Leg cramps or muscle spasms are very common and can be extremely uncomfortable, even painful, especially leg cramps at night. Read more about what causes leg cramps and how you can stop them effectively.
What are leg cramps
Muscle or leg cramp is a strong sensation of painful tightening of muscles. It usually happens suddenly and the sensation can last from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes.
The calf muscle is the most common area that is affected by leg cramps at night. However, it can affect the thigh area and feet as well.
People are most likely to experience leg cramps just before going to sleep or after waking up.
What causes cramp in feet
People often wonder what causes leg cramps. It can be tough to pinpoint the exact reason. However, below are the most common causes responsible for leg cramps. Any or a combination of these factors could be causing this condition:
- Overuse of muscles is a common reason. Many athletes and runners may experience it after an intensive workout or running/marathon sessions.
- An injury such as a broken bone in the leg can also cause muscle spasm in the leg. Spasms minimize the movement to stabilize the injured area. This is the body’s protective mechanism to protect the problem area from further damage.
- Intensive exercise can cause lactic build-up and soreness in the legs. Over the counter drugs and medications are not the best remedy for fighting sore muscles and cramped legs. There are several natural ways to get rid of sore muscles. But, more on that later!
- Sudden exposure to cold water or cold temperatures, in general, can also cause cramping in the legs.
- Medical conditions such as kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroid related problems, and peripheral arterial disease.
- Sitting for a long time (during long-haul flights). Standing on a hard surface for prolonged periods can also have the same effect.
- Sleeping in awkward position might compress leg muscles resulting in cramps.
- Lack of potassium, magnesium and other minerals in the blood.
- Dehydration is one of the most leg cramp causes.
- Being on certain medications like birth control pills, steroids, statins, diuretics and antipsychotics.
Leg cramps during pregnancy
Most pregnant women, especially during their third trimester, experience muscle spasms in legs. The cramping becomes more frequent during evening/night.
One of the many reasons that contribute to muscle spasm/leg cramping during pregnancy is the additional pressure put on legs by the sudden weight gain.
The growing baby may put pressure on the blood vessels and the nerves connecting to the legs causing that pinching/painful sensation.
Additionally, increase in the blood volume coupled with lot of sudden hormonal changes can further the risk of blood coagulation. This can elevate the chances of varicose vein formation as well as leg cramping.
7 steps to stop leg cramps
#1 Do some stretching exercises
Put a pause to any physical activities such as exercising or running that may be causing the problem. Indulge in light stretching exercise.
Stretch the leg muscles all the while holding the stretch gently. Try massaging the problem area during or after the stretching session. You may also want to apply a heating pad on the affected area afterward.
#2 Increase magnesium levels using topical sprays
There’s a close relationship between muscle spasm/leg cramps and magnesium deficiency in the body. Magnesium lowers the lactic acid buildup. It’s also responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions in the body which are crucial for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, energy production, and blood coagulation, bone and cell formation, and nutrient metabolism.
To increase magnesium levels, include seeds and nuts in your diet as they are excellent source of magnesium.
For quicker results use Leg Cramps Magnesium Spray by Seven Minerals. This 100% natural and organic formulation is extremely effective in treating leg cramps by fighting magnesium deficiency. It is made of Organic Cypress, Sweet Marjoram & Peppermint Oils, and its topical application makes it super easy to absorb by the body.
#3 Use Magnesium Hot Soak
This is an effective old-school remedy. All you need is a cloth dipped in hot water mixed with Magnesium salts and press it on the affected area. Alternately, you can go for a hot bath by mixing Magnesium salts in the water.
#4 Stay hydrated
We mentioned how dehydration can cause cramping. So, staying hydrated is crucial. Sports drink rich in electrolytes is another way to cure this condition. Although, it won’t provide immediate relief, staying hydrated is important as a precautionary measure.
#5 Stay Active
Walking around is the best thing for those experiencing leg cramps? Walking tells your brain to contract the muscles and relax them.
#6 Choose proper footwear
Go with comfortable shoes that provide proper support to the foot. It’s best to go with shoes with firm heel counter. This is not exactly a leg cramps remedy. But, think of it as a precautionary measure.
#7 Wear Compression socks
Benefits of wearing compression socks are myriad. It is an excellent remedy for treating leg cramps. Even pregnant women can wear them. The compression socks squeeze the tissues and veins in the log, improving the blood flow. It makes it easier for the blood to return to the heart.
Compression socks also reduce swelling. Runners, nurses who have to stand on their feet a lot, athletes, cross-fitters and basically anyone struggling with leg cramps will benefit from wearing compression socks.
Legs cramps or muscle span in the leg region is nothing to be alarmed about. It’s not a serious health condition. However, it can definitely be bothersome and discomforting for those suffering from it.
Try above-mentioned remedies to prevent cramping. In serious conditions, if the problem still persists, we recommend seeking medical attention.