Waking up is hard enough to do — it’s even worse when a leg cramp rouses you from an otherwise peaceful slumber. When nighttime leg cramps strike, you want rapid relief so that you can get back to the business of making Zzz’s.
What can you do to treat the issue and, more crucially, keep it from disturbing your sleep in the first place? Here are eight natural remedies for leg cramps you should try at home to ease the ache.
Shortages in any of your electrolytes — most notably, sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium — can cause leg cramps. However, many Americans get more than adequate salt intake. Too much potassium can cause small bowel lesions, which is why most manufacturers limit their dosage of this supplement.
However, many Americans fail to get adequate magnesium, causing a host of unpleasant health effects, including leg cramps. The problem likely stems from how manufacturers strip the nutrient-dense bran away from wheat when making white flour, in essence, rinsing a vital source of this mineral down the drain.
Insufficient magnesium levels can lead to depression-like symptoms and spur migraines. Getting a little bit more of this mineral in your life could boost your mood and ease pain in more than one way. Go slow with supplementation, though — too much too quickly can lead to distressing gastrointestinal symptoms.
Another electrolyte that many Americans lack is calcium, which contributes to leg cramp frequency. Like magnesium, supplementing with this mineral can deliver added health benefits — adequate intake helps to stave off osteoporosis.
While supplements do help, many people find that they absorb nutrients more effectively through foods. Strive to get more of the following in your diet:
- Sardines and canned fish: Fish that contains the bones is high in calcium.
- Dairy products: You’re probably most familiar with these sources of the mineral. Those who don’t tolerate plain milk might do well with yogurt or cheese.
- Deep, leafy greens: Food like broccoli and kale contain high levels of this nutrient. Plus, they are plant-based.
3. Sports Drinks
If your leg cramps result from insufficient sodium or potassium levels, sports drinks can help. Even diet cola provides some of your recommended daily allowance of both minerals.
However, do keep in mind that many sports drinks contain hefty doses of sugar. Excess intake can increase your diabetes risk, which in turn ups the chances you’ll suffer kidney failure or heart disease. Read your labels and stick to consuming no more than one bottle per day unless you run a marathon.
4. High Potassium Foods
Another way to see if inadequate potassium intake will work as a natural remedy for leg cramps is to increase your intake of foods rich in the mineral. Doing so may benefit your heart health, as this substance helps balance the effects of excess sodium (salt) intake.
To get more potassium in your diet, chow down on the following:
- Sweet potatoes
- Cooked spinach and broccoli
5. Better Shoes
The wrong shoes strain your muscles, ligaments and tendons. When these become inflamed, your brain’s pain messages to your legs can become crossed, signaling cramps.
Take time to get a professional shoe fitting, at least for those pairs you wear daily. You need the right gear for athletics, and if you wear the same models to the office day in and day out, they can also affect your stride and gait. Those who wear heels might find they cramp up more because these varieties shorten your calf muscle.
Stretching is an ideal way to release toxins and waste trapped in muscle fibers that can cause cramping. Yoga unites both breath and body movements to restore you to feeling better more quickly.
You can find tons of different varieties, from gentle restorative yin to super-athletic ashtanga. Try unwinding at night with some relaxing stretches in bed — doing so might keep you from waking up clutching your calves.
Like yoga, massage helps to relax muscle fibers and release toxins. Fortunately, it’s relatively simple to give yourself a leg rub — it’s far less problematic than reaching your back.
Use a firm, circular motion to break down stubborn knots and encourage them to relax. If you have the means, a weekly treatment could significantly reduce symptoms.
Dehydration often causes leg cramps, particularly on hot days or when taking vigorous exercise. If you don’t yet carry your bottle with you everywhere, please get in the practice today.
Most folks wake up with a bit of dry mouth in the morning. However, if you frequently wake up parched, employ this natural leg cramp remedy. Overindulging in alcohol the night before can dehydrate you, as can pushing yourself so hard, you collapse into bed exhausted without rehydrating first.
Try These 8 Natural Remedies for Leg Cramps at Home
Try these eight natural remedies for leg cramps to treat the issue and prevent it from recurring. There’s no need to interrupt your pleasant dreams night after night.