By Terrie Johnson | Community Health & Human Services Intern
Anyone who has experienced leg cramps can attest that it is not the most pleasant experience. Leg cramps occur when muscles involuntarily contract, and usually last for a short period of time. The most common area for these to occur is in the calf muscles, but the feeling can also occur in your feet. Leg cramps are caused by overusing or straining muscles (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2021). This can be a result of excess running, walking, weightlifting, prolonged standing, or strenuous exercises. Dehydration and aging can also cause leg cramps due to insufficient electrolytes in the body and decreased muscle mass. Dehydration reduces components such as Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium, which are vital minerals for muscle function.
Although most cases of leg cramps don’t indicate a worrisome underlying condition, people who are 65 years and older are at greater risk for them. Cramps may be related to alcoholism, hypothyroidism, or diabetes (Carey, 2019). You should see a doctor if the frequency of your cramps worsens. Meanwhile, there are many remedies you can try to help reduce leg cramps:
Stretching- Relax the cramping muscle. Stop any activity that may have induced the cramp and lightly stretch the muscle, gently holding the stretch.
Magnesium- try adding more magnesium to your diet. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of magnesium.
Heat- Try applying this old-school remedy to a wet cloth and pressing it onto a cramped muscle, use a heating pad, or add some Epsom salt to hot bath for a soak.
Hydration- Staying hydrated may take a little linger to ease your pain, but once you’ve had enough water or a sports drink with electrolytes, you could prevent another cramp.
Moving- Walking around can also help ease leg cramps by sending signals to the muscle that it needs to relax after it contracts.
Carey, E. (2019, March 8). How to stop leg cramps: Treatment and remedies for relief. Healthline. Retrieved January 3, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/pain-relief/how-to-stop-leg-muscle-cramps#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2021). Muscle Cramp. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 17 December 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/syc-20350820