Leg cramps are a problem familiar to quite a few. Very often they occur at night when you sleep peacefully and then wake up to sharp pain in your legs. It feels similar to a spasm in your leg which can make it hard to move. Some cramps last only a few seconds, while others can take a few minutes to go away completely. It is unlikely that such feelings can be called pleasant, and the worst thing about the cramps is that they come out of nowhere and all the time unexpectedly. Let’s try to figure out what causes cramps in the legs and how we can stop it.
Causes of Leg Cramps
The is so far is the most common cause of muscle cramps at night. Leg cramps at night are also known as nocturnal cramps.
There is a couple of different reasons, and the main one may be due to the lack of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Micronutrient deficiencies can occur due to the intake of certain medications that slow down the absorption of magnesium. Throughout these drugs may be antacid agents used to treat heartburn.
Also, micronutrient deficiency occurs during pregnancy, as the woman’s body loses them for both self-maintenance and the baby’s growth.
Sometimes, the absorption of calcium is hindered by high protein diets. It goes along with a vitamin D deficiency, as the calcium is best digested when consumed together with vitamin D.
In addition, stress and sweating may be the causes of micronutrient deficiencies, leading to electrolyte imbalance. The latter reason is especially relevant in the summer, and therefore cramps in the leg muscles occur much more often in the warm season.
Physical activity and sports
During movement, your nervous system sends two signals to your muscles – first to contract, then another to relax, thus making your muscles to lengthen and shorten. Cramps occur due to the constant tension of the muscles and lack of relaxation, or when your muscles don’t get a signal to relax. Exercise, or just sometimes just a random movement, usually causes cramps in the calves, since the calf muscles account for the maximum load.
When your muscles are overworked or tired, they may not be absorbing enough minerals that can help your muscle tissue relax after contracting. So it also brings us back to the fact that lack of micronutrients may lead to a cramp.
Retarded blood flow may come to be another reason for the cramps in legs. Therefore it is advised not to wear too tight clothing when you exercise. Uncomfortable and tight things slow down the blood circulation to your muscles. In a result, the muscles may not be getting enough oxygen they need to function.
How to Deal with Leg Cramps
Since the sensations during the leg cramps are very painful, the measures have to be taken immediately. If you are exercising, it is best to stop exercising and to stretch the aching leg out. Massaging the affected area will also help to relax and stimulate your leg.
Also, you may try to stand up, take off your socks and shoes, and despite the painful sensations, try taking a walk. Preferably on a hard cold surface, and not on a carpet. It will help get your blood flowing and to loosen the muscle.
Sometimes muscle cramps happen while swimming. It’s important that you know your body and that it may be prone to convulsions because it may hinder your movement under the water. Prickling the area with a sharp object helps to quickly remove cramps. Some people who know that they are prone to convulsions fasten a safety pin to their swimming suit.
Overall, it is very important that you know your body. Before your work out, it is very advisable to warm up and stretch, especially the muscles you are going to work on. Try to stay hydrated all the time, mainly at hot seasons and if you are doing an intensive work out. Lastly, what is most important, make sure you include enough nutrients into your diet. You may consider including more of green leafy vegetables, nuts and wholegrain cereals as far as they contain plenty of magnesium.