Preventing Leg Muscle Spasms

Leg muscle spasms happen suddenly, causing a muscle in the leg to painfully shorten or knot up. The muscle contracts into a painful lump. These spasms can happen at any time, though they often occur during running or swimming, or while you're asleep. The treatment for muscle spasms in the leg includes rubbing in the direction of the muscle while gently stretching the muscle out. This increases the flow of blood to the area, which can reduce pain and help relieve the spasm. Here are some ways to prevent leg muscle spasms from occurring.

Before Exercise
Be sure you have adequately stretched your muscles before exercising. This will help prevent the kind of cramping that happens due to over-exertion of the muscle when it's tight. Limber, stretched muscles are less likely to cramp. Warming the muscles also tends to reduce cramping, so try a warm bath or shower before exercise to increase blood flow to the muscles.

Nutritional Balance
Studies show that deficiencies in calcium or potassium can contribute to the frequency of muscle spasms. Be sure you are consuming adequate amounts of calcium-rich foods, including milk, cheese and yogurt, as well as broccoli and dark, leafy greens. If you're active, avoid foods that inhibit the absorption of calcium, such as tomatoes and vinegar. Vitamin D and magnesium promote calcium absorption and are good additions to your diet.

Potassium deficiency is also linked to muscle spasms, especially those related to exercise. Include potassium in your diet by eating bananas, potatoes, prunes, dried peaches and beet greens. Watch your intake of alcohol, which can drain potassium from your body.

Proper Hydration
Dehydration is a common cause of muscle spasms. Be sure you have an adequate amount of water during the day. Try to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water with every meal and snack. Drink water before and after you exercise, and keep water on hand if you'll be biking or running for long distances. 

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