Monday, February 28, 2011

Academy Awards

Did you watch the Academy Awards last night?  I still have a few movies to catch up on, but I enjoyed the fashion, the speeches of gratitude, the special effects, the autotune movie musicals, and Alec Baldwin.  One of my favorite moments of the night was paying respects to Lena Horne.  I loved her quote "It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it."

We all have a load to carry with us--I daresay it's often a different load than we might have ever guessed!  And while I'm sure Lena Horne was referring to the emotional "load" we all carry with us, and how our perspective can change how we carry it, the quote (of course) also made me think about Pilates!  

Pilates is all about helping us be smarter about how we carry our "load".  By first becoming aware of the load we are carrying, we can figure out the best way to approach it.  It's about working smarter, not harder.  When your form is good, your load feels lighter, you can carry it longer, and you get stronger in the process instead of causing long-term damage to your body.  

Our bodies tell a story about how we live our lives day-to-day.  Do we spend our days outside doing physical labor?  Are we mostly working indoors at a desk?  Are we chasing young children around?  Are we active or sedentary?  Do we invest in ourselves?  What's YOUR story?  

Back to movies--they make us laugh, they make us cry, at their best they tell us interesting stories.  Movie stars have the luxury of living with personal shoppers, personal trainers and chefs, personal assistants, paparazzi, and a team of make-up artists and hair stylists.  They get awards and prestige for portraying other people's stories...

Well, we think you all deserve an award for the story you create every day.  We think you are interesting, and  beautiful and your stories are amazing!  This is part of the reason we will continue to spotlight our clients every week.  

We want to thank you all for being part of the story of Intermountain Pilates Training Center...still in process!  It's been quite an adventure so far :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Warm up with my favorite soups!

I am not a soup lover, to be honest.  I do enjoy the comfort of tomato soup and a delicious grilled cheese, but mostly I don't even want soup when I'm sick!  However, I found these two recipes that I LOVE!  Easy to make, filling enough for a meal, and healthy to boot!

SKINNY SOUP
I got this recipe from A Pinch of Salt Lake (my favorite recipe book!)
You can add chicken or ham if you want meat!  I also prefer a pasta other than spaghetti, and
of course you can change out the veggies if you don't like all of them!

1/2 c chopped celery
1/2 c shredded cabbage
1/2 c chopped green beans
1 c peeled and chopped tomatoes
1/2 c chopped carrots
1/2 c chopped onions
1/2 c chopped cauliflower
1 16-oz can tomato sauce
4 c water
3 beef bouillon cubes
1 t basil
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t marjoram
1/4 t oregano
black pepper to taste
8 oz spaghetti pasta, uncooked

Combine all ingredients in a medium stockpot and simmer 30 minutes.  Easy peasy!

CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
I got this recipe from my sister and it is so delicious!

cooked chicken ( I use 3 cans of cooked chicken in a pinch)
2 med potatoes & 2 carrots chopped and peeled
cook above ingredients in 3-4 cups water until tender

Sautee large onion and a clove of minced garlic on low

www.shine.yahoo.com
add large can of chicken broth (48 oz)
1 can tomato sauce (16 oz)
large can cut & peeled tomatoes (28 oz)
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
Cook 20 min on low

Toppings!:
grated cheese
tortilla chips
avocado
sour cream
black olives
squirt a lemon wedge in the soup right before you eat it--YUM!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Client Spotlight: Natalie Surut

Our first client spotlight is Natalie Surut!  Natalie has impressed us with her commitment to being in Pilates class, and her focus when she is here.  We think she is a great example of taking steps every day toward a healthy life!

Natalie started working out at about age 13 doing a lot of cardio and aerobic-type classes, because she felt overweight when she was younger.  Though her dad is a "health-food nut", he didn't really exercise regularly, but he supported Natalie by helping her with a gym  membership because she wanted to exercise.  About a year ago, she saw a flyer for Intermountain Pilates Training Center and thought she'd try a class.  She says she fell in love with it right away, and that Pilates has transformed her body more than any of her past fitness activities.  

