How to Find Relief from Leg Cramps

Last week on our blog we talked about ways to avoid painful leg cramps. Well, this week it seemed appropriate to address when all that prevention fails, and we still get a cramp. How do we lessen the pain especially when they happen late at night, while we are sleeping? Here are a few home remedies and suggestions that might help.

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First, soak your foot and leg in an Epsom salt bath. Put warm water in a bin and add 2 cups of Epsom salt, then stir to dissolve. Soak in the bath for around 20 minutes and it should help loosen up that cramp. This remedy is not recommended for people with certain health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Second, apply heat or cold. Both temperatures can be helpful in relaxing a seized up muscle. You can even use Zim’s Max Freeze Cooling Liquid to provide deep pain relief at the heart of the muscle. Hand warmers or other heat therapy may also be effective. 

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Third, massage the muscle. You don’t need to be a professional masseuse to gently massage the cramped up muscles. Just rub the cramped area to get more circulation to the muscle tissue hopefully easing up the cramping. A professional massage may also be helpful to help avoid cramping in the future. 

Fourth, when you have a leg cramp it is best to keep moving as much as possible. By stretching and other gentle movements your nerves begin to tell your muscles to relax and the cramping should begin to calm down. We also recommend stretching or going on a gentle walk around the room until the cramping eases. 

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Fifth, drink lots of water and consider apple cider vinegar. Dehydration can be a cause of leg cramping so if we up our water intake we are less likely to get cramps in the first place. We can also drink more during the cramping to try and invigorate our body that may be in need of water. Apple cider vinegar can also help prevent dehydration and contains potassium which helps muscles function at their best. 

By following these simple steps hopefully we can help relieve the pain leg cramps can cause. There are also many other home remedies, which many people swear by, that can be effective. What are some of your favorites? We would love to hear in the comments section.

How to Avoid Leg Cramps

Here at Zim’s we work hard to provide the best pain relief for your sore muscles and joints. While this is very beneficial, there are other types of pain our muscles can experience including leg cramps that can be excruciating to endure and which may prevent us from exercising the way we would like. Luckily there are simple steps we can take to help us prevent leg cramps and be able to exercise pain free.

Stay Well Hydrated-

Experts recommend we drink around 1 gallon of fluids for men and 3 quarts for women. Most of us don’t even get close to this number and if we do it is probably sugary sodas which can deplete energy rather than hydrate effectively.

Stretch Each Day-

Too often people rush to get started on a run and they forget the essential step of stretching before starting and having a proper warm-up to your work out. Your body is not a Stretch Armstrong and needs time to absorb the strenuous activity exercising places on it. When we don’t warmup the muscles seize up and that’s when we get the painful leg cramps.

Limit or Avoid Alcohol-

Alcohol is a toxin for the body, and it makes organs like the liver work and gallbladder extra hard. If we can keep our drinking to a  reasonable amount than we will be healthier and more productive athletes.

Eat a Balanced Diet that Includes Sources of Potassium and Magnesium-

Whatever diet you subscribe to, whether it be keto, paleo or whatever, it’s important to remember the healthier we eat the better we will feel. You can also add supplements to your diet or try to eat foods high in potassium such as bananas or avocados.

Increase Your Workout Slowly-

If we are hoping to experience the adrenaline from working out it can be easy to be a bit overzealous in our exercise routines. This is why it is good to stretch and then start our routine gradually. With any luck our body will adjust and not begin to cramp up on us. Plus a slower workout can be maintained longer which can help us to maintain peak cardiovascular health

Everybody knows leg and foot cramps are a painful and challenging to experience. Your whole body seizes up and all you can do is to try and shake it off. Hopefully these tips will help you to avoid such pain in the future.

If you have any secrets for avoiding leg cramps please let us know in the comments section.

 

Make Your Own Healthy Snacks

One of the challenges of healthy living is getting cravable snacks that give us energy and taste great. We can purchase energy bars and bites but often times those are loaded with sugar and are very expensive. It’s not uncommon for an energy bar to be over $2 just for one bar and to have as much sugar as most candybars. I personally also find most of these powders and bars to have a weird aftertaste and to not taste very good. One solution to these problems is to make your own energy bars and bites. It can be easily done and allows you to customize a recipe to your taste and dietary needs. We looked at a bunch of recipes online and found 2 which are our favorites. Let us know your favorites in the comments section!

From Five Heart Home 

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup nutssuch as pecans, walnuts, cashews, almonds, etc.
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup raisinsOR dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup peanut butterOR alternative nut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

    • In the bowl of a large food processor, pulse the nuts until finely ground (but stop before they start turning to nut butter!). Add the oats, raisins, chia seeds, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the nuts; pulse five (1-second) pulses to combine. Add the peanut butter, honey, and vanilla to the mixture; pulse until all of the ingredients are well blended, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.
    • Scrape the mixture into an 8- by 8-inch baking dish; firmly press into an even layer. Cover and chill for two hours or until firm. Use a knife to slice into bars. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Notes

Recipe may be doubled and pressed into a 9- by 13-inch dish.

