Nocturnal leg cramps can happen to anyone at any age, but they happen most often to older adults. 33% of people over age 60 will have a leg cramp at night at least once every two months. Nearly every adult age 50 and older will have them at least one time. 7% of children will, as well. 40% of pregnant women will experience leg cramps at night. Jul 24, · Stretch your legs. Stretching your calves and hamstrings before bed can reduce the frequency and severity of nocturnal leg cramps. Ride a stationary bike. A .
These ill-timed charley horses—characterized by a sharp muscle contraction that can last several seconds to minutes—usually affect the nitht and foot, although they can also strike your hamstring. There are theories, however. Some researchers have theorized that our modern lifestyle is to blame. While our ancient ancestors spent lots of time squatting—a position that stretches leg tendons and muscles—contemporary life has mostly removed the te for it.
When the foot rests in this position for long periods, even small movements of the feet could trigger a cramp. Sleeping on your side, with your feet off the bed, or in some other position that keeps your toes neutral—not nigyt away from you—may be a better position for these muscles. While not true for everyone, the frequency of these cramps tends to peak in mid-July and crater in mid-January. Garrison says. Electromyogram tests have shown that nerves running from the spine down to the calf trigger these cramps.
So why summer? Garrison explains. Your body produces vitamin D from sun exposure. Hard exercise has long been linked to muscle cramps. This happens even among highly trained professional athletes, the study authors say. But again, studies have been inconsistent, so more research needs to be done to know how these nutrients affect cramping directly. This may lead to fluid imbalances, as well as muscle and tendon shortening—all geet which could lead to cramping. Another of Dr.
Pregnancy, too, is associated with more frequent leg cramps, possibly due to weight gain and disrupted circulation. Diabeteshypertension, arthritisneurological disease, and depression are all associated with leg cramping, too.
In some cases, medications could be to blame, as mentioned above. But some of these conditions—namely diabetes and neurological disease—can cause disrupt or even kill your nerves, which may lead to cramping, research shows. Aging might also play a role in leg cramping, Dr.
Both strength and balance exercises may help maintain muscle and nervous system functioning in ways that prevent these issues, research suggests. Garrison says that, for many years, quinine pills were the go-to treatment for leg cramps. You could speak to three different doctors, and all three nivht give you a different explanation—and a different remedy. Here are a few worth considering:. While the research on stretching goes back and forth, a small study did find that people who completed hamstring and keg stretches just before bed hoq a significant drop in spasm frequency.
If your cramp is in your lower leg or foot, try a standing calf stretch. If the cramp is in your upper leg, these hamstring stretches may help. Beans, nuts, whole grains, and leafy greens are all great sources. Some research shows that this may not be helpful for everyone, though, so make sure you talk to your doctor too you make any major diet changes. One small study found taking B vitamins supplements could help, too.
The peg of your urine is probably your best guide. If your urine is dark yellow or closer to rkdyou need to drink more. Weight Loss. Type keyword s to search. Today's Top Stories. Probiotic-Rich Yogurts for what are all the sins Healthier Gut.
The Best Kettlebell Exercises for Beginners. Dmitry Belyaev Getty Images. What are the possible causes of leg cramps? Not stretching certain rod Some researchers have theorized that our modern lifestyle is to blame. Changing seasons Dr. Really tough workouts Hard exercise has long been linked to muscle cramps.
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Dec 09, · Night leg cramps usually involve your calf muscles, although muscles in your feet or thighs might cramp as well. Forcefully stretching the contracted muscle relieves the pain. Mar 06, · Apply a heating pad or warm wet washcloth to help loosen up the muscle. To avoid leg cramps in the future, drink plenty of fluids before and during exercise. Muscles need fluid to contract and relax properly. Prevent tightness by warming up your leg muscles before you work out with some walking in place or a slow jog. Nov 21, · Leg cramps are different from restless legs mybajaguide.com tend to happen at night, but restless legs syndrome causes discomfort and an urge to move instead of painful muscle cramps.
Last Updated: November 22, References Approved. Rudominer has over 15 years of medical care experience and specializes in preventive health care, obesity, adolescent care, ADHD, and culturally competent care. There are 19 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed , times. Leg cramps at night are an unfortunately common ailment that can strike anyone for a variety of reasons. Pregnant women and the elderly are particularly susceptible, as are those who engage in particular sports activities or who take certain medications.
Leg cramps are an unfortunately widespread phenomenon, but you should be able to eliminate nighttime leg cramps on your own. However, if chronic leg cramps are bothering you or if they do not resolve with some stretching and gentle massage, then see a doctor for help.
If you get leg cramps at night, try getting rid of them with gentle stretching. One stretch you can do is to sit with your cramped leg extended out and the other bent. Wrap a towel around the ball of your foot with your cramped leg and pull both ends towards you. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat it 3 times. Another stretch is to place your hands against a wall and take a step forward with your non-cramping leg so that your cramping leg is straight out behind you.
