I’ve been having leg cramps over the last couple of days. I get them in the shins and toes, usually in the morning while lying in bed. I used to get similar cramps a while back but a year ago they went away. My theories for why they’ve returned include:
- Ill-fitting shoes. Last year I stopped wearing a worn-out pair of sneakers that seemed correlated with the cramps. I don’t know if that actually helped, but I note that I recently bought a new pair that I’ve been wearing quite a bit.
- Muscle weakness. I’ve ignored fitness for years, and am only now getting back into it.
- Electrolyte imbalance. A “usual suspect” whenever cramps are discussed.
- Combinations of the above. For example, my recent increase in exercise could have exacerbated the effects of shoes that aren’t right for my feet, and/or could be causing me to sweat out sodium that I’m not replacing fast enough.
In terms of the electrolytes, I was thinking mostly potassium for some reason, probably something I read. Last year I started using Morton’s Lite salt, which I’d seen recommended by commenters on Peter Attia’s blog. No idea if that contributed to the relief from cramps, but today I bought some more, since I ran out of my original supply a couple of months ago.
I have been salting my food generously to taste, since low-carbers tend to lose sodium, and in recent months I’ve gone even lower-carb than I had been before. I bought some bacon today (uncured, no sugar) so I’ll get even more sodium. Will see what happens.
[UPDATE: The cramps went away over the next day or two. No idea if it was the potassium and/or sodium that helped. I will also keep in mind calcium and magnesium, as my friend Chase suggested in comments.]
For myself, magnesium is proving to be the essential supplement to avoid severe muscle cramps in my quads while I’m on a paleo diet. So, I’m drinking a magnesium supplement in the morning and night, and only recently did I learn that the multi potassium/calcium/magnesium pill I had been ingesting can be a problem due to the absorption bottleneck between calcium and magnesium.
Links of interest to the above:
Thanks, Chase! (For some reason my comments aren’t being added — let’s see if that’s fixed…)
Yay, comments are fixed. 🙂