How to Eliminate Leg Cramps at Night

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Leg cramps, also known as charley horses, are painful muscle spasms that can come on suddenly, especially during the night, waking you from a sound sleep. While some attack you in the calf or the thigh, others take hold of the soles of your feet, lasting as little as a few seconds or as long as several minutes. Read on to learn how to eliminate these painful nocturnal cramps.

Eliminating Night Cramps When They Occur

  • Attempt to relieve cramp by extending the leg and angle the foot in toward the knee. Alternatively, grasp onto your toes and pull them in the direction of your knee.

  • Get up, walk around, and shake your leg vigorously, then go back to bed and prop your leg up on a pillow.

  • Gently massage the area applying a circular motion to help to relieve the tight muscle.

  • Loosen your sheets and blankets so that your toes and feet don't point which may cause your muscles to contract and bring on another painful cramp.

  • Soak in a warm bath, take a shower or apply a heating pad to the cramp for at least 10 minutes.

Eliminating the Cause of Night Cramps

  • Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day so that vitamins and minerals can adequately be absorbed in the body.

  • Stretch your legs every night. One way is to stand at a forward tilt about 30 inches from a wall, keeping your heels flat and steady. Slide your hands up the wall to lengthen the muscles in your legs. Hold for about a minute.

  • Maintain supple muscles by swimming or participating in water exercises.

  • Wear appropriate walking shoes and stay away from high heels.

  • Be sure that you are getting enough calcium, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamins E and A.

  • Include bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe and citrus fruits in your daily diet. These foods contain potassium, which is a key mineral in helping to regulate muscle activity.

Tips & Warnings

  • To increase your calcium intake, it is advisable to take a non-phosphorus calcium supplement before bed than to rely solely on drinking milk or eating other dairy products.
  • Do not substitute caffeine or alcoholic beverages for drinking water as they are diuretics and dehydrate more than hydrate.
  • Pregnant or postmenopausal women who don't consume enough calcium may suffer more from leg cramps at night.
  • Some prescription drugs can cause nighttime leg cramps. Consult your doctor if you suspect this is the cause.
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