The nice thing about this recipe is it is a no-bake so it doesn’t heat up your oven and it is so easy to customize. You can pick whatever nuts you like. If you don’t like chia seeds put in sesame. Don’t like raisins? Put in any dried fruit you want. It’s a great recipe to have at your disposal.

 

But we don’t stop at energy bars. You can also make bite-sized energy balls. Perfect for an on-the-go healthy snack. 

From Well Plated:

Energy Balls

  •  1 1/4 cups-Rolled Oats — you can also swap quick oats or a blend of half quick, half old fashioned
  •  2 tablespoons “power mix-ins” — chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, or additional rolled oats
  •  1/2 cup nut butter of choice — peanut butter is my go-to
  •  1/3 cup sticky liquid sweetener of choice — honey or maple syrup
  •  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •  1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  •  1/2 cup mix-ins

And then the recipe gives tons of different variations from chocolate chip using a nut butter and chocolate chips to almond joy with coconut added.

  1. Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl: oats, power mix-ins, nut butter, sweetener, vanilla extract, salt, mix-ins, and any other spices you’d like to add. Stir to combine. If the mixture seems too wet, add a bit more oats. If it’s too dry, add a bit more nut butter. It should resemble a somewhat sticky dough that holds together when lightly squeezed. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set (this will make the balls easier to roll later on).
  2. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and portion the dough into balls of desired size. (I use a cookie scoop to make mine approximately 1 inch in diameter). Enjoy!

What about you? Do you have any recipes for healthy snacks you love? Please share with us in the comments section. 

The Struggle to Get Enough Sleep

As human beings we spend a huge amount of our lives sleeping, which is why it is so frustrating when we struggle with sleep-related issues. Whether it is insomnia or sleep apnea, struggles with sleep can impact our lives in many ways. However, there are a few simple steps we can take to help increase our chances of a good sleep.

  1. Try and develop a nighttime routine and stick to it as much as possible. Nothing helps insomnia more than having a regular bedtime and not letting that second wind of energy hit you.
  2. Avoid caffeine whenever possible especially late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant so it is great to get you out the door in the morning but may make it harder to calm down and get to sleep at night.
  3. Avoid blue light before sleeping. Watching our favorite show before trying to sleep may seem like a relaxing activity but it’s actually the reverse. Studies have shown particularly the blue light of handheld electronics stimulates the brain making it harder to sleep.
  4. Have overall good health. It probably goes without saying that a person who exercises regularly and eats right is more likely to have better health including in their sleep health
  5. Take a sleep apnea study. The only way to prevent sleep apnea is to first know how it is impacting our sleep. A simple sleep study from your doctor may be a good way to go and may arm you with knowledge. You may need to get a sleep apnea mask that helps you to be able to breathe freely.
  6. Use sleep medication as little as possible. Especially when a lack of sleep is getting very stressful it can be tempting to take medication; however, this should be a last resort as the effectiveness of these drugs wears off quickly and can become habbit-forming.

So there are some ideas for how to improve your sleep health. Let us know what works for you. There are many different strategies including meditation, calming essential oils and melatonin. Sleep is such a personal experience that it is key we find what is helpful for our unique bodies. Who knows? Maybe counting sheep is just what you need!

Bing Workout Videos

 

bingGetting in peak physical shape is challenging and most of us need a little help getting there. Here at Zims we are always on the lookout for new tools and techniques that can make exercising more effective and easier to work into our every day lives.  This is why we were so excited when we stumbled upon a new workout video feature on the search engine bing.com. This service is smartly designed, easy to use and full of free comprehensive content.

The first aspect you will notice at the bing site is the menus you can use to select the correct workout. There are 5 categories you can sort with: Type (strength, yoga, pilates), Level (beginner, intermediate, advanced), Target Areas (18 different body areas listed such as quads, arms and total body), Focus (11 focuses are listed such as cardio, muscle endurance, power), and finally gender.Do-the-Kettlebell-1-Minute-Burn-Fat-Exercise-Step-7

These categories allow me to set up the perfect workout for me. For example, if I am a woman who wants to do yoga I can select beginner, target areas, flexibility and female and come up with over 30 workouts which fit my specific criteria. And don’t forget this is all completely free!

These videos can vary from 5 to 30 minutes and have a variety of different hosts (most seem to have been made in 2017).

In addition to the videos bing gives you a search engine page full of links associated with the workout you have chosen. In the query results you’ll find everything from scientific articles to additional exercise routines from sites like gaiam.com.

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Whether you are a new or experienced athlete bing.com’s exercise service is a tremendous resource to help you get the right workout routine for you and like I said early: It’s all free!! Please take a look at the site and let us know what you think of it. Does it help you to have a more effective workout or does it not work for your needs? We’d love to hear your experience. Happy exercising!