Cause of Foot Cramps

If you are experiencing a cramp, you will definitely feel the muscle contracting violently. You may even be able to see it. Other than the cramp itself, additional symptoms may arise, including:

Pain, which varies in severity and lasts up to a few minutes.
The muscle may feel hard and tense to the touch.
You will be able to walk on the cramped muscle.
Walking may decrease the pain.
What Causes Foot Cramps?
There are several common reasons why foot cramps develop, including:

Muscle fatigue or stress
Poor circulation
Vitamin D deficiency
Flat feet
and more…

In most cases, foot cramps are due to fatigue or stress on the foot. Overworked feet can lead to muscle spasms, especially if you are not getting enough water and nutrients. Foot cramps are most common among athletes and older adults, but they can occur to anyone at any age, including children. As we age, cramps become more common due to our reduced activity levels and the muscle fatigue that occurs when our muscles do not get enough blood.
Foot cramps can be a sign of decreased circulation. When the blood supply to our extremities decreases, the extremity does not receive the oxygen it needs to function correctly, thus causing cramping and pain. Medical conditions such as diabetes can cause foot cramps due to the lack of oxygen supplied to the feet.

It is very important that you eat properly and get enough vitamins and minerals. A lack of potassium in your system can cause cramps in your feet and legs. Vitamin D is also important to healthy feet and bones. Dehydration can also be a culprit. Our bodies need water and other fluids, especially ones that provide electrolytes, to function properly and supply blood and oxygen to all parts of our bodies. Smoking and using alcohol can dehydrate the body. So, if you are experiencing foot cramps and smoke or drink, you should consider cutting back on these habits to improve your situation.

Certain medications can also cause cramps. They include:

Furosemide (a diuretic)
Donepezil (used for Alzheimer’s disease)
Neostigmine (used for myasthenia gravis)
Raloxifene (used to prevent osteoporosis)
Tolcapone (used for Parkinson’s disease)
Albuterol, Proventil, and Ventolin (all used to treat asthma)
Lovastatin (used to lower cholesterol)
It is important to note that this is not a complete list of medications that may cause cramps in your feet as a side effect. You may also experience cramps in your legs, arms, or other parts of your body because of these medications. Talk with your doctor if you take any medications and are experiencing foot cramps. He or she may be able to change your medications to avoid this problem.

Foot Cramp Treatment
If you are suffering from excessive or continual foot cramps, you may want to see a podiatrist or a foot doctor. Your doctor may teach you proper foot-stretching techniques to help relieve the cramping when it begins. If the pain is severe and chronic, your doctor may prescribe you pain killers. Massaging the foot or feet regularly can reduce muscle fatigue. You may also want to consider lifestyle changes.

In many cases, simple dietary changes (eliminating sugars and caffeine while increasing your intake of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D) can improve the cramping and pain within days. If your cramps are due to an underlying medical condition, you may want to start by controlling the disease more effectively.

You may also want to try soaking your feet in warm water. Ice packs may also work. The RICE method is almost always effective for treating most types of foot cramps. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. Stay off your feet as much as possible and apply ice for twenty minutes at a time. Wrapping your foot in an elastic bandage can also reduce the cramping, and elevation should put the foot at waist level or higher. If elevating your feet increases the cramping or causes more pain, see your podiatrist right away, as there may be a circulation problem that needs to be examined.

To relieve foot cramps at home, try to:
Pull the toes upward if the cramp is in the toes.
Pull the foot region where the cramp is located in the opposite direction of the cramp.
Begin an exercise or stretching routine.
Wrap the foot in an elastic bandage.
If the foot cramps persist, you should seek medical attention. But if foot cramps are not normal for you and occur suddenly but only periodically, chances are you do not need medical attention and the cramp will eventually go away. Using heating pads and stretching the cramped muscle may help relieve symptoms more quickly.

