Leg cramps can be horrible! It can be a cramp that wakes you up at night or a cramp that bothers you throughout the day. Most often, leg cramps are a result of lifestyle activities, so they can be dealt with by making simple corrections and changes. But, in other cases, a leg cramp can be a sign of a serious health issue that might need immediate attention. So, if you do get them often or if you notice a completely new kind of leg pain, please consult your doctor. However, if you’re dealing with yet another annoying but harmless cramp, follow these causes and treatments of leg cramps and you’ll never have to deal with them again.
1. Too much or too little exercise
What happens and why: Lack of exercise or over-exercising your body are common causes of leg cramps. When your muscles remain dormant, they tend to become weak. When you suddenly contract your muscles, you experience those painful spasms. Similarly, when you overwork yourself at the gym, your muscles endure a more aggressive contraction than what they are used to. Hence, the pain.
What to do: Be regular and steady with your workouts. If you plan to increase the intensity of your workouts, make it gradual so that your body can adjust to it. If your muscles feel sore, an ice pack and a brief period of rest are essential.
2. Your body posture throughout the day and night
What happens and why: Your posture throughout the day and while you sleep are important for the functioning of your muscles. If you slouch a lot, tend to stand for long hours, or even sleep in odd postures, your muscles become prone to painful leg cramps.
What to do: Apart from maintaining a good posture, you can also practise yoga to stretch your muscles. It will improve your body posture and give you long-term relief.
3. Another glorious thing about pregnancy
What happens and why: People often complain of leg cramps during pregnancy, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. There is no proven reason behind this but doctors suggest it may be a result of the pressure the uterus puts on some nerves and decreased blood circulation due to the growing baby’s pressure on blood vessels.
What to do: Basic and gentle stretching of the calf muscles is the best reliever during pregnancy, especially before going to bed. Be active and include some regular low-intensity exercises to keep your muscles worked. And massages always help too!
4. Your medications could be doing the trick
What happens and why: There are some medications that are known to promote or induce leg spasms in older adults. This is considered to be a side effect of medicines like statins, inhalers, and diuretics that often cause fatigue and weakness as the medicines are pretty strong on your nervous system.
What to do: Take alternative medicines that are safer and have fewer side effects. If the medicines are irreplaceable, try soothing your muscles with massages and regular stretches.
5. A dehydrated body’s call for help
What happens and why: When the muscles in your body are not surrounded by the right amount of water and sodium, they become too sensitive and react to contractions with spasms or cramps. It’s your body’s defence mechanism that often leaves you with sore muscles.
What to do: The solution is too simple in this case. Just make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. If you sweat too much, you need to compensate accordingly. You can also try sports drinks that have extra sodium in them.
6. Is your diet nutritious enough?
What happens and why: Your muscles need some minerals for smooth, uninterrupted functioning. If you do not consume a healthy and complete diet, your body may lack essentials like potassium, calcium, and sodium.
What to do: Make some healthy additions to your diet to keep those dreaded spasms at bay. Bananas, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, cheese, yoghurt, and pickled food are good choices.
7. A sign of a more serious illness
What happens and why: Most often, leg cramps occur due to easily treatable causes. But leg cramps are also known to be a sign of serious illnesses like a blood disorder, liver disease, or even a thyroid or nervous disorder.
What to do: Pay attention to your lifestyle. If you can’t pin down a cause for your cramps from the above, you should consider visiting a doctor for a detailed examination.