How to stop leg cramps immediately is the first thing on your mind when you have one! They are painful, and they typically wake you up in the middle of the night many times. Other times leg cramps can happen as you exercise and in other situations. Today we’ll discuss the best ways to stop a leg cramp immediately. First, lets get some basics out of the way…
What is classified as a leg cramp?
A leg cramp, also called a “charley horse,” is a sudden contraction of one of the muscles in your leg. While they are typically harmless, muscle cramps can cause a lot of pain, and make it difficult, or impossible even to use the cramped muscle for a temporary period of time, usually only a few minutes.
Muscle cramps can happen to any of your muscles, though the most common is in your legs, typically the thighs, calves, or feet.
Generally speaking, they are pretty harmless, although if you are getting leg cramps frequently you may need to go see a doctor about it before it escalates into something worse.
Getting a muscle cramp isn’t very fun, so this article will help you know how to stop leg cramps immediately and how to prevent you from getting more.
What causes leg cramps?
Common causes of leg cramps include:
- Lack of (or not enough) stretching or exercise
- Exercising for too long, or exercising in the heat
- Overexertion of muscles
- Cold temperatures
- Wrong shoe size or fit
- Deficiency of magnesium, potassium, or calcium
Occasional leg cramps may happen, and if caused by any of the above are usually pretty simple to remedy. However, there might be an underlining health issue contributing to muscle cramps such as the aftermath of a recent surgery, parkinson’s disease, a foot, leg, or spinal injury, or compressed nerves.
If you feel like it is caused by an underlining health issue, or if the muscle cramp is accompanied by weakness, vomiting, excessive sweating, or diarrhea, it is very important to seek medical attention.
Some medications or drugs may also have leg cramps as a possible side effect, and athletes, the elderly, or pregnant women are more prone to getting leg cramps.
Stopping leg cramps immediately
When you get a leg cramp try to relax and breathe. You can massage the area that is cramped and stretch it. Moving it helps as well. You can try getting out of bed and standing. Then, holding on to a wall or the bed for extra support try moving your leg back and forth and bending at the knee.
If the muscle pain is in your calf, try sitting up in bed, wrapping a sheet, blanket, or exercise band around your foot and slowly pulling your foot towards you with the blanket. Hold that position for 30 seconds and repeat until the pain subsides. Elevating your leg can help as well.
If the muscle pain is in the front of your leg, try standing at the foot or side of your bed and, while holding on to the wall for support, shift your weight to your toes, and raise your heels off the floor, very slowly. Bring them back down and repeat motion until the pain subsides.
Finally, if the muscle pain is in your thighs, sit on your bed with your legs straight. Slowly bend forward, sliding your hands down your legs. When it feels like the muscle is stretching hold for 30 seconds then repeat.
In the moment of getting a charley horse or muscle cramp, you may not remember what to do specifically for your thigh versus your calf, and that is okay. The most important thing to remember for when you get a leg cramp is to try and stretch and relax the muscle. The muscle cramp is a sudden involuntary contraction or tightening of the muscle, and your job is to relax it, and stretch it so it goes away.
Massaging the muscle, stretching it, trying to move your leg- those are what you are doing to stop the muscle cramp. You could make a hot bath with some epsom salts to relax your muscle, or applying a warm wash cloth on it. It doesn’t really matter how you stretch it, but the idea is to stretch the muscle and relax it.
The 7 Ways to Prevent Leg Cramps
Preventing leg cramps is also really important and there are a few ways you can do that.
First, a big cause of leg cramps is dehydration, so the biggest preventer of leg cramps is to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated.
Second, leg cramps may be caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency, especially potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Potassium helps regulate your muscles and heart, and helps your body regulate fluids. Magnesium is anti-inflammatory, helps lower blood pressure, and helps with nerve and muscle function.
Calcium not only helps with bone growth, but also it helps with the cardiovascular system, and helps with muscle contraction. Just be careful when taking calcium and other supplements. Check with your doctor or health advisor to check if it makes sense for you. And know that supplements are just that…a supplement to ones diet, not a replacement for real food.
Third, You may not be getting enough of those three minerals above, and that may be the cause of your leg cramps. Many studies have shown that getting the right amount of those minerals can help prevent cramping in general along with muscle twitches. Vitamin B and Vitamin D can also help your muscles, and prevent muscle cramps.
Fourth, exercise plays a big role in leg cramps as well. You could be overexerting your muscles or not giving them enough rest after a workout. Or, it may be the opposite, and your leg cramps are due to not exercising or stretching enough.
Fifth, sitting in one position for too long can cause your muscles to tighten. Giving your muscles the right amount of exercise, and making sure to stretch before and after a workout and rest your muscles as well, can help prevent and stop muscle cramps from happening.
Sixth and seventh causes could be due to wearing the wrong shoe size and/or body temperature.
It is important to make sure you are wearing the right size of shoe, and that it is comfortable and is the right fit.
Interestingly enough, cold temperatures can constrict your blood vessels, which can also cause your muscles to tighten as well.
You may be getting cramps because of one of the aforementioned things, or it might just happen randomly, but by paying attention to your diet and exercise you can see if leg cramps are a direct cause of something else, and hopefully be able to stop them.
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