Night leg cramps or nocturnal leg cramps are painful muscle contractions or spasms that occur at night. They usually appear in the lower leg, but they can also be felt in the thighs and feet. The pain is described as severe and sharp and it usually causes the person to wake up. The pain lasts for few seconds or minutes. After the pain is gone, the muscles are still sore and this may continue up until the following night and day as well. Both men and women, older than 50, are affected by this phenomenon.
Leg cramps vs. restless leg syndrome
Even though both of these phenomena occur at night while you’re sleeping, they’re not one and the same. Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder which causes an uncontrollable and overwhelming urge to move your legs. While moving the legs, you feel a sense of relief. This is not the case with leg cramps. The main reasons for the occurrence of leg cramps are certain medications, standing on concrete floors, pregnancy, alcoholism, sitting for a prolonged period of time, improper sitting posture, and certain exercises.
How to prevent leg cramps:
- Take a warm bath before bed
- Do water exercises to build the leg muscles
- Stretch the legs before going to bed
- Take more potassium and magnesium
- Use horse chestnut to improve the circulation in the legs
- Wear ergonomic shoes
- Put a heating pad to the area where you feel a cramp
How to get relief from the spasms:
- Put both legs in front of you and sit on the floor. Next, bend the feet and point the toes toward the knees.
- Get up slowly and turn around a bit. You can also shake your legs to better the blood flow.
- Rub the region carefully with circular movements.
- Take a tsp of yellow mustard.