Natalie says she feels that she is "...building a foundation for the rest of her life with Pilates...if you start at a certain point and just keep working for your whole life at it, it's not gonna be so much trying to get in shape when I'm older, it will just be maintaining being in shape.  I think of it as an investment."  Natalie says she feels like Pilates strengthens her entire body, and in the past her performance in other activities she enjoys, like skiing and rock climbing, wasn't half as good as it is now.  "I think a lot of it's just because I've strengthened all those little muscles that no one ever pays attention to."  

Natalie also loves to do Pilates as a way to help her relax and refocus.  "It's totally a mind-body experience, and it allows me to kind of get rid of all the excess junk and all the things that don't really matter like worrying about school and other stresses, and I can just kind of focus on myself."

Natalie would recommend Pilates to others because it's "...the whole package...it completely transforms your body and your ability to perform.  It's a necessary accessory to any other activity.  You have to do Pilates to perform to your maximum capability in any other sport."

Natalie is in her first year as a full-time student at Westminster College.  In addition to skiing and rock climbing, Natalie also loves to hike.  Her favorite food is Sushi, and she really likes Sapa in downtown SLC http://www.sapabarandgrill.com/.  Her favorite color is a "gem-purple".  She hopes to travel the world to experience every other culture she can possibly think about!  And of course, she LOVES Pilates!

Monday, February 21, 2011

SNOW! And other things to entertain you...

Did anyone else get out to enjoy the 3 feet of gorgeous snow in the mountains?  It took me a few runs to remember
how to manage my snowboard in that much powder, but when I finally did, it was incredible!
Check out these videos of some snow enthusiasts, and share with us how you have fun in the snow!
 If snow isn't your thing, check out the links below for some secretive insights to places in this world you will
probably NEVER see!  Thanks to the Outside magazine blog for this collection of awesome stuff! (www.outside-blog.away.com)

Stuff You Should Click On: Week of February 18


By The News Team
Feb 18, 2011

commentsComments (0)
With this Monday being Presidents' Day, many of you are likely headed to slopes for a long ski weekend. Below, a few clips, galleries, and other assortments to get you in the mood. And if skiing's not your thing, well, we've got you covered, too. Here's the stuff you should click on this week.
Start Off Your Long Ski Weekend Right:

(Hat tip to The Adventure Blog and EarlyUps.com)
A New Take on Nordic Skiing:
A Better Take:
But Nothing Can Beat These:
The Nine Best Ski Movies of All Time (SkiNet)
And if Skiing's Not Your Jam:
9 Ultra Secretive and Exclusive Places You'll Probably Never See (NileGuide)
What You Were Really Thinking Last Monday:
Valentine's Day Cards for The Rest of Us... (The Verteblog)
And Today's Lesson OR George Bluth on Aron Ralston:
Leaving A Note and Hiking (Backcountry.com)
--Michael Webster
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Related Topics: News · Skiing and Snowboarding · Travel

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Friday, February 18, 2011

If You Only Do One Healthy Thing Today, Do This: Laugh!

Thanks to Glamour Magazine's Blog Vitamin G writer Lexi Patronis for giving us permission, nay, giving us good reason to laugh every day!  Now I don't feel bad for choosing comedies over dramas every time!

Laughing doesn't just feel good--it's actually good for you. And we're talking real laughs here, too, not that fabricated chuckle you whip out for awkward dates or meetings with the higher-ups (sorry, boss!). Take a look...
www.jameswoodward.wordpress.com
According to at least one study, laughing is good for your heart. This study measured the blood flow of people who'd watched a comedy and a drama. Watching the comedy increased participants' blood flow by 22% (about the same as a 15-minute workout).
And other research has suggested that laughter helps you sleep better, relax more, keeps you from getting sick, and lowers your blood sugar. So there's really no good reason not to laugh.
Need help getting giggly?  
Check out this nostalgic and entertaining Jazzercise video starring Judi Sheppard Missett, the founder of Jazzercise.  Jazzercise is still thriving, but has evolved over the years to be more "current".   What do you think--should we try this next week in TRX circuit class?   
Do you have any favorite "go-tos" when you need a laugh?  Please share in the comments if you do!

