and point your foot and toes upward. This should relieve your leg cramp. However, since this is happening very frequently, a visit to your personal physician may be warranted.

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Response by:

Carolyn   Nickol, RD, MEd Carolyn Nickol, RD, MEd
Director
Fitness Center at CARE\Crawley
University of Cincinnati