Ouch! Cramp!

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Posted by Isabel Carter (Inside Out Dru Yoga) on 20 Feb 2015

Many of us suffer with cramp. It's more common at night but we can experience it at any time, particularly during or just after exercise or when we are cold. Here are some holistic ways of getting rid of this painful pest!

Cramp is a painful, involuntary muscle contraction, typically caused by fatigue or strain and an alteration of the balance of salts in the blood, lasting up to 10 minutes. Often occurring when we are resting and more common in older people.
Many things can cause cramp - medication, dehydration, over-exertion, pregnancy, alcohol, kidney problems and an under active thyroid. If it's more than a 1 off incidence you might want to get the cause checked out.

The first thing is to make sure you do plenty of stretching – yoga is perfect for this! Always stretch before and after exercise, to warm up and cool down muscles, improving circulation and therefore the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscle cells whilst removing waste products and carbon dioxide.

When we exercise, the build up of carbon dioxide is what causes a "stitch". Breathing properly, using the diaphragm correctly and breathing into the tummy, as we teach in yoga, will help.

• Massage helps to improve circulation and relax tired muscles.
• Make sure you stay hydrated and include the following vitamins and minerals in your diet.
• Magnesium - for healthy cell function & healthy cardio-vascular system. Found in almonds, seeds, brown rice, green leafy veg and dried fruits.
• B Vitamins - maintain a healthy nervous system, help build and repair the body's cells. Eat a wide range of fruit and veg, whole grains, eggs and seeds.
• Potassium & sodium - these 2 nutrients need to be in balance to maintain muscle contractions & normal transmission of nerve signals. Find potassium in bananas, green leafy veg, water melon and citrus fruits. Asparagus, beetroot, carrots, celery, figs and oatmeal are good sources of natural sodium.
• Zinc – needed for tissue repair and speeds up the healing process. Butter beans, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, cheese and eggs are rich in zinc.

There's also an acupressure point useful for alleviating cramp. Push firmly on the space between the nose and the lips, with your finger (sometimes you need to circle the finger around to find the right spot), just where that groove is right in the centre. Trust me ... it works!

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