We all hate cramps, but what if I told you certain foods can aid in getting cramp severity to significantly decrease, just by eating right? I’m talking about all cramps, from your neck to your toes, internal and external. 

The most beneficial foods for killing cramps are high in fatty acids and vitamin D, have anti-inflammatory properties, and are low in protein. Although many of these foods listed can be used with other types of cramps, I’ve targeted the best foods for specific cramps. 

1. Neck & Shoulders

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Your neck and shoulders are prone to cramping due primarily to overexertion. Your neck is made up of vertebrae and shock-absorbing cushions called disks which can easily be thrown into spasm. For this type of cramping, try snacking on things like peas, soybeans, avocado, and whole grains like brown rice and cereal.

As for the shoulders, which often accrue pain in the rotator cuff, I recommend ginger and mackerel, as well as onions and asparagus. As with many types of cramps, you want to reduce your consumption of meats and high-fat dairy products like butter and heavy cream.

2. Arms

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Muscle cramps typically occur in the arms after strenuous workouts. Cramps here usually last only a few seconds but may be consistent enough to cause a distraction. For muscle cramps in the arms, the best remedy is in re-hydrating your body by drinking water or an electrolyte drink like Gatorade.

3. Back

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Inflammation is the most common cause of back pain, especially in the lower-back; and just like the cramping in the neck, may come from issues with the vertebrae and spinal disks. 

For back cramps, I recommend flax and chia seeds, and deeply colored fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, cherries, or grapes. Another food to beat back cramps are omega-3-rich fish like salmon. Foods high in saturated fats and fast foods fuel inflammation and should be avoided.

4. Stomach

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Stomach cramps are the most unlike the other types of cramps and mainly stem from poor digestion, food poisoning, or a stomach bug. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good food choices to help alleviate the cramps.

The best thing to do is eat lightly, as stomach cramps can cause nausea. Remedy foods include chicken broth, applesauce, crackers, and toast. These foods calm the stomach and alleviate any acid, which leads to less cramping overall.

5. Legs & Glutes

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Leg cramps are often related to exercise as are arm cramps, but cramps here may also occur due to restless legs syndrome, and a variety of other medical conditions including diabetes. For this, I recommend that you eat foods that contain potassium, such as dried fruits, tomato juice, citrus juice, melon, oranges, and bananas.

The caffeine found in coffee, tea, and soda can contribute to cramps by constricting blood vessels, so they are best avoided for leg cramps. For glutes, the best thing to do is follow the same rule for arm cramps – drink up that Gatorade! 

6. Menstrual

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For menstrual cramps, a good diet can be a life-saver. I recommend pineapple, hummus, kale, spinach, eggs, and dark chocolate. Who knew chocolate was actually beneficial to healing cramps and not just a craving?

Also, for menstrual cramps, dehydration can cause pain. If your body is dehydrated, it can cause an imbalance of electrolytes and minerals needed for normal muscle and nerve function.

All solutions – especially natural methods – for easing cramps aren’t so terrible, and you can even find remedies in everyday food and drink. Here’s to a healthy semester, free of any cramping!