Leg cramps are an indication of an imbalance of electrolytes and minerals in the body that result in abrupt muscle contractions, which can be incredibly painful until they subside.Depending on the underlying cause, replenishing the body with the required nutrients using natural treatments can effectively treat and prevent leg cramps.
Tips To Cure Leg Cramps
Since, leg cramps occur suddenly without any warnings, it is wise enough to know the possible causes and act accordingly to treat this debilitating condition by providing the body with proper nutrition and fluids. Here are a few natural ways of reducing the likelihood of the re-occurrence of leg cramps.
Keep Yourself Well-Hydrated
Dehydration that occurs after a strenuous workout or an outdoor sport in hot weather conditions increases sweating, which eventually leads to the loss of valuable electrolytes like sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium from the body. This deprivation of essential body fluids can have a negative impact on the body and lead to painful leg cramps.
Hence, it is important to drink water before, during and after your exercise and keep certain sports drinks containing essential electrolytes handy before starting an intense workout. Also, avoid dehydrating-caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks while exercising.
Overusing certain muscles during regular exercises like swimming, running, tennis, etc., and a sedentary lifestyle, devoid of any physical activity can both lead to agonizing leg cramps. Hence, it is important to stretch your muscles regularly especially before beginning and finishing your workout for an improved blood circulation in the body.
The leg cramps in the calf that jolt you awake in the middle of the night, most often respond to a combination of gentle muscle stretching exercises and massaging with an up and down kneading motion around the affected areas. Researchers from the New York University’s Langone Medical Center have reported that holding a calf stretch for about 10 seconds, three times daily, that involves standing at an arm’s length from a wall and leaning towards the wall by locking your knees together until you feel a strong pull in your calf muscles, can bring maximum relief from leg cramps.
Other easier ways of dealing with leg cramps include rolling a tennis ball under your bare soles for a few minutes or by just walking by putting your weight on the heel of the affected leg on a daily basis, for providing flexibility to your muscles.
Heat And Cold Therapy
Alternate treatment using heat and cold therapy for 20 minutes each, can provide an instant relief from injuries and leg cramps that occur during your regular workouts. Application of a cold compress can relax the muscles and relieves soreness and tenderness in the muscle and heat relieves the tightness and spasms experienced in the muscles.
Consumption Of Potassium Rich Foods
Potassium plays a major role in the contraction of muscles and in transmitting the nerve impulses through the neuromuscular junction. It also helps in maintaining homeostasis by regulating the pH in the blood, cells and tissues in the body. Low levels of potassium can be caused by severe diarrhea, vomiting, excessive consumption of diuretics like caffeine and alcohol, laxatives and black licorice.
The recommended intake of potassium for curing leg cramps varies with age and hence, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking any potassium supplements. Its dietary sources include fresh fruits like bananas, kiwis, oranges, grapefruits, papaya, melons, apricots, figs, raisins and vegetables like baked potatoes with the skins intact, tomatoes, beans, lettuce, fish and some dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk.
Consumption Of Magnesium Rich Foods
Leg cramps that mostly catch you off guard in the middle of the night can be treated by restoring the levels of magnesium, an electrolytic mineral, which influences the volume of water and pH levels in the body. Almost 30% of pregnant women suffering from leg cramps were found to have a deficiency of magnesium.
Also, certain medications for treating high blood pressure and heart disease can deprive the blood of its magnesium content and therefore, a daily intake of at least 400 milligrams of magnesium is needed to prevent leg cramps.
Although, increase in the dietary intake of magnesium through foods like whole grains, legumes and leafy vegetables can restore mild deficiencies, magnesium supplements like Amino-Mag 200 at bed time may be required to address severe deficiencies. Excess of magnesium can lead to diarrhea and hence, it is most often used as a supplement in massage oils, whose application on the affected areas can eliminate or significantly reduce the episodes of leg cramps.
Consumption Of Calcium Rich Foods
Yet another dietary approach for treating leg cramps, is to consume sufficient amount of calcium, mostly found in foods like sesame seeds, dried herbs, flax seeds, brazil nuts, green leafy vegetables, almonds and in dairy products like tofu, cheese, yogurt, milk, etc. Among the various functions that calcium serves in the body, one of the most important roles it plays is in contracting, relaxing and strengthening the muscles and the bones.
Besides nutritional imbalances and an intense workout, hormonal imbalances like the lack of estrogen and vitamin D prevent sufficient absorption of calcium by the muscles and bones thereby, leading to involuntary muscle contractions causing leg cramps. In such instances, supplementing your body with enough calcium supplements can ease your leg cramps.
Hence, the implementation of these simple natural remedies can save you from spending on over-the-counter or prescription supplements for relieving and preventing leg cramps, which are basically not free from unwanted side effects. A healthy and a well-balanced diet can help your body in retaining adequate levels of minerals that prevent sudden tightening of muscles and alleviates the symptoms associated with leg cramps.
However, bouts of frequent leg cramps can also be caused by other medical conditions like diabetes, pregnancy, parkinson’s disease, depression, thyroid diseases, etc., Also ingestion of excess quantity of the above mentioned minerals can interact with certain drugs being used thus, leading to serious health problems. Therefore, it is a must to consult your doctor before incorporating them into your diet, to help you understand the correct dosage required by your body.
Caution: Please use Home Remedies after Proper Research and Guidance. You accept that you are following any advice at your own risk and will properly research or consult healthcare professional.