Preventing Foot Cramps
Regardless of whether you experience foot cramps often or intermittently, there are several things you can do to prevent them from occurring, such as:

Warming up slowly before all exercise routines
Giving yourself a “cooling down” period, similar to a warm-up routine, after you’re done with exercise or activity
Drinking lots of water before and during your exercise routine
Eating foods that are high in potassium and calcium, such as bananas, milk, yogurt, cheese, and fresh vegetables. These foods are also good for improving muscle function.
Stretching your foot muscles before getting in and out of bed each day
Keeping a cup of water next to your bed in case you awaken during the night
Using proper footwear or orthotics such as inserts or padding to reduce stress on feet
Keeping your doctors informed of any medications, medical conditions, etc.
Making sure you give your body adequate rest each day
Talking to Your Doctor
Here are some questions you may want to consider asking your doctor about foot cramps:

How much of each nutrient (calcium, potassium) should I be taking each day?
Are there any other vitamins or minerals that may reduce the recurrence of foot cramps?
What stretches can benefit me most to prevent foot cramps?
What stretches are best used during a moment of cramping?
I know there should be a balance of salt and water in my system, so how much sodium should I be consuming each day?

Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256•

Tips for Traveling with Cats

Here are some tips from feline specialists to make traveling with your cat easier for both of you. Plan Ahead Provide familiar comfort. Brunt says that you can relax your cat “by having things with familiar scents from your home, their favorite toys and pheromone products.” If you have more than one cat, splurge on a larger carrier and put them together. That company means the world to your furry friend.
Clip those claws. Trim your cat’s nails so it doesn’t scratch itself or you. If you don’t know how, this may be best left to a vet, as it’s a delicate process most kitties fight. If you do it yourself, avoid the pink part inside of the nail — it’s flesh, and bleeds and hurts if cut!
Update information and vaccinations. Include updated identification on your cat’s collar or have your cat microchipped, so it can be returned to you if it gets lost. If you’re stopped for transporting cats across state or country borders, it’s important to have up-to-date vaccination records proving you’re not carrying diseases.

Plan for Car Travel

Keep your cat safe. When driving with a cat, always keep it in a carrier in the backseat, fastened with a seat belt or another type of harness to keep the carrier from moving. This way, your cat will be safe in case of an accident, and you will not be distracted by an animal wandering around the car. Letting your cat loose in the car is incredibly dangerous, especially if it’s scared. Cats gravitate toward low, apparently safe places, and can get into the undercarriage of your car where it runs the risk of getting burned or being run over.
Provide plenty of water. Traveling with a bowl of water in a carrier can lead to a big mess and one wet — and unhappy — kitty. Instead, use a big hamster water bottle in the carrier. It might take a few tries, but the droplet of water on the end is always a draw for thirsty cats. This also allows you to monitor your cat’s water consumption and offer a water bowl at stops if necessary.
Create calmness. Keeping most cats tranquil on car rides isn’t about entertainment, as it is with your kids. These furry fellas often won’t settle down enough to play on car rides. If you can house your pet with a sibling, that’s super helpful, but veterinarians also provide mild kitty sedatives that may work. Think cold medicine, not full-on sedation. This just allows your baby to relax a bit, avoiding the yowling so many cat mommies know and…don’t love. Also, don’t crank the music if you can avoid it. All of that extra noise just adds to cats’ stress.
Feed and food train your cat. Especially if you use any kind of medication to keep your cat calm, provide moist food you’ve acclimated him to for meals, instead of hard food. Cats are more likely to eat whole meals this way and less likely to be made sick by medication. That said, keep a mild cat-safe cleanser, plastic bags and a roll of paper towels on hand just in case kitty makes a mess. If you know your cat gets sick easily, talk to your vet about anti-nausea medication.

Plan for Plane Travel

Bring your cat in the cabin. Flying with your cat can be difficult, as it’s not safe to check pets in extreme weather, and they can get lost. “The safest and most humane way is to bring your cat into the cabin with you,” says Johnson-Bennett. Find an airline that allows pets in the cabin (which may include a small fee) and make advance reservations. You will also need an airline-approved carrier and a health certificate signed by your veterinarian.
Anticipate emergencies. Johnson-Bennett also recommends being prepared for kitty emergencies. “For the plane ride, bring extra towels to line the carrier in case the cat vomits or eliminates. Pack a few plastic bags in your carry-on as well, so you can discreetly dispose of the soiled towels without causing inconvenience to your fellow passengers.” And carry some cat-safe cleansing wipes in case of an accidental mess.
Traveling with your cat doesn’t have to be a traumatic experience for either of you. By training your cat and getting him comfortable with traveling, you can pop him in his carrier and go anytime. Use the tips above next time you move or even take kitty to the vet, and it will be a whole new experience.•


