Cramps in class

Yeow ! Yelping and grabbing your toe is something that happens to some of us in class, so here’s a few ideas I’ve found to help minimize and deal with it, check it out…

Reasons for muscle cramps:

  • Dehydration-this can be caused by vigorous activity that causes excessive fluid loss from perspiration. This type of cramping during warm weather can be an early sign of heat stroke. Dehydration can also occur in individual taking diuretics (medicine that promotes urination) and poor fluid intake. Sodium depletion has also been associated with cramps.
  • Low blood calcium, magnesium: Low levels of calcium and magnesium are common in pregnant women unless these minerals are supplemented to the diet. Inadequate calcium absorption due to vitamin D deficiency, poor function of the parathyroid gland (a tiny gland in the neck that regulates calcium balance), and other conditions.
  • Low potassium: Low potassium levels occasionally cause muscle cramps, although it is more common for low potassium to be associated with muscle weakness.
  • Medications: Numerous medicines can cause cramps. If you are currently taking medications, please check potential side effects for this possibility.
  • Vitamin Deficiency: deficiencies of thiamie (B1), pantothenic acid (B5), and pyridoxine (B6).
  • Yoga Specific Reasons:
    • If your bare feet get cold after being crammed in to shoes all day, this can precipitate cramping near the beginning of the class. (get some yogi socks)
    • Locking the knees while over flexing or extending the foot interrupts the fluidity of movement and circulation. This can offset balance and put stress on the joints.
    • Gripping the toes on the floor in an effort to balance.
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Can poor circulation cause muscle cramps?

Poor circulation to the legs, which results in inadequate oxygen to the muscle tissue, can cause severe pain in the muscle (sometimes known as claudication pain). This commonly occurs in the calf muscles. While the pain feels virtually identical to that of a severely cramped muscle, the pain does not seem to be a result of the actual muscle cramping. This pain may be due to accumulation of lactic acid and other chemicals in the muscle tissues. It’s important to see your doctor if you have pain like this.

Taking Care of a Cramp:

  • Stop and Breath
  • Massage
  • Fluids and Electrolytes (especially sodium and potassium)
  • Stretching:
    • Moving in to Downward Dog and walking the legs can also help with leg cramping.
    • Sit in Hero’s pose. This pose causes the plantar fascia to contract, stretches the arch, and massages the back of the foot. (If unable to sit on the heels place a block beneath the hips.).
    • Stretch into forward bend, pashimottanasana, grab the toes holding them wide and pull gently back. Flex from the ankle. There is resistance but it will break the cramp. Once the cramp relaxes, repeat the exercise or posture. Massage the foot.

Prevention of Cramps:

  • Hydration: Drink lots of water.
  • Calcium and Magnesium: Making sure you are receiving an adequate amount is important. It is possible to get too much calcium and magnesium. The safest ways to increase your intake is through nutrition rather than supplements. Foods like soybeans/tofu, greens, nuts, and seeds are rich in both calcium and magnesium.
  • Keep the knees soft. Do not lock the knees.
  • Relax the toes. Believe it or not, you will be able to balance just as well without a yoga toe death grip on the floor.
  • Keep the feet warm, check out amazon, yoga mad, yoga matters or any sports shop for yoga socks. 
  • Keep practicing!

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