Frank Mikulka's Weekly Fitness Tip
What To Do About Leg Cramps (June 7, 2005)

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I spend 4 to 5 days weekly at the gym, just added a spin class and am enjoying this healthy lifestyle change. However, now the downside: lately, 2 to 3 times weekly I’ve been experiencing painful cramping in my legs. Am I overdoing it? (Joyce, Smithtown)Answer

Muscle cramps are often associated with dehydration. Are you drinking enough water to replace sweat loss? Cramping is also related to overexertion, inadequate conditioning and electrolyte imbalance particularly: potassium, sodium and calcium which play a role in muscle contractions. Here are some guidelines:

  • Water – before during and after exercise session. 8 ounces every 15-20 minutes.
  • Calcium – low fat milk or yogurt 1 to 2 x daily.
  • Potassium - focus on fruits and vegetables, particularly bananas and cucumbers.
  • Sodium – even if your diet is sodium restricted, reintroduce a little salt in your diet.
  • Overexertion – reevaluate your exercise regimen – are you overdoing it and are you resting your muscles in between strength training sessions?

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