What Causes Leg Cramps?
Mostly, the reason for leg cramps is never found however, they are considered harmless. Some of the underlying causes for a muscle cramp are listed below.
- As older people are more prone to leg cramps. Muscle loss starts from the mid-40s and increases if the person is not active. This increases the risk of cramps.
- Muscle Fatigue
- Nerve Dysfunction
- Deficiency of Mineral like Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium
- It can also be associated with underlying medical conditions like spinal nerve compression, alcoholism, pregnancy, kidney failure, diabetes, restless legs syndrome, and hypothyroidism.
Natural Way to Get Rid of Leg Cramps [Home Remedies]
Cramps usually go away on their own without seeing a doctor. However, some home remedies may help you to reduce the pain and the muscle spasm.
1. Heat Therapy or Apply Heating Pad to Relieve Cramps
Cramps are caused due to muscle contractions. Relaxing those parts of the muscle which trigger the cramps may help relieve the pain. Heat is one of the home remedies for leg cramps that people have been using for ages.
The applied heat aids in inducing blood flow, which reduces muscle tightness. This may re-oxygenate and hydrate the tissues, thus easing the tension of the cramp.
Instructions for How to Apply Heat to Reduce Leg Cramp (Charley Horses)
- Heat Water (warm not hot) and dip a clean washcloth in it.
- Apply the warm washcloth on the taut muscle area of your leg.
- Repeat the process for some time, till your muscle relaxes.
- You can also use electric heating pad/hot compress on your muscle spasm and reduce inflammation or swelling on the affected area.
- Apply the heat for 20 minutes, remove the pad for another 20 then reapply it on the leg
2. Stay Hydrated to Get Rid of Charley Horses
Nocturnal Foot cramps are often caused by dehydration. When your body is low on fluids levels, it tends to draw what it needs from the muscles, leaving them dehydrated.
If you get frequent cramps, try and drink more water throughout the day. If you’re physically active (that includes walking, gardening, doing housework or an athlete), you need fluids to avoid dehydration with a balanced intake of water or other fluids.
Tips for Staying Hydrated to Avoid Cramps in Muscles
- Drink two cups of water 2 hours before your workout and another 125 ml of water after every 15 minutes.
- For a person with excessive sweating, consider an energy drink that contains a lot of sodium and electrolytes.
- Hydration is useful if you have been taking alcohol, diuretics, or the temperatures are higher than normal.
3. Epsom Salt Remedy for Muscle Cramp in Legs
Magnesium deficiency in your body may be one of the reasons for the cramps. Taking a warm shower with Epsom Salt may promote muscle relaxation and reduces anxiety levels.
Instructions for Epsom Salt Bath Remedy
- Draw a tub with warm water.
- Put 1-2 cups of Epsom Salt.
- Soak in the bath for 15-20 minutes.
- Repeat twice a day if you are prone to regular cramps
- *Note: Epsom salt is not suitable for individuals with heart conditions, diabetes, or high blood pressure. Please consult a physician in such cases.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Charley Horses may be caused by insufficient potassium levels in your body. Apple Cider Vinegar being rich in potassium may aid in the release of muscle cramps. Potassium maintains the fluid balance and transfers within the body. So, consuming ACV in small quantities can boost the body’s ability to ease tension in those cramped muscles.
- Mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water
- Consume once a day to prevent those cramps in the foot.
- Adding a tablespoon of honey to the mixture may enhance the taste. Drink an hour before sleeping to prevent nighttime leg cramps.
5. Wintergreen Oil to Cure Cramps
Wintergreen essential oil is one of the best remedies to eliminate pain and relieve severely cramped muscles quickly. Wintergreen oil has methyl salicylate that helps in improved blood circulation, thus relieving muscle cramping.
- Mix one portion of wintergreen oil with 4 parts of vegetable oil.
- Apply the mixture to the cramped muscle for quick relief.
- You can use the mixture several times a day for faster recovery.
