Leg cramps are a nightmare – they crop up at the worst of times, causing pain and discomfort, and sometimes even seriously affecting your workout session.
When looking for instant pain relief or for a way to deter leg cramps from ever ruining your workout session again, the same recommendation may keep popping up for you – bananas.
Yes, apparently many people claim that this delicious yellow fruit is the key to stopping leg cramps from ruining your exercise routine but is that actually true? Are bananas good for leg cramps and if not, what else is?
Here we are going to be looking at leg cramps including what they are, why they happen, and if it’s true that eating bananas are a great way to reduce their effects and deter them from happening.
So, if you are sick of leg cramps ruining your day, then keep on reading to find out the solution to this annoying issue that plagues all fitness enthusiasts!
What Are Leg Cramps?
Leg cramps are a form of muscle cramp that occurs during strenuous exercise. However, they can happen at any time even when resting.
They usually affect your calf muscle (this is the muscle at the back of your leg below the knee) or the muscles in your thigh or feet.
However, the most common offender is your calf muscle – so most leg cramps happen when the calf muscle (or any muscle in your leg) shortens and suddenly becomes painful.
Your leg will become difficult to move and this pain can last for 10 minutes. Even after the cramp has passed, your muscle can remain sore for hours afterwards.
Leg cramps are harmless but they are painful and can seriously hold you back during a workout session.
While they can be relieved by stretching and taking painkillers to help ease the soreness, lots of athletes and fitness enthusiasts are constantly seeking ways to prevent leg cramps.
Because they are so common, leg cramps have a lot of different potential causes.
Overusing a muscle, being dehydrated or just holding a position for too long can all lead to a leg cramp so preventing them can be very difficult.
What Causes Leg Cramps?
Leg cramps are difficult to avoid so reliable methods when it comes to preventing them are very difficult to come by.
Professionals will recommend regular stretching sessions to help reduce cramps, which is why it is recommended that you stretch before you start your intense workout.
However, because dehydration is also believed to be another cause of leg cramps, many athletes and fitness professionals look for ways to improve water retention and balance the electrolytes in your body.
However, this is not scientifically proven – but making sure that you are very hydrated while exercising can still keep you in better condition for your session.
Because of this belief that electrolyte imbalance is a cause of leg cramps, a lot of fitness enthusiasts use ways to keep their electrolytes by consuming foods that contain minerals to help improve communication between your muscles and nerves.
Once such mineral is potassium – which is most famously found in abundance in bananas.
Are Bananas Good For Leg Cramps?
Bananas are often recommended to help prevent leg cramps because it is believed that the high amounts of potassium they contain can help improve electrolyte balance, which is also believed to be a cause for leg cramps.
However, there is very little scientific evidence to back this up. While eating a banana here and there won’t harm, there’s not very much out there to prove that they actively discourage leg cramps.
This doesn’t mean that you should ditch bananas. Bananas are very rich in nutrients and their high amounts of potassium are proven to help lower blood pressure, improving heart health in those who consume them.
They are very good for you and can be one of your daily sources of important vitamins – even if they are not likely to help out with your leg cramps.
What Prevents Leg Cramps?
Leg cramps can be caused by a number of reasons, so preventing them is very difficult.
If you frequently suffer from leg cramps during your exercise sessions, then it could be that you have strained your muscles.
It is best to rest your muscles for a while and take up more calf-stretching exercises before you start your more intense routine.
Such calf stretching exercises can include doing the classic downward dog yoga pose, the lunging calf stretch, and the heel drop stretch.
All of these will stretch your calves and help deter them from cramping during your more intense exercise session.
Also, remember to stay hydrated during your gym session. Not taking in enough fluids could be another reason why you keep experiencing leg cramps, so keep yourself hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during and after your exercise sessions.
So – are bananas good for leg cramps?
While bananas have a lot of benefits and a great inclusion to your diet, they are not proven to actively help prevent leg cramps.
Many people believe that they do because they contain potassium which helps balance electrolytes in your body, but electrolyte imbalance is not scientifically proven to be a cause of leg cramps.
So, because of this, bananas are not proven to help prevent leg cramps.
The best way to avoid leg cramps spoiling your workout session is to do frequent calf muscle exercises to help strengthen them and ensure they are properly warmed up before you start any intense exercise.
You should also stay hydrated and drink plenty of water during your exercise session.
However, these are not guaranteed methods that will definitely prevent you from ever experiencing a leg cramp ever again but they should help reduce the chances of you experiencing one while exercising.
Leg cramps are super annoying because they can strike out of the blue at any time!
Even when you aren’t moving and just sleeping, you can get a leg cramp – so it’s unlikely that we will ever be able to find something to end them once and for all.