Monday 20th July 2015
The History of Christianity : Part 1 of 6 : The First Christianity
Diarmaid MacCulloch journeys to Turkey to visit
the remnants of the first Christian Kingdom
10H00 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-Ordinator: Michael Lond 044-533-0018

Tuesday 21st July 2015
Italian Conversation
10H00 at 12 Challenge Drive
Co-ordinator: Brenda Hardy 044-533-5489

Wednesday 22nd July 2015
The South Atlantic Islands and their conservation
Dr Anton Wolfaardt, working for the UK government as conservationist and will
present an illustrated talk on sea birds of Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica
10H00 at Formosa Garden Village Lounge
Co-ordinator: Christo Vlok 044-533-5155

Friday 24th July 2015
French Conversation
10H30 to confirm with Ingrid
Co-ordinator: Ingrid James 044-533-0212

Friday 24th July 2015
Mah Jong : Ancient Fascinating Game
13H30 at Formosa Garden Village Small Dining Room Co-ordinator: Ameila White 044-533-0113

Hiking in Knysna

Globally people are choosing to hike for various reasons according to the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA). These reasons include and are not limited to:

Losing weight
Can prevent heart related diseases
Decreases high blood pressure
Improves and maintains mental health
Slows the ageing process
The rest of world finds it fascinating to travel to the countryside and abroad. Knysna’s catching up. The Harkerville Coast Hiking Trail is one of the most popular nature walks in Knysna. It is a two-day, 24-kilometre hike, starting and ending in Harkerville. It passes through some prime examples of high-forest, crosses sections of coastal fynbos and takes the hiker along some breathtaking natural scenery along a cliff-coast. There are 2 main huts for hikers, the Harkerville and the Sinclair,

Recently 2 day trails were accredited with Green Flag status by HOSA. Perdekop and Olifants hiking trails or the Elephant trail. Green flag status is a global benchmark for hiking trails and includes the following criteria: Conservation status, health and safety measures, cleanliness and maintenance, sustainability, management and others.

The Elephant trail is in Diepwalle. Other Park attractions in Diepwalle:

Tented camping decks (Diepwalle)
Forest Legends museum in Diepwalle
Tea garden in the middle of the forest (Diepwalle closest to camping decks and the Legends museum)

For more information, kindly call 044 302 5600 or visit or follow us on @SANParksGRNP•

Twin brothers win the 2015 Knysna Forest Marathon events

The Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon and Half Marathon have been won by twin brothers and Tsepang and Tshepo Ramonene.

Tsepang won the 42 km in 2 hours 25 minutes 28 seconds and Tshepo won the 21 km in 1 hour 6 minutes 6 seconds.

Speaking after the race, Tsepang said he was very happy to win because last year he came second. “I trained very hard to win this year.” He says his best ever marathon time was recorded in Durban on 1 March 2015 as 2 hours 16 minutes 35 seconds.

For Tshepo (24) this is a new personal best. His previous best time for 21 km is 1 hour 6 minutes 56 seconds. He said that he found the race very easy, although the downhills were a challenge. He hoped to improve his time next year.

Second man over the line in the 42 km was Eric Sigxashe in 2 hours 34 minutes 55 seconds, followed by George Ntshilizo in 2 hours 37 minutes 41 seconds.

First woman home in the full marathon wasCandice-Lee Davison in 3 hours 23 minutes 5 seconds, followed by Ursula Edwine Frans in 3 hours 23 minutes 27 seconds and Helen Squirrell in 3 hours 23 minutes 36 seconds.

In the 21 km Etienne Plaatjies was second with a time of 1 hour 7 minutes 6 seconds and Michael Bailey came third in 1 hour 12 minutes 24 seconds.

First woman over the line in the half marathon was Rene Kalmer in 1 hour 19 minutes 9 seconds, followed by Andrea Steyn in 1 hour 23 minutes 44 seconds, and Charne Bosman in 1 hour 24 minutes 23 seconds.

Eight and a half thousand runners lined up in the Knysna Forest on Saturday morning in perfect conditions for the Momentum Cape Times Knysna Forest Marathon, the 31st event since the first one in 1984.The cool forest morning turned into a warm day with a gentle berg wind and protective cloud cover for most of the race.

