If you've ever had one of those dreadfully painful leg cramps that jerk you out of bed in the middle of the night, then you may be itching to know how to get rid of them. Not only are they uncomfortable, they can last for hours and disrupt your sleeping patterns, which results in a very groggy day ahead.
We have some great remedies (many that you can try at home) to ease leg cramps, but before we dive into them, it's important to understand what nocturnal leg cramps are and why they happen.
What's A Nocturnal Leg Cramp?
As the name suggests, nocturnal leg cramps are pains in the legs that happen at night time. Usually, it's the calf muscle that's cramping, but it's sometimes accompanied by the muscles in the leg and thigh as well. According to Livestrong, a cramp is caused by an involuntary muscle contraction or spasm. It causes pain to the area as well as limits the use of the muscle for a period of time.
Nocturnal leg cramps affect both men and women equally, but they most likely occur in people over the age of 50.
Why It Happens
Some leg cramps happen without a distinct cause, but many are caused by standing or working on concrete floors, over-exerting your muscles for a long period of time, sitting in a wrong position, as well as muscle loss. According to Livestrong, people in their 40's are at a greater risk of leg cramps, as their muscle mass may decrease over time as they lessen their exercise activity. This causes the muscles to respond less efficiently when faced with sudden exercise activity and leads to muscle cramps.
Dehydration, pregnancy, alcoholism, Parkinson’s Disease as well as diabetes are all pre-existing conditions that can contribute to leg cramps.
Know What To Do
Should a leg cramp come up, it's important to know what to do, as you can ease the duration and residual soreness caused by the cramp. When one comes on, sit up and straighten both legs out in front of you. Now point your toes toward your knees, flexing your legs at your ankles. For an added stretch, grab on to your toes and gently pull your feet toward you. Then, massage the area in a circular motion.
If you're able to walk, get up and slowly walk around to increase blood flow. You can also shake your legs (while sitting down) if you're not able to get up and walk around yet. You'll also want to get out some yellow mustard and take one tablespoon, as the acetic acid in the mustard works miracles, as it preps the body to produce more acetylcholine and let up on the cramp.
Stop It Before It Starts
To prevent a leg cramp from happening in the first place, there are some things that you can do. Get a good stretch in before you head off to bed. This could be in the form of a relaxing yoga practice, or a long stretch routine. Taking a warm bath really helps as well, as it relaxes any residual muscle tension from the day, making cramps less likely to happen.
Applying a heat pad to the stressed areas of your legs works wonders as well, as does wearing ergonomic shoes to prevent excess stress build up during the day. If you try these tips and they don't provide any relief, head to your doctor's office and have them check your potassium and magnesium levels - you could have a deficiency.
Here's a video to show you how to naturally stop foot and leg cramps.
Say Goodbye To Cramps
With these remedies for nocturnal foot cramps, you should be in the clear to prevent or ease away the cramp. You can confidently fall asleep knowing that you will stay asleep and not suffer from a painful cramp in the middle of the night. You're well on your way to a restful (and pain free) night of sleep.