How did you spend New Year’s Eve?

I went to a dance party! First time I’ve been out on NYE for ages. Had a great time.

The event was sponsored by a local dance studio and held in a venerable old hotel that has a large ballroom with gorgeous draperies and chandeliers. The space was beautifully decorated with christmas trees, greens and lights everywhere. The food was excellent, as was the six-piece band. I thought highly of the cash bar, too.

The music was eclectic, but there were lots of vintage tunes from the classic Swing era, which meant I got to dance Lindy Hop and Charleston – all fast dances – a lot. The evening was a long one, at least for me. I was dancing, on and off, for five hours.

Which brings me to my topic: leg cramps.

There was a time when dancing that much would have had me jolting awake in the middle of the night with a killer Charley horse. If you’ve ever experienced one, you know they are  excruciating.

I’ve suffered from leg cramps for most of my adult life, in part because I inherited defective vein-valves from not one, but both parents. A couple of years ago, I had my nasty looking varicose veins treated via a laser procedure in hope of banishing the cramps for good.

No dice.

Happily, though, I’ve recently figured out how to lick those cramps. I’m able to prevent them 80 percent of the time and banish them fast the other 20 percent.

The number-one step you can take to prevent muscle cramping is keep yourself hydrated. I’ve learned through trial and error (and the medical literature) that dehydration DEFINITELY makes cramping more likely. If you’re going to be dancing or hiking, playing basketball, etc., swig water as often as you can.

Another thing you can do is make sure you have enough potassium and magnesium on board. Magnesium is a muscle-relaxer. If you don’t get plenty through your diet or supplements, the calcium in your diet will set you up for cramps because calcium supports muscle contraction. You need to be sure you counteract your calcium with mag. You should be taking in about twice as much mag as calcium.

Magnesium is good for you for several reasons. Mag will keep your bowels regular and is also something of a chill-pill; it decreases tension. I take 500 mg. in the morning and another 500 at night. If that much gives you the trots, cut back until you find the perfect dose for you.

I’m not sure why the potassium helps, but it does. You get that in fruits and potatoes, among other foods. Take a potassium supplement only if you know your kidney function is excellent. If you don’t excrete your potassium properly – if it builds up in your blood – your heart rate may slow to a dangerous level.

If you do get a cramp, get up, put weight on the leg, and use the following two products to relax the muscle:

Magnesium Oil Sport Roll-on (LifeFlo) – You can find it in many natural food stores. Roll it all over the crampy area. If you have a heating pad, use it.

Hyland’s Homeopathic Leg Cramp Tablets – Dissolve three tabs under your tongue. I use them along with the mag oil. You can find those in natural food stores, too.
Happy New Year!