Of the 1,100 runners who registered for the full marathon, only 615 finished the race. Race Director Leon Brown said that the 42 km is “very challenging but it’s also probably one of the most beautiful marathons in the world. It takes the runners deep into sections of pristine Knysna forest.”

The forest marathon is the biggest sporting event of the popular annual Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival. For many runners it’s a bucket list race and entries sell out fast. It is known for its scenic routes, the unique early start in the forest and the great vibe at the finish at the Festival grounds.

One of the race traditions, which is to collect warm clothing discarded by runners in the forest after the start, has recently been formalised by the naming sponsor Momentum, who Brown says has added huge value to the race. “Momentum now distributes 2,000 beautiful blankets to the first runners to arrive at the start and when they discard these, they are collected by the local Youth for Christ group and transported into Knysna where they are sorted and folded and then distributed to local impoverished communities.”

Danie van den Bergh, Head of Momentum Branding said that Momentum’s involvement in the race is not just about brand awareness. “We are privileged to be able to leave a legacy and a little warmth behind in Knysna every year with the distribution of these blankets to the most needy residents of the community.”
Brown said that the charity component of the marathon has two legs. “The runners have the option of donating extra money when they enter a race, but we also have 300 charity entries which are made available when entries close. The race is so popular that these charity entries go for an extra R500 and we collect R200 000 for our charities in this way.

“We also partner with the local Lions Club and Epilepsy Knysna and the money raised goes to them as well as into development running. With the race income and sponsorship, this is about R850,000 annually.

“The local taxis got involved some years ago transporting the runners into the forest for the start, because the turnaround time for busses made delivery too slow. Knysna has a very good taxi association and they work extremely well with the Marathon Club every year. It’s a critical operation involving 100 taxis – we fill a taxi every 23 seconds to deliver all 8,500 runners in an hour and a half! The runners feel that the taxi experience is a positive one, which is part and parcel of the whole Knysna marathon experience and we receive good feedback about it.”

For the full results of both races, go to •

Taste: It’s in your nose and memories

STORY HIGHLIGHTS We evolved to like things that are bad for us There aren’t particular areas on the tongue that exclusively perceive bitter, salt, sweet, etc.
Pregnant women may transfer preferences for certain flavors to the fetus Flavor preference can also originate in breast milk

It’s true that taste isn’t just about the way food hits your tongue; there’s a whole science behind how we perceive flavor and develop preferences for certain foods.
Here are some of the lessons from science that may help you think about eating in a new way:
1. You like what your mother ate
If you’re pregnant, you may be transferring preferences for certain flavors to your baby right now. The food you eat gets into the amniotic fluid and flavors it. The fetus can detect those flavors and remember them after birth, This also happens with breast milk when a mother nurses an infant. As children get old enough to eat solid food, they show a preference for flavors they first experienced in the womb.
It works for flavors like carrot juice, but not for something like salt, since the amount of salt a mother eats doesn’t affect the saltiness of amniotic fluid or breast milk. It’s actually the smell component of flavors that gets transferred. Mothers can enhance a child’s liking for healthy foods such as vegetables by eating them while pregnant and nursing.
In general, experience informs taste preferences, so if you know you’ve liked salty foods in the past, you’re going to want them again. If everyone collectively moves toward a low-salt diet, people will begin to crave it less.
And these preferences can begin from infancy. Babies fed starchy table foods high in salt showed elevated preferences for it.
2. The “tongue map” isn’t exactly right
You may have seen a textbook diagram of a tongue with a “sweet” spot on the front, “salty” areas on the sides and a “bitter” zone in the back. It’s true that these areas are a bit more sensitive to those flavors, but in reality, there’s no clear-cut map of which parts of your tongue taste what.

