I can’t recall how many times the subject has come up, but recently my wife and a husband and wife very close to us started complaining about leg cramps at night. As usual, I told them to try magnesium tablets, and, again as usual, they ignored this. So, I decided to do a bit of research and write about it.
Do you ever get leg cramps, or nocturnal leg cramps, at night? Pains that occur before and during sleep often accompany them. Although leg cramps commonly occur in the calf, they can also cause pain in the thighs and feet.
Pain due to leg cramps at night can last for mere seconds or for several minutes. After the leg cramp passes, muscle soreness often lingers.
Both men and women can experience leg cramps, more commonly in adults over the age of 50.
Leg cramps at night are different from restless leg syndrome
Both nocturnal leg cramps and restless leg syndrome occur during sleeping hours but that’s the only similarity between the two conditions.
Let’s look at the causes and risk factors associated with nocturnal leg cramps
The exact cause of nocturnal leg cramps is often unknown, but potential causes and risk factors include:
- Sitting for prolonged periods of time
- Over-exertion of the leg muscles
- Standing or working on concrete floors
- Sitting improperly
Medical conditions, too, can contribute to nocturnal leg cramps, such as:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Magnesium deficiency
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Structural disorders like flat feet
- Endocrine disorders like diabetes
- Diuretics, statins, beta agonists
Treatment and prevention
The cause is, of cause, important. For example, if it is due to dehydration, make sure you are getting enough water.
You can also try the following:
- Applying topical magnesium oil before bedtime
- Taking a relaxing, warm bath prior to sleep to ease any muscle tightness
- Applying a heating pad to the affected area
- Try acupuncture treatment to loosen tight leg muscles
- Get blood work done to ensure that you’re not deficient in magnesium or potassium
- Stretching your legs prior to bed
- Use bone broth regularly
- Wear ergonomic shoes and avoid high hells
How to handle a nocturnal muscle cramp after the attack
When a cramp strikes, it can nearly leave you paralyzed. Knowing how to properly handle an attack will offer you relief and leave you less sore afterwards.
Here are some tips:
- While sitting on the floor, extend both legs in front of you. Now, flex you feet at the ankles and point your toes toward your knees You might want to use a towel for a better stretch.
- Get up slowly and walk around a bit. Shaking your legs can improve blood flow.
- Gently massage the area in a circular motion.
- Ensure that blankets and sheets are not tight enough to make the leg muscles contract.
A final note
Given that a great proportion of people in the world are magnesium deficient, and that our skin is the biggest organ in our body, try spraying some magnesium oil on your calves/legs before you go to bed. Leave it on for 30 minutes when you start.
You may be surprised at the results.
That’s it for now; see you all the next time.