Got tingly muscles at night? Or foot cramps that keep cropping up in class? Worse yet, have you ever felt like there was a lacrosse-ball sized lump in your calf as your gastrocnemius seizes?
I’ve had all of these, and I actually used to get calf and foot cramps in every performance. NOT GOOD!
It’s possible that getting more magnesium in your diet could help. Now let me be upfront: I am NOT a nutritionist. This is a synthesis of my own research. Make an appointment with a registered dietician if you want a professional perspective!
Some benefits of the mineral magnesium include:
- Energy creation: Helps convert food into energy.
- Protein formation: Helps create new proteins from amino acids.
- Gene maintenance: Helps create and repair DNA and RNA.
- Muscle movements: Is part of the contraction and relaxation of muscles.
- Nervous system regulation: Helps regulate neurotransmitters, which send messages throughout your brain and nervous system.
If you have magnesium deficiency, you might experience some of these symptoms:
- Muscle pain and cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Restlessness and sleep loss
- Mood fluctuations and anxiety
- Confusion and memory problems
Now, of course, anyone can have this magnesium deficiency, aerialist or not. But since we practice intense muscle contraction such as in toe point, we might be a little more concerned than the average person about keeping cramps at bay.
If you want to up your magnesium intake, consider adding more of these magnesium-rich foods to your diet:
1. Squash & pumpkin seeds: 550mg magnesium/100 grams (131% DV)
Perfect timing for the fall and winter! If you are making pumpkin pies from sugar pumpkins, be sure to save the seeds and roast em! They’re super yummy 😛 (Hemp, flax, sesame, and chia are slightly lower but also good sources)
2. Unsweetened cocoa: 499mg magnesium/100 grams (125% DV)
Wow this is amazing news. I recommend adding cacao to a protein smoothie. 85%+ dark chocolate is also a nice way to add in magnesium.
3. Cashews: 292mg/100grams (69% DV)
I’m excited about this because cashews are one of my favorite foods. And I always seem to crave them more right before my moon cycle, which is interesting considering they are hypothesized to calm smooth muscle spasms AKA cramps.
4. Almonds: 270mg magnesium/100 grams (64% DV)
If you think almond butter is expensive, you’re right. I recommend buying raw almonds from the bulk aisle (with a reusable bag or jar) and snacking on those or blending them if you have a food processor.
5. Spinach: 87mg magnesium/100 grams (21% DV)
Chard, kale, and collard greens are also good sources. Cook with oil to improve absorption.
You can also supplement magnesium. I use the powdered form but you can also get it in pill form. I put a teaspoon in a glass of water and drink it for bed when I ramp up my training such as before a performance.
Next time you get a cramp, ask yourself: do any of these listed foods sound appealing? If they do, maybe that’s something your body needs.