In fact, there are taste receptors in the back of the throat. This was shown in a case of a woman whose tongue needed to be removed, and she could still sense flavors.
3. The nose knows taste
A lot of what you perceive of flavor is actually aroma, scientists say. At the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science conference, Jane Leland of Kraft Foods’ research and development group demonstrated this by having the audience pinch their noses while eating a yellow jelly bean. The candy was nearly tasteless.
What’s going on? Basically, when your nose isn’t closed up, the aroma of the food from your mouth is going through the back of the throat to the nose to give you the full flavor experience. When you block off the front part of your nose, it’s like closing off the end of a hose and the water is no longer flowing,
4. Nostalgia while eating relates to smell
Many people have powerful memories of particular flavors from childhood, and re-experiencing them in adulthood can instantly bring back moments from years past. Marcel Proust famously begins “Remembrance of Things Past” with a description of biting into a small cake called a madeleine and being overwhelmed with sensations of prior times.

That’s because the olfactory sense is perhaps the most primitive one, and the anatomical connections between smell and emotions are more direct than for other senses. However, there hasn’t been concrete research on precisely how this phenomenon works, and it’s hard to study because each person’s experience is unique.
5. We evolved to “like things that are bad for us”
Humans are driven partly innately and partly culturally to consume salt. People desire fats to store energy, but over the long run, too much can cause cell damage and shorten life.We are hard-wired to like things that are bad for us.

Our ancestors probably didn’t live to age 50, so they sought out salts and fats without regard for the consequences of a bad diet — hypertension, heart disease and stroke — in middle to old age.
And there’s been plenty of warning about salt recently. Everyone over age 51, and people with a history of hypertension, diabetes or kidney problems should restrict their daily salt intake to half a teaspoon. For everyone else, it’s about one teaspoon.
Salt enhances sweetness by inhibiting bitterness. One of the reasons you find salt everywhere is that it reduces the bitterness of vegetables, making them tastier.
6. Yes, you can reduce fat and salt without losing flavor
There are two strategies for addressing the salt problem: creating salt substitutes and coaxing people to shift their preferences. And what about reducing bad fats? Chefs can develop delicious recipes that aren’t laden with fat and may even have a cleaner flavor.
Chocolate mousse, for instance, usually contains a combination of egg yolks and cream that creates a smooth, rich feeling on the tongue — and could also cause molecular damage to arteries.

Solution: Replace the cream and yolks with with a different protein. Water and gelatin, together with chocolate, make a mousse that’s still creamy, but it’s healthier and you can taste more of the chocolate.

And David Lebovitz, former San Francisco Bay Area pastry chef who now writes cookbooks in Paris, advocates minimalism. Even a few grains of salt can make a difference — put them on top of, not in, your culinary creations, he said. It provides a contrast in your mouth to the sweetness of chocolate or caramel, for instance.
“I don’t use substitutes,” he said. “You can substitute carob for chocolate, but it’s not chocolate. I don’t think you should really trick people.”

Researched By : Kátia C. Rowlands – Pilates Instructor & Personal Trainer – 082 513 4256•

Evolution of hamster cages

Hamster are a good choice for a small pet There are many options for pets, but some like to start out small. Others like to have small ones simply because their landlords will not allow them to have a cat or a dog. Hamsters are very popular when it comes to small pets, though they certainly won’t live as long as a cat or a dog, they can have a decent lifespan. When you get one, you do have to find the best hamster cages that you can afford to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible.

Basic cages

The hamster cages that most of us had when growing up were rather simple. They had a metal cage, and the tops and bottoms were either closed or open. These hamster cages had a running wheel, and then food and water apparatus. That was usually about it. They worked well enough, and some had a ball they could put their hamster in to let it run around the house without getting hurt or lost. It was also great exercise, but not being a hamster myself, I couldn’t really tell you if they really enjoy it or not.

Modern cages

The hamster cages of today are a bit more fun, probably for the hamster and the owner alike. You can still find the old kind, but the newer ones don’t have any bars at all. They are made of a plastic that has holes in it for proper air ventilation, and are often in really neat and bright colors. The plastic is see-through, so the hamster is not hidden most of the time. Not only that, the hamster cages can be as big as you want, as they have additions that can go on and on. If you have more than one, this is a fun thing to do.


Most of these hamster cages can be put together with tunnels, or the tunnels can go in and out of the same cage. That makes them a lot of fun, and gives the animal more room to roam and more exercise to boot. What you want to spend on your hamster cages will be up to you of course, and you can buy each piece on its own, and then add more later if you really want to. Just remember to keep them clean, and that when you have more, you have more to keep up with. However, most hamster owners don’t mind the work, and they think their little critters are well worth it.•