Coming back from pain can be a pretty heavy experience. If it’s leg pain, all the more so. Imagine how much work our legs do in a day, and you can see right away how recovering from a leg injury or even old-fashioned day-to-day wear and tear is a tough task.
Our legs lift our body weight up and sustain it whenever we walk, crouch, climb stairs, get out of bed… we don’t even have to run or jump for the strain to be pretty considerable. Anything from cramps to strains to overuse injuries to inflammation can stop us on a dime, and even start getting worse from there.
Relief comes in many forms, not least the traditional RICE cure.
R for Rest involves, well, resting the affected joint or muscle by taking your weight off it and not having it do much, if any, work.
I for Ice leverages the contraction-causing, pain-dulling power of cold; strapping some cold packs onto the affected joint or muscle can help reduce inflammation and soothe the pain.
C for Compression is best done with some wraps or compression socks or stockings and can have a noticeable pain-relieving, circulation-improving effect over time. Finally,
E for Elevation involves keeping the affected part raised, putting gravity to work for you in helping the circulation speed up healing.
Beyond RICE, though, there are lifestyle changes that can be made to improve your odds of getting back on your literal feet after leg cramps or other leg pain. Just making some smart eating choices can have a profound effect on how quickly your body knits itself back together and easing the leg cramps or leg pain into being a thing of the past.
SWEET POTATO SLICES
One reason cramps happen is a low level of potassium, and increasing our potassium levels can be done with this complex-carbohydrate-rich root crop. Just slice some sweet potatoes into round slices, and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper — or add some cayenne powder if you want to jazz up that mellow flavor with some heat — and roast for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. These are generally good for a spicy side dish, or an afternoon snack — but sweet potatoes can also be quite filling.
HEARTY LENTIL SOUP
Lentils, along with beans, provide excellent levels of potassium that can help fight cramps. Start by prepping 1 chopped onion, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2 diced carrots, 2 sliced stalks of celery, 2 minced cloves of garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 8 cups water, 1 teaspoon of dried basil, 1/2 cup thinly-sliced spinach, and of course, 2 cups of dry lentils. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large soup pot, then add in the carrots, onions, and celery, stirring until the onion is just tender. At this point, the bay leaf, basil, oregano, and garlic may be mixed in and cooked for two minutes.
Afterward come the lentils, the water, and the tomatoes. This mix is the soup beginning to take shape. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and keep the soup simmering for an hour. Then add in the spinach, cooking until it wilts, and then the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and, if you want, some more vinegar. One cup of lentils gives you 15/5 of your RDA of potassium — this doubles that.
15% of your RDA of potassium can be had in just six ounces of wild salmon, and this dish packs enough for up to four people (or 60% of your RDA of potassium, if you want to make all this for yourself — you could have one serving for each meal, or one meal a day for four days).
For that matter, according to Mayo Clinic, salmon is an excellent protein, full of inflammation-fighting, cortisol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids as well. This dish infuses it with pure citrus and salt flavors that balance our the fishy taste, and some fragrant herby flavor that works well with salmon as well.
This easy recipe requires an oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, 20 minutes of cooking time (and 10 minutes or so to prep), and yields a good meal for four. The prep time mainly involves a bit of slicing (the lemon), chopping and crushing (the herbs), and — well, that’s it, unless you want to do the fish cutting and breakdown yourself. (You can get the separate fillets, or have a full serving of salmon cut up for you, at the fishmongers).
Start with 1 and a half pounds of wild salmon (or four fillets of six ounces each), a quarter cup of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary that has been crushed and chopped, and one lemon, sliced into rounds.
Lay the salmon flat on a sheet pan, and pour lemon juice over it. Sprinkle salt and rosemary over the fish, and then lay lemon slices down on top of the protein. Bake this for up to 20 minutes. If you’ve got a cooking thermometer with a probe, check for 135 degrees Fahrenheit in the interior of the meat.
Who says leg pain relief is not delicious. You can always be creative in finding remedies for your leg pain. Try one of the recipes above this week!