While keeping the foot of your extended leg flat on the floor, slowly lean forward and hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. If you need more help managing your leg cramps, you should consult your doctor for their advice. For more help, including how to use a hot compress to ease your cramps, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No. Log in Social login does not work in incognito and private browsers. Please log in with your username or email to continue.
Download Article Explore this Article methods. Tips and Warnings. Related Articles. Article Summary. Method 1 of Use a towel to stretch your calf muscles. Sit with your cramped leg out in front of you and wrap a towel around the ball of your foot. Grab both ends of the towel and pull it towards yourself so that you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Be careful not to overstretch and cause greater injury to your leg.
Stop stretching if you start to feel pain in your calf. Lean forward in a sitting position to stretch your inner calf. In a sitting position, extend the leg that has the cramp in it and keep the other leg bent, then lean forward so that your knee approaches your chest. Take hold of the bottom of the toe from the extended leg and pull it toward your body as much as you can. Lean against a wall to stretch out your calf. Lean forward and place your hands on a wall, then take a step forward with your non-cramping leg and extend the other leg straight out behind you.
Keeping the toes and heel of your extended leg flat on the ground, slowly transfer your weight onto your bent leg until you feel the stretch in your cramping calf. Hold this stretch for seconds.
Lie down and lift your legs to stretch your hamstrings. Lie flat on your back and bend the knee in your non-cramping leg, so that your foot is flat on the floor. Then, extend and raise your cramping leg and pull it towards you while keeping it straight. Method 2 of Avoid sleeping in tight bedsheets. Tight bedsheets or covers can cause you to unconsciously point your toes downward while sleeping, which can trigger calf cramps.
Stick with looser bedsheets to minimize the chance of your feet getting stuck in 1 position for too long and causing cramps. Apply a hot compress to the cramped area of your leg. Applying heat to the cramped area can do a lot to loosen tight muscles and relieve pain. Use an electric heating pad, a warm towel, or even a warm water bottle wrapped in cloth to relax your muscles and ease your cramps.
Make sure your heating pad has an automatic shutoff. You might also be able to use heat to relax away your cramps by taking a nice warm bath. If your leg is swollen and you are also having pain and cramping, then you may have a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis.
In this case, seek medical attention and do not apply a heating pad. Leg cramps can sometimes be caused by ill-fitting footwear, especially among people who have flat feet and other structural problems.
To avoid leg cramps caused by footwear, be sure to only wear shoes that properly fit you and that are designed to compensate for any structural issues you have with your feet. These will cost more than store-bought shoes, but they may help to stop your leg cramps. Sole inserts for shoes are unlikely to help.
People who suffer from nighttime leg cramps should also avoid wearing high heels, as these shoes have been linked to leg cramps. Method 3 of Tonic water contains quinine, which some people have reported as helpful for nighttime leg cramps. However, quinine is not FDA approved for treating leg cramps, and tonic water only contains a small amount. Increase your intake of potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
This may be more of a problem for athletes. To avoid such deficiencies, make sure you are getting adequate amounts of these minerals from food or supplements. Be aware that the research on the causal connection between mineral deficiencies and leg cramps has been mixed, so increasing your consumption of these minerals may not by itself alleviate your night leg cramps.
It is best to follow a balanced diet to get adequate amounts rather than to change your diet drastically. If you don't want to take a magnesium supplement, try adding magnesium or Epsom salts to your bath water. Pregnant women are generally more susceptible to having leg cramps, especially during the second and third trimesters.
For older or non-nursing adult women, studies show that magnesium supplements are far less conclusive. Your doctor may determine that you can consume an adequate amount of magnesium simply by changing your diet. Consume at least 2. Dehydration can sometimes worsen leg cramps, so make sure to drink plenty of water each day.
Women should aim to drink about 2. Clear urine signals adequate hydration, while yellowish urine or urinating infrequently signals less adequate hydration. Avoid drinking too much alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption robs the body of water, making the possibility for cramping that much worse.
Ask your doctor if you should take calcium channel blockers. Calcium channel blockers keep calcium from entering various cells and blood vessel walls in the body. Though they are primarily used to treat high blood pressure, they can also be used to help with nighttime muscle cramps. You will need to take your blood pressure regularly if you take this medication.
The side effects of calcium channel blockers may include drowsiness, increased appetite, weight gain, and breathing difficulty within the first few doses if you have an allergy to the medication.
Note that people taking calcium channel blockers should not eat grapefruit, drink grapefruit juice, or consume alcohol while on the medication. Method 4 of Watch out for diuretics. Diuretics that are used to treat high blood pressure may also help get rid of excess water in the body.
This unfortunately can result in dehydration, a common cause of night leg cramps. Recognize that some hypertension drugs may cause leg cramps. Thiazide diuretics, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, may deplete key electrolytes in the body, paving the way for possible cramping.
ACE-inhibitors may also cause an electrolyte imbalance and lead to muscle cramps. They may recommend changing the dose or taking you off of the medication. Consider swapping out statins and fibrates for other medicines. Used to control high cholesterol, statins and fibrates may interfere with muscle growth, causing a decrease in muscle energy.
Ask your doctor whether it's prudent to swap statins and fibrates with vitamin B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6.