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Leg Cramps: A Problem At Night

By Tom Herrin 

Have you ever been awakened at night by leg cramps?  They just seem to hit you while you’re sleeping.  You try to move, or get up, and everything you do seems to make it worse.  When you have finally managed to get yourself righted and on the floor, the next thing you do is try to walk.  It may still be hurting like everything until you have "walked it off" a little.  After you have done a few laps around the house and have begun to relax a little, you try to sneak back into bed.  You know if you get back in too fast, those cramps will hit you again.  

What Causes Them?

There may be any of a variety of causes, but in order to have a chance to identify it, you need to evaluate your own personal habits.  Ask yourself if this happens frequently or only occasionally.  That may make a lot of difference.  If it is occasionally, how was your activity different those days?  Many times it is, simply, that you have overworked yourself.  I’ve known football referees who complained of leg cramps the night after a game.  Obviously, they were not doing much conditioning on a regular basis.  Gradual building up can help the muscles to be ready for an activity.  Also, if possible, exerting those muscles earlier in the day can allow them "winding down" to become acclimated before a sudden stop of activity.  If they are frequent, the cause may be that something missing. 

Is The Problem Solvable?

You hope so.  Pregnant women have it and deal with it in different ways.  They just make sure they are getting all the supplements and proper diet and exercise. Obviously, I am not a woman and haven’t been pregnant, but I’ve been married to a woman through six pregnancies.  I’ve witnessed those cramps.  However, some other causes might be medication, diet, etc.  I already mentioned gradual, regular exercise. 

What Can I Do?

It will, probably, take some experimenting to find what helps best, but there are several things that can often produce results in a short period of time.  First, and foremost, be sure you are drinking enough water.  This is critical for the cells to work properly.  They could be starving for it.  Next, many people take a multivitamin on a regular basis.  This couldn’t hurt anyway.  Often, potassium, calcium, and/or magnesium may be needed.  Those supplements are available in various forms.  So, add those supplements to regular rest, plenty of fluids, and regular exercise.  Chances are you will be able to see some relief with a conscious effort.  Keep in mind that if none of this works, see your doctor.


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