Anyone who’s done any sort of physical activity has probably experienced muscle cramps or stiffness. Whether it be from exercise or any other task that requires physical labour, muscle cramps and stiffness can be uncomfortable and painful. That’s why coaches, trainers, and doctors always remind us to stretch and stay hydrated as cramps can also occur without physical exertion.
While stretching and hydration do help prevent and reduce the possibility of cramps from happening, they may not be enough. Magnesium is worth considering if you’re doing all the right things and still experiencing muscle spasms and cramps.
Magnesium is a mineral involved in so many processes in your body. Most importantly, it helps relieve and prevent muscle cramps and soreness. Here are some frequently asked questions about magnesium supplementation:
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on magnesium supplements
What are muscle cramps and why do they happen?
When our muscles suddenly contract on their own, they’re called muscle cramps (1). When we work out or do manual labour for too long (especially in hot weather conditions), there is a higher chance of experiencing these cramps. These unexpected and involuntary contractions can be incredibly painful when they happen.
Many factors can cause muscle cramps, some of which include overworking and overusing our muscles, which can result in a build-up of lactic acid. Some medications can also cause muscle cramps because they reduce the supply of vital minerals in our body that are responsible for relaxing our muscles. These minerals do a lot to fight off cramping and soreness. Among these minerals is magnesium. Magnesium helps relax our muscles, relieve muscle fatigue, and fight off the buildup of lactic acid in our bodies (4).
While experiencing these cramps usually isn’t anything serious or life-threatening (and they don’t often last long), cramps can hinder us from completing our workouts or any physical activities. To reduce the incidence of muscle cramps, consider increasing your sources of magnesium through diet and supplementation.
What are some magnesium supplement benefits?
Magnesium is a mineral that is responsible for multiple processes in our bodies (3). It is present in our muscles and is necessary for the contraction and relaxation of these muscles (2, 3). When there isn’t enough magnesium, muscles might not properly relax, or suddenly tighten up, leading to cramps.
Magnesium also aids in reducing and delaying the accumulation of lactate in our muscles (4). When too much lactate builds up in our muscles, it can lead to tightness. This is why our muscles feel sore especially after a rigorous sweat session. As magnesium reduces the amount of lactate that builds up in our muscles, we can recover more quickly and that makes it easier to do another workout the following day.
Making sure you have enough levels of magnesium in your body is a great way to not only prevent cramps but also to increase exercise effectiveness. It goes without saying that the more we exercise, the more we need magnesium (4).
What foods are a good source of magnesium?
The easiest way to get magnesium into our system is by consuming it through food. Adding these food items into our diet is a surefire way to keep our cramps low and our gains high.
Here are some magnesium-rich food choices5:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Brown rice
Including these foods as part of your healthy diet can help you steer clear of magnesium deficiency.
How else can you get your magnesium fix?
Food is not the only way we can add magnesium into our bodies. Here are other methods that you can consider:
- Magnesium oils and sprays
Magnesium oils and sprays work by topically applying a concentrated dose of magnesium to the skin. This can be another way to introduce magnesium to your system if you are on a diet or if you have to cut back on eating food (7).
- Magnesium baths
Much like magnesium oils, magnesium baths work by directly applying magnesium onto your skin. Only this time, you do it by taking a bath. Not only is this incredibly relaxing, it also helps relieve tension and soreness that your muscles might be experiencing (6).
- Magnesium supplements
Those who perform heavy exercise routines could benefit from magnesium supplements (4). Supplementation can also benefit those who feel like they aren’t getting sufficient magnesium in their diets.
Adequate magnesium intake through food and supplementation is an integral part of muscle management and reduced cramping. Fewer cramps, aches and spasms day-to-day means we can progress in workouts and remain mobile, healthy and fit throughout our lives.
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Learn more about areas that magnesium can help you with, plus other supplements that can benefit in different ways:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- Muscle Cramp (2021), Retrieved August 1, 2021 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/syc-20350820
- Magnesium and Implications on Muscle Function ( n.a. ), Retrieved August 1, 2021 from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/fulltext/2010/02000/magnesium_and_implications_on_muscle_function.7.aspx
- What You Should Know About Magnesium (2017), Retrieved August 1, 2021 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-you-should-know-about-magnesium2
- Can Magnesium Enhance Exercise Performance (2017), Retrieved August 1, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622706/
- Foods High in Magnesium (2021), Retrieved August 1, 2021 from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/foods-high-in-magnesium
- 7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Epsom Salt (2018), Retrieved August 1, 2021 from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-epsom-salt/
- Effects of Transdermal Magnesium Chloride on Quality of Life for Patients with Fibromyalgia: A Feasible Study (2015), Retrieved August 16, 2021 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26343101/