Painful cramps has happened to me many times in years of doing Pilates, Yoga, dancing and Ballet and it's usually my toes that cramp.
Cramps can just appear with no warning when the toes curl up and its agony or a shooting pain down the back of the leg and calf.
Having done some research I've come up with some ideas and solutions to try that might ease the shock and pain during your Pilates classes.
WHY DO CRAMPS HAPPEN?
When the body is exercising it needs energy converted from it's glucose stores to contract the muscles concentrically and eccentrically to create the movement to do Pilates exercises. Calcium is also released during the muscle contractions and, if too much is released then the nerve impulses keep firing to complete the movement. Eventually, too much carbon dioxide is released and not enough oxygen in the muscle and that leads to the cramping feeling. It's bit like keep keep firing up an engine until it stalls.
Here are some ideas that might help:
WATER AND DEHYDRATION
Try to keep hydrated and drink plenty before going to Pilates class, even if you don't feel thirsty. As we get older the feeling of thirst tends to wain. As soon the adrenaline starts rising at the beginning of class then your body will start using more mater to convert glucose to energy. So the body has to be fully hydrated.
During class take breaks and have a drink, you can always catch with the exercises.
FEET AND TOES EXERCISES
Try rolling your foot around on a tennis ball before class (if you have time!). Try not point or flex your feet and toes or curl your toes under during exercises and try to keep feet in the relaxed foot position.
When cramps do strike try:
Massaging the area
Walk around on the heels until the pain passes
Stretch the area
If the pain continues during or after your Pilates class then do seek medical advice as there may be an underlying health condition.
Cramps can be eased including the following foods in the diet:
Are great source of magnesium and calcium which provide 3 out of four of the nutrients needed to ease muscle cramps.
The humble Avocado is a berry that has about 975 milligrams of potassium and helps the muscles work as well keeps the heart healthy.
Yogurts and Milk are great source of calcium which is necessary to help convert glucose to energy when the muscles 'fire up' during exercise.
I hope these ideas help you to avoid or relieve cramp during Pilates classes.