I also loved this article from Psychology Today writer Joanne Stern, Ph.D. about talking to your kids about what made them laugh each day:

A mom recently told me that her favorite question to ask her kids when they come home from school is, "What made you laugh today?" I thought it was brilliant. First of all, it's a terrific, creative conversation starter. It sparks kids' imagination and takes the focus and pressure off their performance for that day. Secondly, it makes kids scroll back through their day and pull out what was cool and special. That's much more fun than telling you about yet one more math class, art project or recess game. And, thirdly, it helps establish a habit of thinking positively and looking on the bright side of things.



www.psychologytoday.com

Laughter is a wonderful concept to use with your kids-in connecting with them, in building strong relationships, and sometimes even in discipline.
How about applying the principle of laughter to yourself? Here are five reasons to insert laughter into your own life on a daily basis.
1. Laughter connects you to the positive side of life and to your own creativity. Think about it: Your reality is not actually what is, but how you perceive and hold what is. When you're negative, you're more likely to stay stuck in the same old, same old. But when you allow positivity to wash over you, you'll tend to find alternative, better options for dealing with challenges and achieving success. It boils down to this: when you laugh, you get more out of life.
2. Laughter makes you more fun to be with. I'll bet your spouse prefers you with a smile rather than a frown. Friends enjoy you more when you're upbeat. And kids love a happy parent. They're willing to put up with seriousness for a while, but they sparkle and come to life when you're fun. This doesn't mean that you should be fake or inauthentic. But it does mean you should be on the lookout for anything-even the smallest thing-that will put a smile on your lips and a delight in your heart.
3. Laughter allows you to enjoy your kids more. If you carry your burdens with you all day and hold them front and center, you don't even notice the adorable behaviors of your kids because you're too self-absorbed. When they say something cute and funny, it passes right over you and you miss the opportunity to connect with them in their world. They grow up so fast, and your time with them at each age and phase of their live is short. When you find the humor in their antics-whether they're toddlers throwing their veggies on the floor or teenagers trying to manipulate you into loaning them the car-it helps melt away your frustration and see your kids for the unique and precious people they are. A young mom told me that every night as she and her husband are getting ready for bed, they ask each other what was the favorite thing their toddler did that day. That question immediately thrusts them into the joy they receive from their child and provides a fantastic way to share a chuckle.
4. Laughter puts life into perspective. We tend to take ourselves, our work and our families all too seriously. Focusing on our problems doesn't help in solving them. It only gets us off kilter. Laughter restores our equilibrium. It doesn't eliminate the challenges, the responsibilities or the hard work required to create success at home or at work. But it's a breather that lightens the load. It's like a reset button to take us back to a more balanced place so we can start again with a renewed energy and a fresh spirit.
5. And, of course, laughter relieves stress. You can actually feel the layers of tension peel off when you laugh. We've known for years that laughter is truly the best medicine in the world. It boosts the immune system, re-energizes the body, diminishes pain and revitalizes the spirit. And, best of all, this medicine doesn't taste bad, has no negative side-effects and costs nothing.
There's power in laughter-healing power, restorative power, rejuvenating power. And it's fun. Now we only need to remind ourselves to laugh more.
For more parenting tips, check out my book, "Parenting Is a Contact Sport: 8 Ways to Stay Connected to Your Kids for Life."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Born to Jog...with a very soft "J"

I've never felt I was "born to run"--even if the human race in general was!  In fact, just out of high school I added to my "bucket list" that I wanted to be able to run 5 miles before I died.  With practice, I have since achieved that goal, and this year I am training to run my first half-marathon in Salt Lake City!  I am slow, my breathing is labored, I am sweaty, I overheat easily, and I never seem to get to that "zen" place when I run.  But I AM learning to enjoy it more (Pilates has played a starring role in that story, with coconut water playing the supporting role), and I plan to cross the finish line however I can, be it running, jogging, skipping, walking, or even rolling!

Please think about joining me in the race!  There are a number of IPTC clients signed up, and I'm not even expecting you to stay with my slow legs the whole time, I promise.  There is a 5K, half-marathon, full-marathon, bike tour, and kids marathon.  If you're not interested in racing right now, consider volunteering at the event, or just being a spectator and cheering the runners on. http://www.saltlakecitymarathon.com/

One of the books that really helped me to enjoy running more is Slow Burn by Stu Mittleman.  Stu is a world-record setting endurance athlete whose approach to running has lead him to win 6-day races, 1000-mile races, and more.  Stu's approach includes alternating walking and running, and training in heart rate zones rather than pushing for certain times or distances.  He also shares a lot about nutrition and diet to keep your body going.  His expertise helped me to stop beating myself up for feeling too slow, and start listening to my body so I can better enjoy running.  http://www.worldultrafit.com/whois.html

Another thing that pushes me along is a song with a great cadence for running.  Do you have any favorites on your playlist that you could share with us?

