If you have ever suffered from one of those jump-out-of-bed-and-dance-around-the-room nighttime leg cramps, you know how awful, and painful, they can be!
Although you can also experience these painful cramps in the feet or thighs, for most people, it is the calf muscle that seems to be the main culprit.
There are numerous reasons why people experience these cramps; everything from pregnancy, particular medications long periods of sitting or standing, even a nutritional deficiency. However, in many cases, no one really knows why we get them.
A quick look at Google will reveal hundreds of “cures”. Some work for some people, but don’t for others. If you are unable to find the reason for your leg cramps, you might want to try these one at a time. Hopefully, one of the following 10 methods will give you relief from these painful episodes.
This one has been proven to work, although scientists and doctors are at a loss to explain it. We can personally attest that this method has worked for one of the admin’s of this page!
Simply by placing a bar of unwrapped soap inside the bed, you can stop cramps from occurring. Be certain that you are using real soap and NOT a “beauty bar” or “complexion bar”. Those are not real soap, but merely detergent. Ivory soap or Irish Spring is two common soaps. Unwrap the bar and put it between the sheets, down towards your feet. You don’t have to actually touch the soap with your feet, but you can if you like.
If you should experience a cramp, or if the soap starts to dry out too much, replace it. As we mentioned, this method works for many, although scientists don’t understand why this is.
- Stay Hydrated
Simply being a little dehydrated can cause muscle cramps. Water makes up about 75 percent of our muscle tissue, so you can see how lacking even a little bit of water in our bodies can cause our muscles to react strangely. Water balances the electrolytes in the body, without which, our muscles simply wouldn’t work right. Be certain that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Pregnant women will experience leg cramps at night, especially during their late second trimester and right up until birth. This is most likely due to increased pressure on the nerves and/or circulation in the legs. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this, ladies, until you give birth. Try the soap method listed above and/or speak with your doctor.
- Nutritional Deficiencies
There are several minerals in the body that are important for muscle contraction and nerve impulse. Sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, are all necessary for proper muscle function. A lack of any of these can result in leg cramps.
Consider taking a multi-vitamin supplement if you feel you are eating a proper diet, but are still suffering from leg cramps. You can also try adding more bananas, nuts, seeds, spinach, and seafood to your diet to see if these mineral rich foods help to stop your cramps.
For those who must stand for long periods of time or those who wear high heels regularly, you will find that these activities put excessive pressure on the calf and foot muscles, often causing leg cramps. Be sure you wear shoes that fit well and if you must stand all day, put a soft mat under your feet. There are mats designed just for this purpose!
Ladies, take a break from heels! Vary the size of your heels at the very least! Don’t wear heels around the house or anywhere you don’t really have to. High heels are pretty, but they are detrimental to your feet, legs, and back!
Low levels of thyroid hormones, known as hypothyroidism, can also cause nighttime leg cramps. Since thyroid hormones affect how the body uses calcium and other minerals, you can suffer from a deficiency not due to poor eating habits, but poor absorption because of an underactive thyroid. If you suspect this might be the case, a simple blood test will tell your doctor if your thyroid is working properly.
- Prolonged Sitting
Unfortunately, many people work behind a desk for most of the day. This can lead to a lack of circulation, which can cause nighttime leg cramps. Try to at least stand up for 2 minutes out of every 30. You might want to set a timer on your phone or computer to remind you. Walk during your breaks and after work to help improve muscle tone and circulation.
- Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
As much as we love it, caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which rob the body of water and important minerals. No one is expecting you to cut out that morning cup of Joe, but stop after two or three cups in the morning. Consider replacing your lunchtime soda with water or green tea, and limit your consumption of alcohol to no more than 1 drink (5 ounces) per day. If you do drink before bedtime, you should drink a full cup of more of water just before hitting the sack.
- Stretch the Legs
Some people say that simply taking a quick walk or riding a stationary bike for about 10 minutes in the evening helps to stop leg cramps. This is most likely due to increased circulation and the stretching of the calf muscles. You can also try yoga to stretch the calf muscles.
- Keep It Loose
Don’t tuck those covers in too tightly around the foot of the bed! Some people say that they experience leg cramps when their feet or toes become twisted because they are caught in the covers. You want the sheets and blanket to cover the feet, but not so tight that your feet are pointed down or in some other awkward position.
Do you have any other natural remedies that have worked for you? We would love to hear how you avoided nighttime leg cramps.