I've suffered through terrible leg cramps after intense exercise--biking and running. Nothing seemed to relieve them except time--I often would be up the entire night. I tried Hammer Endurolyte capsules and they work like a dream. I don't usually pop a pill to solve a problem, but this works every time. I also started tracking potassium on the Nutrition Tracker and found I wasn't getting near enough potassium through diet. Now I make a point to eat food high in potassium--dates, avocados, potatoes (do not peel--potassium will be lost as most of it is next to the peel), coconut water, and banana.
I would wake up with oh so severe leg cramps in the middle of the night. They could start in my foot and go all the way up into my groin. Sometimes i knew it was from dehydration and/or fatigue, especially if i'd had alcohol before bed; but many times for no apparent reason. They were agonizing! I'm pretty stoic about pain, but these made me cry out awfully! My daughter told me about the bar-of-soap-under-the-sheets trick. I thought it was a bunch of bunk, but one night in desperation I rubbed a bar of soap on my cramping thigh. Poof! Gone! So I started to keep a small hotel-sized bar of soap under the sheets, and the cramps stopped. When the cramps started coming back I googled and found that you have to replace with a freshly unwrapped bar every now and then. So, I did, and - no more cramps. I know it's crazy and no one knows why this works, but it really did work for me.
The potassium in bananas helps prevent charley horses (because of the sodium-potassium pump). I'd been eating a banana everyday and working out. Then one day I skipped the banana and that night I immediately got a charley horse.
I really don't know why they are caused but dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance definitely seem to play a role , especially for me. I seem to get leg cramps after traveling and extreme exertion. Both cases are sometimes accompanied by low water intake which obviously upsets the internal chemical balance. I also find that tonic water works.
I don't know how to get rid of them permanently but to relieve them when they occur you have to pull your toes up towards your knees to elongate the calf muscles. The normal response is to point your toes and that only makes the cramp worse. So...point toes up towards your nose rather than away from it. It's foolproof.
10/7/2011 1:40:04 PM
I agree with LLUCKE. Drink Milk! I get let cramps at night (I would say like the commercials that it's restless leg syndrome) and sometimes charley horses in the arch of my foot or calves. But I can have a glass of milk and they stop. Lately, I have been trying to get back into drinking milk twice a day. I do eat alot of greens but the milk helps. No more problems with the pain and I sleep better. About 2 years ago I started drinking Organic Milk. I just buy store brand. We switch be/c we weren't drinking as much (kids in college) and it was going bad too quickly. Did you know that organic milk is good for a month or 2 in your refrigerator? And it tastes better. Makes me wonder what exactly is in regular milk that it spoils so quickly.
Magnesium Phosp 6X is a great under the tongue homeopathic cure that stops them almost instantly! Magnesium relaxes muscles (that is why they recommend mag supplements be taken at bedtime - they make you snoozy)
10/7/2011 10:36:13 AM
I suffered with terrible night leg cramps for years and wound up in the emergency room one night because of them. The doctor found that I had terribly low potassium levels from years of low-carb dieting. Supplements only contain 99mg and you need between 3500 and 4500mg per day. This means you must make sure you get enough through diet. So I added potassium to my nutrition tracker, did a google search for "potassium rich foods" and posted the list on my fridge. I have not had a SINGLE cramp in 2 years since I started getting enough potassium!!! ( And I run and workout all the time!!!)
10/7/2011 10:00:59 AM
I agree that stretching helps if there is an underlying cause. There are many medical conditions that I have read in the other comments. If you have persistent cramps it's time to see a doctor IMO. I have had problems with my potassium levels which cause cramps that last for hours. Potassium level can be high or low and cause cramps.
10/7/2011 7:54:40 AM
This article is a little misleading as there are many things that cause muscle cramps...not just muscle fatigue due to excercise (although it definitely can cause them!). Looking over the other comments, it seems that many are dealing with night time cramps that are likely not excersize dependant. Please know that many cramps are simply dietary dependant...whether it be due to dehydration or something else such as a calcium/potassium/magnesium deficiency. Some medications can cause them too...for example, diuretics (water pills). If you are taking medications and experience muscle cramping regularly, PLEASE talk to your doctor about it. He/She can offer great advice as to what is likely causing it and what you can do to help relieve it.
I suffered from horribly intense leg cramps in the middle of the night. They woke me up, and there was little I could do to stretch out and relieve the cramp (and therefore the pain). I would roll around on the floor writhing in pain, unable to walk. The cramps entailed every muscle from my knee to my ankle...so if I attempted to stretch out the calf muscles, the muscles on the front of my leg cramped more intensely. Then if I attempted to stretch out the front muscles, the calf muscles cramped more...it was a no win situation. I tried bananas thinking I needed more potassium...the cramps actually intensified...YIKES! Luckily I know a thing or two about body systems including the calcium channel and such (blah blah blah...). I also knew that I was getting little to no calcium and vit D in my diet. So I decided to try something different. The next time I had a cramp, I chugged a glass of milk (barf-city in my oppinion). But it worked like a charm! The cramp began to ease pretty quickly and I was able to stretch and walk it off in no time. I was actually able to go back to sleep and not have another episode the entire night...eye opening experience for me. I've since gotten a lot smarter about it and have added more calcium to my diet and make sure I am well hydrated as well. I no longer get cramps in the night! Dark green, leafy veggies...milk (hot chocolate is my personal fave)...yogurt...cheese...ice cream (yum!)...for those who absolutely cannot stand any of these things, there are some pretty yummy calcium chews out there that will also do the trick...they're like eating tootsie rolls or caramel...not sure how you can justify not getting enough calcium these days.
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