There are lots of approaches out there, and we'd love to hear if you've found one that works for you!  Have you read the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall?  The author shares some of his insights in this video--and he's not preaching about barefoot running, but talking about the history of running in general.  My favorite part is when he talks about just getting back to the joy of moving and getting rid of all the junk we've learned to associate with running.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Self-Love: Stop Telling Yourself "No" and Start Saying "OM"

Happy Valentine's Day!!!  We encourage you to go heavy on the self-love today!  After all, until you really learn to love yourself you can't fully love those around you.  I LOVED this article from www.dailyspark.com--it talks about practicing a form of meditation to stop passing negative judgment about your own thoughts, which leads to unnecessary self-loathing.  It really struck me because just in the last week I've realized I need to stop doing this to myself! Like anything, it takes some practice, but the rewards are well worth the effort.  Maybe start by treating yourself to something today and not feeling guilty about it.  Read the article for some GREAT suggestions on how to do that.

Do you have trouble just saying NO to your sweettooth, or your Inner Couch Potato when s/he really wants to skip that exercise session you've got planned? Well, maybe NO isn't really the word you should be using.

Trying saying OM instead. 

That's the advice of some psychologists who have been studying the potential benefits of meditation for people who are trying to lose weight.

A couple years ago, Jean Kristeller, PhD, a psychology professor at Indiana State University, and Ruth Quillian-Wolever, PhD, clinic director and clinical health psychologist of the Duke Center for Integrative Medicine, conducted a randomized clinical trial using mindfulness meditation as an intervention for weight gain and obesity, particularly for binge-eating problems, and found that the approach was helpful. That research is described in this book chapter (link goes to a downloadable PDF).

More recently, this study found evidence of actual physical changes in the brain associated with meditation, which may help explain how it helps.

The meditation techniques used in these studies are variations on Buddhist vipassana meditation (aka mindfulness meditation), the basic goal of which is "to see things as they really are," without attaching negative or positive judgments to them. The practitioner of this form of meditation sets out to "empty" her mind of all the busy thoughts that constantly intrude and demand attention, usually by focusing on the breath or a mantra. When thoughts inevitably show up, the idea is not to resist or stop them--it's simply to notice them and allow them to go on their way without getting caught up in them emotionally, or passing judgment on them.

This is helpful because thoughts themselves are not the problem--it's usually the act of judging our own thoughts that gives them the power to distract us or affect us emotionally in problematic ways. For example, if you're trying not to have a certain thought, and one comes along, the "normal" reaction is to get upset with yourself for not being able to stop it, and then start thinking about why you have this problem or what you can do about it. This is what actually turns a simple, harmless thought into a problem, and gets us headed off on the wrong track. If, on the other hand, you simply note that you're having a thought, without thinking of this as good or bad, it will typically pass on through quickly, without getting you upset or emtionally involved, and allow you to get right back to your focus on simply observing what's going on.

Practice of this kind of meditation helps you develop the skill of observing yourself without either passing judgment, or feeling like you need to act on every thought or feeling that comes along. It helps you create a little bit of space between you and what happens to you, and between you and your own actions. Learning how to stay in this " mindful space" between the doer and the deed can be pretty crucial when it comes to healthy eating and exercise. When you can allow thoughts to come and go without getting wrapped up in them, you're much better able to get out of your negative thought patterns and habits and get into your actual here-and-now bodily experience--including your natural sensations of hunger and fullness. Laboratory research on regulation of eating shows that individuals with eating problems are generally less aware of experiences of hunger and satiety cues, including taste-specific satiety and feelings of fullness.

