Reasons Why Your Legs Cramp Up at Night and How to Fix It
Leg cramps are a common problem for millions of people around the world, and usually occur overnight. They come completely unexpected, and can sometimes be so painful to make your muscles sore in the morning. The pain can last from a few seconds to a couple of minutes and is very hard to get rid of.
A lot of people think that nocturnal leg cramps are the same as restless leg syndrome, but these conditions are different. Nocturnal leg cramps prevent movement of the legs, while RLS can be resolved once you start moving your legs. The reason for nocturnal leg cramps is still unresolved, although some scientists say that they might be caused by some of the following conditions:
- Magnesium, potassium or calcium deficiency;
- Physical activity;
- Muscle overload;
- Poor circulation;
- Thyroid problems;
- Prolonged exposure to cold;
- Some prescription drugs.
Here are some methods which will help you relieve or prevent the cramps:
Avoid long periods of standing or walking, especially on hard surfaces. This will prevent your muscles from becoming stiff and reduce the risk of nocturnal leg cramps.
Stretch your legs
If you experience a cramp overnight, stretch the leg gently for some much-needed relief.
Drink more water
Dehydration is one of the key causes of nocturnal leg cramps, which is why you should drink plenty of water every day.
Massage or acupuncture
Both methods can relax your muscles and target the root of the problem. Furthermore, regular leg massage will also improve the health of your legs on many levels.
Increase your magnesium intake
Magnesium is an important mineral for the muscles which relaxes them and improves their contractions. This is why it’s so effective against nocturnal leg cramps – instead of supplements, it’s best to increase your magnesium intake through dietary sources such as nuts and seeds.
Magnesium chloride flakes are the next best option. You can get them from your local pharmacy and boil them in water, then pour the liquid in a spray bottle and spray it on your legs before going to bed.
Epsom salt baths
Epsom salts can treat your leg cramps and prevent the muscle soreness afterwards. Epsom salt is full of magnesium and will significantly boost the levels of the mineral in your body.
All these remedies can help you prevent nocturnal leg cramps, but here are a few tips on what you should do when you experience them overnight:
- Rub the muscle for a minute or two to relieve the cramp and relax it;
- Move the affected leg if possible to boost your circulation;
- Sit on the floor and stretch your legs forward, then flex the feet at the ankles, and grab them with your hands. This will stretch the affected muscles and hopefully relieve the cramp;
- Make sure your bed sheets and covers are loose and the pajamas you’re wearing are not too tight, which increases the risk of nocturnal leg cramps.