February 2014

Muscles cramps

Skeletal muscle cramps = painful muscle spasms, often in the calves and arches of the feet. Nobody knows the exact cause of cramping.


It is commonly accepted that the following can provoke cramping

Electrolyte depletion and dehydration
Muscle fatigue
Some medicines
Some medical conditions such as thyroid imbalances, kidneys infection…
Excess alcohol (dehydration)


To avoid cramping while working out

Drink (water or fluids high in electrolytes but low in sugar),
Don’t overload your muscles.
Massage the muscle
If cramping is bad, take your minerals (magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium).


Preventing leg cramps at night

Stretch your muscles before going to bed, hold at least one minute.
If you have been drinking alcohol, drink plenty of water to rehydrate.
Keep sheet, duvet or blanket loose to avoid pressure on feet.
Place a pillow underneath the feet or have your feet hanging over the end of the bed when you sleep on your front.
Use a pillow to prop the feet up in bed when sleeping on your back.


Quinine: It can help with cramps but only as a last resort, because quinine is toxic when taken in high doses. Its absorption should be supervised by your GP. Tonic water does contain quinine (and doesn’t require Gin in it) and is safe but often contains more sugar than quinine so is not very efficient at relieving cramps. You are better off taking magnesium which is a natural muscle relaxant.

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Migraine is one-sided headache that gets worse with physical activities and last between 4 and 72 hours. It might also involve visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, noise and smell.

It is very painful and uncomfortable but not damaging to the body. The body is back to normal between attacks.

I used to suffer between one and two attacks per month. I have managed it so I have now only the occasional one when I’ve indulged a bit too much (I have to watch out at Christmas for wine and sugar intake!).


Here’s what worked for me:


A migraine diary, where I recorded dates, symptoms and length of attacks, helped me find the pattern and triggers of my attacks. I noticed I usually got one when menstruating due to fatigue. Taking an iron supplement and making sure I was slowing down during the two first days helped. Each to its own though, we all have a different story. Find what works for you.


A visit to the GP to have the right drug prescribed, so I could stop the migraine ASAP. All over-the-counter pills like Migraleave didn’t stop the migraine. They actually made it worse as I felt more nauseous . Sumatriptan did the trick but there are many options. I would recommend seeing a specialist like DR Dominic Parliour at Parkside. www.drpaviour.com

There are also alternative medicines but I would recommend talking to a naturopath instead of relying on internet research.


Exercises and stretches to relieve neck and shoulders tension. Don’t underestimate the power of simple movements and stretches, especially if your migraines are due to stress. Check the earlier blogs for stretches.

Regular osteopathic treatments (6 months) to get to the bits you can’t reach yourself. The correct choice of exercises and osteopathy/physiotherapy is a great combinaison to get the best out of your body. A relaxed efficient body is less likely to let you down.

Cardiovascular exercise also helps improve your circulation so ideal to fight off migraines. You don’t need to run a marathon or swim across the Channel, just 20 minutes three times a week will do.


I found this little book very helpful.

by Dr Anne MacGregor (Family Doctor Series, ISBN 1-903474-04-3 – £3.50). Published in association with The British Medical Association.

You can buy it at a chemist or order it:


Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need therapists recommendations or any further help.

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