At the same time, the ability to notice and experience urges, impulses, thoughts and feelings without feeling compelled to push them away or act on them can free you from the need to eat emotionally in order to control or manage these experiences. You can probably imagine how much easier it might be to handle an urge to grab a piece of candy out of the office candy bowl if your first reaction is to simply notice that you're having the urge, instead of either mindlessly reaching for the candy, or immediately getting caught up in worrying whether you'll be able to resist it, wondering what's wrong with you that you can't just ignore it, or getting upset that your coworkers don't seem to care how hard it is for you to resist the little treats they bring in. Without all the mental turmoil, that urge will come and go in a few seconds--it's the turmoil your mind generates after you make the judgment that having that urge is a bad thing that actually turns it into a problem.

As always when it comes to changing the way you see things, using these meditation techniques to develop the skills discussed above will take practice over time. But according to the research, people often start seeing positive results in gaining more control over impulsive or compulsive behavior within a short time.

Personally, I've found meditation very helpful. My favorite form is "walking meditation"--usually in the form of hikes in desert hills--which really helps me quiet down all the "noise" in my mind and just focus on being where I am and how it feels to be walking there. It's a great way to nip depressive thoughts and feelings in the bud.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

It seems that a lot of couples find Valentine's Day laced with unnecessary pressure to impress or be romantic.  We hope that you share the love on Valentine's Day in a way that is meaningful to you--maybe you could plant some post-it notes as part of Operation Beautiful (see our previous post) to let some other people share in that love!  If you're not feeling that idea...here are some other fun things to think about on Valentine's Day!

Counting Calories?  Kristen Seymour from www.thatsfit.com shares some fun activities and how many calories they burn.  Be sure to watch the video of ideas for couples' exercises, but proceed with caution if you attempt them at home!  The last thing you need is a trip to the emergency room or the chiropractor!
How many calories* do typical Valentine's Day activities burn?  Got a date to go dancing? Slow ballroom dancing will burn 103 calories in half an hour. If you and your honey plan to tear up the dance floor with some more aerobic moves, it will torch 220 calories in 30 minutes.  If you're keeping the romance on the home front, you'll burn 90 calories cooking your sweetie's favorite meal for 30 minutes.  Take a romantic, moonlit stroll after dinner and you'll burn off 95 calories.  Smooch with your sweetie for 15 minutes, and you could burn off nearly 19 calories.  And once you get back home, 30 minutes of foreplay will burn 50 calories, while half an hour of sex is good for 144.  And if your valentine is out of town, you can always burn 36 calories just by chatting on the phone!  *Based on an average 150-pound woman. You can adjust the activity, weight or duration to answer your questions using the Health Status calculator.
Burn even more calories with the push up routine for couples below
.
http://www.5min.com/Video/Couples-Push-Ups-40752975

Here are some fun facts about the History of Valentine's Day and the history of kissing!  from www.realsimple.com:

The History of Valentine's Day (and Kissing)
Instead of whispering sweet nothings, impress your sweetheart with these Valentine’s Day facts. 
  • No one knows the real story behind Saint Valentine (at least three different saints named Valentine are recognized by the Roman Catholic church), but one legend claims that he secretly married young couples against the orders of an emperor who had banned marriage because he believed single men made better soldiers.
  •  
  • Today’s tradition of trading love notes on February 14 became popular in England in the 17th century.
     
  • The first box of chocolates was introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868.
     
  • The oldest known valentine card dates back to the 1400s. Charles, duke of Orleans, sent it to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
     
  • So-called vinegar valentines, which carried insults like “Ugly, Fat, and Forty,” were popular in the 19th century. They were sent anonymously on the 14th.
     
  • “Be Mine,” one of the original messages on Necco’s Sweethearts candies when they debuted, still appears every year. Recent additions? “IM Me” and “Go Girl.”
But there’s plenty you may still not know about philematology, or the science of snogging (seriously, it has a name). So wrap your orbicularis oris muscles (lips) around these tidbits of trivia, and next time you greet your valentine, you can kiss and tell.
 
  • Some anthropologists believe that kissing originated with early Homo sapiens passing food to their babies mouth to mouth. As humans developed, the mouth-to-mouth feeding stopped, but the learned behavior of kissing remained.
     
  • The first on-screen kiss was between John C. Rice and May Irwin in the 1896 movie appropriately titled The Kiss.
     
  • Birds and bees may not be able to kiss, but bonobo apes do. The oft-studied primates, who are closely connected to humans, love to lay one on each other after a fight, to form social bonds, or―arguably the best reason―just because.
     
