ask our dietitian your question todayCramping Q&A cover photo

question-answer-color-v-2 I can’t seem to perform any leg exercises, including swimming, without cramps, regardless of how little weight I use. How can this be prevented? Am I lacking something nutritionally? Charles R.


Muscle cramps originating from a nutritional source could be due to an electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, low magnesium, low potassium, low calcium or low sodium. Vitamin deficiencies can also cause cramps, but are very rare. Other causes for muscle cramps may be due to medications, fatigue, as part of the recovery process following an injury, or poor circulation. The latter typically occurs during light exercise from the accumulation of lactic acid and other chemicals that the body fails to eliminate.

Adequate nutrition* and hydration, stretching and avoidance of vigorous strain on the legs can help prevent leg cramps if the cause is related to self-care. Check out our ARTICLE on hydration to see if you’re drinking enough. If you take medicine, thoroughly review its side effects. Most importantly, see your primary care physician to rule out blockage of the blood vessels (claudication).

* Good sources of needed electrolytes:

Magnesium – whole grains, nuts/seeds, beans, greens, meats, milk, banana

Potassium – fresh fruits and vegetables (notably bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, greens), milk products, meats

Calcium – milk products, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, soft-boned fish

Sodium – soup, canned vegetables, crackers/chips, cured meats


Check out this article for more about hydration and cramping:

10 Surprising Facts About Water and Staying Hydrated

– Debbie J., MS, RD

Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition? Ask our dietitian by submitting your question to or simply ask it in the COMMENTS section below.

To learn how to follow the “Ask Our Dietitian” Q&A CLICK HERE!

Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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