Leg Cramps and How to Stop Them
By Sara Butler
You’ve probably been woken up in the middle of the night by an excruciating leg cramp. Leg cramps are no fun at all, but very common. Most people will experience them at some point in their lives, some people more than others. But what causes them and what can you do to banish them from your life? Here’s the lowdown on leg cramps and how you may be able to put a stop to them once and for all.
What Are Leg Cramps?
Leg cramps are sudden, sharp, painful contractions of the muscles in the calf. They can last a few seconds or a few agonizing minutes, often eased by gently stretching the muscle. In order to find a solution to these terrible cramps, you have to first understand the underlying cause of them. If they’re keeping you from doing something you love or disrupting things in your everyday life, then you need to have them addressed by a medical professional.
Common Causes of Leg Cramps
If more serious conditions such as peripheral artery disease or thyroid disease can be ruled out, then one of these common causes may be to blame, such as:
- Dehydration – A classic cause of leg cramps, dehydration can cause the nerve endings in your muscles to become more sensitive, causing painful contractions in muscles.
- Mineral or vitamin deficiency – When you sweat, you lose electrolytes as well as water. Lost electrolytes can trigger muscle contractions, leading to leg cramps. Sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium deficiencies can all trigger cramps. Make sure to replace them after a sweat session by eating foods rich in these minerals such as sweet potatoes, bananas, nuts, or spinach.
- Pregnancy – One of the many lovely side effects of pregnancy, leg cramps can be triggered by a deficiency of key minerals such as potassium and magnesium. If you’re pregnant and leg cramps have started to rear their ugly head, make sure to drink enough water and eat a balanced diet.
- Overuse – Sometimes muscles cramp simply because they’re overworked. The nerves become overexcited, which can result in involuntary cramping. Rest and stretch if you experience this.
If you’re experiencing leg cramps and can’t figure out why, it’s important to seek the help of a medical professional. This is especially true if you already eat a balanced diet, hydrate, and stretch after exercise because it could mean something more serious is going on!
To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in San Jose, Calif.