Leg cramps, by themselves, are not a serious medical condition, but they can often cause serious amount of discomfort in everyday life, especially in elderly people who experience frequent cramps during nighttime. There are several different yet simple prevention methods and approaches that work for most of the people who wish to stop regular leg cramps occurrences.
First of all, you should avoid everything that contributes to the risk of experiencing leg cramps – strenuous physical activity (if possible), long stationary positions (standing, sitting, sleeping with legs in weird positions), alcohol and caffeine (cause dehydration). You should also consult your health specialists about any medications you’re taking that might be contributing by affecting nerves or muscles in some way – these may include, anti-psychotics, birth control pills, diuretics, statins, steroids… If you’re suffering from thyroid disease, have flat feet and low levels of calcium, magnesium and/or potassium in your bloodstream, take all the necessary steps to fix these conditions as they also increase the risk of leg cramps.
Leg cramps can, further more, be prevented by making sure you avoid all those bodily states that contribute to their occurrences. Drinking plenty of water and other fluids, limited alcohol and caffeine consumption, eating healthy food with lots of vitamins and minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium), riding a bike, walking or recreational running, stretching leg muscles before going to bed, adjusting the leg posture in bed (feet and toes not pointed downwards, legs not placed in weird and uncommon positions). Follow these and you’ll instantly improve your legs health.
When leg cramps do occur, walking around and jiggling your legs is a good start to make them go away. Stretching your calf muscles is especially useful as this is, probably, the muscle region where your leg cramps occur. This can be done in 2 very simple ways:
- Sit down, straighten your legs, don’t flex your knees and flex the feet upwards and towards your knees. You can help yourself with this by pulling with a rope under the ball of your feet. You will feel your calf getting stretched. Keep the calf stretched for 5-6 seconds. Don’t pull too hard, moderate muscle straining is mandatory. Repeat this 10 times in a row.
- Stand 2-3 ft from the wall (0.6-1m), lean forward to the wall, keep one leg straight and with the heel to the ground and “lock” the other one behind it. Some people might need to get farther from the wall to feel the calf muscle getting stretched and strained. Keep in this position for 5-6 seconds, then do it with another leg. Repeat 5 times with each leg.
Some people find massaging the cramped leg muscle with hands or ice particularly useful. You can also try doing it for couple of minutes and if you see the cramps easing and going away, whenever they reoccur just repeat what you’ve done before. In rare instances, taking a hot shower or bath helps relax the muscles and make the leg cramps go away.
As you can see, it doesn’t take a Ph.D in medicine to prevent and treat leg cramps, so try everything and whatever works best for you, keep doing it. After all, a bit of healthy diet and physical activity has never hurt anyone, so why should you be any exception?