  • As a prelude to KISS, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley were known as Wicked Lester. In 1973 Stanley had the idea to change the band’s name to KISS, while Frehley came up with the iconic design for the KISS logo.
     
  • They may not have been sitting in a tree, but British couple James Belshaw and Sophia Severin achieved a record for k-i-s-s-i-n-g back in 2005, when they smooched for 31 hours, 30 minutes, and 30 seconds. No word on whether it led to love, marriage, or a baby in a carriage.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Operation Beautiful!

Have you heard of Operation Beautiful?  Caitlin Boyle started this operation, and she says on her blog, "One of my biggest personal crusades is ending Fat Talk.  I began the Operation Beautiful website to help women and girls realize how truly toxic fat talk is  — it hurts you emotionally, spiritually, and physically."  Read more about Fat Talk on Caitlin's Blog at http://www.healthytippingpoint.com/


Operation Beautiful encourages women everywhere to leave post-it notes with uplifting messages for other women/girls to see!  This could be in public restrooms, public bulletin boards, etc.  Read the inspirational stories of how Operation Beautiful is encouraging women everywhere to be kinder to themselves and the women around them, because we are all beautiful!  http://operationbeautiful.com/


We love Operation Beautiful!  And we think YOU are beautiful!  At IPTC we want everyone who does Pilates with us to feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally!  We focus on helping your body move the best it can so that you, in turn, can feel your best and enjoy life to the fullest.  We help create stronger and more flexible bodies, centered in a solid core, that enable you to do the things you love!  


Whatever your journey, remember, as Caitlin says, "The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough... just the way you are!"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Muscle Cramps and How to Treat Them



Do you ever get muscle cramps during Pilates class, running, or other forms of exercise?  Livestrong.com gives a great explanation of why our muscles cramp and how to treat them with the following article!  Reasons include overuse and dehydration, and suggestions for treatment include stretching, massage, and icing the affected area.  Drinking fluids to hydrate the muscles and improve heart function can also help.  I have found that coconut water is my favorite way to hydrate--I've noticed my muscles and whole body feel better with it!  Please share in the comments if you have found great ways to relieve muscle cramps and improve muscle function!  

Muscle cramps are sudden, involuntary spasms or contractions in one or more of your muscles, according to MedLine Plus. Muscle cramps are very common and can be very painful. Once you pinpoint the cause of your cramps, there are some steps you can take to prevent them from happening again.

Dehydration and Overuse:  Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or holding a contracted position for too long can all lead to muscle cramps, according to the Mayo Clinic. Dehydration and muscle strains are the most common reasons for muscle cramps during sports and are usually the cause of muscle cramps at night. According to the Stretching Institute, the most common areas affected by dehydration and overuse cramps are the calves, the upper leg, and the feet and hands.


Health Problems as a Cause:  Dehydration and overuse cramps are easily treated, but some cramps can develop as a result of serious medical conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, inadequate blood supply, nerve compression and mineral depletion can all lead to cramps. This can happen because of arterial problems or blockages, which lead to blood supply issues and nerve problems, which lead to pinched nerves or cramps. The Mayo Clinic says a shortage of potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can lead to leg cramps. Muscle cramps can be the result of kidney, thyroid, diabetes, hormone or anemia problems that lead to mineral depletion or blockages.
Treatment:  When you come down with a severe muscle cramp, it helps to get water and electrolytes into your body, and to stretch and massage the affected areas. The Mayo Clinic suggests stretching the affected area and gently massaging at the same time before placing an ice pack on the area to relax the muscles. Stretching or extending the muscle as far as possible in the direction opposite of the contraction can help to loosen it and relieve the pain. If muscle cramps do not respond to fluids and stretching, an underlying medical issue could be to blame.
Prevention:  The most important thing you can do to prevent cramps is to stay hydrated, especially if you work or exercise in extreme heat and humidity. The Stretching Handbook says stretching and improving your cardiovascular fitness can also help keep cramps away. Stretching makes your muscles more flexible and loosens them, which can help to cool them and keep them from cramping after a workout. Getting in better cardiovascular shape also helps you to deliver more blood and nutrients to the muscles, which helps them to function properly.