- *Note: Do not use this with a heating pad, you may burn your skin.
6. Clove Oil
Clove oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties and is highly recommended for people who regularly suffer from muscle. Clove has anesthetic properties, which helps to reduce the pain.
7. Mustard for Leg Cramps
Yellow mustard is believed to be a possible solution for many people who suffer from leg cramps. However, there are no clinical studies to prove the theory that eating yellow mustard before bed will eliminate leg cramps.
One speculation behind the theory is that the acetic acid in yellow mustard facilitates the production of acetylcholine in the body, which drives the muscles to work optimally.
Whatever the reason for mustard’s cramp-preventing properties, the condiment is a tastier alternative to pickle juice or vinegar. Whether athletic-induced or the “night cramps” that wake people from deep sleep, yellow mustard may prove to be beneficial to many.
- Take a tablespoonful of yellow mustard whenever a cramp sets in.
- Take two spoonfuls before going to bed, if you have a chronic cramp in your muscle.
8. Stretching for Muscle Cramps
Sometimes a leg cramp may be triggered when the muscles are too inflexible. For an athlete, runners or sports person, you can get leg cramps if you start an activity without warming up.
A proper warm-up session allows the muscles to stretch and increase circulation, thus preventing spasms.
Stretching is an effective treatment for a muscle cramp, as it will allow blood flow to the site of the cramp and relieve the pressure and tension of the cramp.
Therefore, stretching is both a prevention measure and an effective treatment to cure cramps in the legs.
For full details on stretching to relieve muscle cramps, Read More!
9. Pickle Juice to Cure Leg Cramps
Athletes who suffer from occasional muscle cramps often find pickle juice to be very helpful in reducing the pain and getting the foot muscles working again. Still, the science behind it is still unclear.
The popular theory is that pickle juice contains acetic acid, which helps produce acetylcholine, a necessary agent for muscle functions.
In studies where pickle juice was effective for muscular cramps, researchers used about 1 milliliter per kilogram of body weight. For the average study participant, this was somewhere between 2 to 3 fluid ounces.
10. Electrolytes Balance for Treating Leg Cramps
Low levels of minerals known as electrolytes can contribute to muscle cramps. The two primary electrolytes that relate to muscle cramps are potassium and magnesium.
So, if you are suffering from chronic muscle cramps, there is a good chance you’re lacking these nutrients. Magnesium is commonly found in nuts, beans, and grains, while potassium can be accessed in bananas and cantaloupes.
11. Vitamin E for Nocturnal Leg Cramps
Studies suggest that taking vitamin E improves blood flow through the arteries, which can make it much harder for muscle cramps to form.
12. Calcium for Treating Cramps in Legs
Calcium is one of the most important minerals in our body. From bone density to effective working of the nervous system, proper calcium levels are required for the good functioning of the body.
Many specialists believe that calcium deficiencies are responsible for nighttime calf cramps, as a lack of calcium prevents proper muscle control and movement. You can have calcium-rich foods, like leafy greens, cheese, almonds, and fish or take calcium supplements.
13. Pressure Treatment & Massage Your Legs
Applying the right amount of pressure on an affected area can help relax the muscles. his can come in the form of a gentle massage, or simple pressure being put on the cramped muscle.
Acupressure is one of the traditional home remedies for leg cramps because it is fast and doesn’t require any ingredients.
Everyone experiences leg cramps at some point in their life. While muscle spasms can be very annoying, but they are extremely painful too.
Knowing a few home remedies and tips for leg cramps can save you a lot of sleepless nights and uncomfortable workout sessions.
However, not all solutions listed will work for everyone. In instances where your leg cramps are regular, consult with a proper physician for a treatment.
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I’m Rhea, a fitness enthusiast, and a food lover. I am a housemaker, foodie, writer from NYC. I am a passionate writer and I love exploring places. Since I love cooking and working out, I am sharing my organic food recipes, fitness and beauty tips with the world. Trying to touch lives with some useful information.