Being jolted out of a peaceful slumber by the intense pain and discomfort of leg cramps is shocking.
More often than not, leg cramps or muscle spasms hit the calf muscles (calf muscle cramps are sometimes referred to as “charley horses”). But cramps hit the front and back of the thigh muscles, too.
Here’s how to stop, or at least cut down on night leg cramps.
1. Stretch your legs.
Unstretched muscles may be more prone to cramping, especially for people over 50, who report more nighttime leg cramps than younger people. This is likely due to muscles shortening with age.
If you have a few free minutes, loosen up your calf, hamstring, and quad muscles with some stretches during the day or before bed.
2. Be as active as possible.
Underused muscles may be more prone to cramping.
Work, school, and other obligations keep us on tight schedules. But getting in a bit of exercise in your free moments during the week may keep the cramps away.
If you only have time at night, try to do some light exercise just before bed, along with your stretching. Just make sure not to overdo it. Overstimulating muscles causes muscles fatigue, which can cause leg cramps.
3. Stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes.
Experts think dehydration can cause cramps. Try to drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water a day.
When you sweat from exercise or any strenuous activity, drink extra water and eat something healthy to replenish electrolytes.
Healthy foods and drinks like bananas, watermelon, milk and yogurt, and coconut water can help restore your electrolyte balance.
Also, try to avoid having too many drinks that contribute to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, such as coffee and alcoholic beverages.
4. Take a warm shower or apply heat before bed.
Sore, tired leg muscles are more prone to cramping. Taking a warm or hot shower or applying heat to them before bed can loosen and relax muscles and prevent night cramps.
5. Loosen your bedding.
If your sheets are tucked in so that your feet and legs can’t move freely, they are too tight. Loosen your bedding so that you can stretch out and shift comfortably.
6. Wear comfortable or orthopedic shoes.
Go easy on your legs by wearing comfortable shoes or even orthopedic shoes when you can. When your shoes don’t provide arch support, your leg muscles compensate, leading to muscle fatigue and cramps.
Pain Management at Texas Pain Physicians
Do you or someone you know have nighttime leg cramps? Would you like to schedule an appointment with a top-rated, board-certified pain management specialist? Please get in touch with us today at (972) 636-5727.