Waking up at night to leg cramps is not a good feeling for anyone. There can be quite a few things causing your cramps to look out for. While you try to tackle the cause of your cramping, here are some ways to get relief:
- Overuse when exercising. An easy way to prevent this is to make sure to stretch after (not just prior) working out.
- Dehydration. For some, dehydration can lead to a drop in salt levels which can, in turn, lead to leg cramps.
- Shortened tendons. Tendons bind muscles to bone and if your tendons become too short they can affect the muscles, causing them to cramp.
- Incorrect footwear. Try to wear supportive shoes and if you already know you have a tendency to pronate or supinate, find inserts for your shoes that can correct these imbalances.
- Medication. Certain medications can cause leg cramps. Possible culprits include diuretics that are used to treat high blood pressure, heart failure and kidney disease, statins, or nicotinic acid which is used to treat high cholesterol.
- Restricted blood flow. The way you’re sleeping may be causing an improper circulation in your legs leading to cramps.
Here are some stretches you can do to help relieve your symptoms also noted by Women Working writer, Samantha Morrice:
- Massage the affected area. If your quad is cramping, apply long downward strokes with the heel of your hand to encourage the muscle to relax.
- Stretch in the opposite direction. For example, if your toes are cramping together, lift your foot upward and attempt to spread the toes outward.
- Use gravity to your advantage. If your calf is cramping, standing, and allowing gravity to relax the calf muscle downward will ease the pain. Walking around on your heels can also aid in muscle relaxation.
- Apply heat. Wrapping the affected muscles in a heat pack or taking a warm bath are good ways to calm spasming muscles.
- Preventative stretching. If you know you are prone to leg cramps right before bed, perform a calf and quad stretch. Stand about a foot away from a wall with your feet staggered, soles flat on the ground. Lean forward and place your hands on the walls, hold for about five seconds. Release and switch sides. For the quads, hold one foot behind you, bringing your heel as close to your butt as possible. Keeping your pelvis tilting forward, hold for about five seconds and then switch legs.
- Replenish your minerals. The old advice about eating a banana for cramps is still true. Bananas, coconut water, and leafy greens are all high in potassium. Consider adding a multivitamin with calcium, magnesium, and zinc if you aren’t getting enough in your daily diet.