Do you ever have leg cramps in the night, or do you wake up because someone else in your household is having a bout of this pain? If so, you know it can be agonizing. I woke before dawn this morning as my husband was experiencing it. I asked if I could massage his leg. He said there was nothing I could do. Oh yes, there is, I thought to myself. I will blog about home remedies for leg cramps. So here we go…
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What Causes Nighttime Leg Cramps?
If you go to bed with tight muscles, you are more likely to cramp than if you do some stretching exercises (or ride a stationary bicycle) around bedtime. Another cause can be dehydration, so be sure to drink plenty of water and other fluids during the day. Being hydrated has various health benefits; in this case, it helps your muscles relax properly.
The esteemed Mayo Clinic offers essentially the same advice that I saw on forums and reviews around the internet: stretch your legs and drink enough. Here’s a page on their site about the relatively rare times when you should see a doctor for nocturnal leg cramps. This would be if you are cramping very often, have been exposed to a toxin, or are experiencing degradation of daytime functioning or of muscles. I also learned on another of the several pages the Mayo Clinic has on the subject that quinine used to be used as a treatment but is no longer because it has side effects.
These cramps occur most frequently in the calf muscles but can also happen in your feet or in your thighs. They seem to become more common with age.
CAN You Remedy a Leg Cramp?
It depends. It’s different every time. Some cramps respond well to standing on the affected leg. For years if my husband spent much time on a ladder during the day, as he did when building our house, he would get a cramp quite often that night and it would respond well to standing. Recently he has been having another kind of cramp, lower in his calf, which so far doesn’t seem to respond to anything. That’s really why I’m writing this article, to see what his choices are. And what yours are! I discovered in the course of my research that many people suffer from this problem.
In a nutshell, I’ve learned that yes, you CAN remedy a leg cramp, though likely not every single one you ever get. You can set yourself up to have fewer of them (exercise and hydration again, among other things) and there are things you can do in the moment.
What Are the Natural Remedies for Leg Cramps at Night?
Some of the most popular natural remedies to do in advance include:
- Eating a banana daily, for the potassium.
- Doing stretches before bed. Some friends of ours recommend standing on one leg (and holding on to a table or chair for balance) while bending the knee of the other leg up behind you.
- Experiment with avoiding dairy products, especially in the evening.
- Put a bar of soap under the sheets. (HUH? Well, I came across this several times! Placebo or more?)
- Sleep on your back with a small pillow or rolled-up towel under your knees.
- Supplements people recommend include potassium, magnesium, calcium, Hylands Homeopathic Leg Remedy, and Vitamin B Complex.
Here are some of these products:
Hyland’s, Leg Cramps, 100 TabletsHyland’s Leg Cramp Ointment, Homeopathic Calf, Leg and Foot Cramp Relief, 2.5 OunceNature Made Calcium Magnesium Zinc Tablets with Vitamin D, 300 CountNature’s Bounty Super B-complex with Folic Acid Plus Vitamin C, 150-CountNow Foods Potassium Citrate 99 mg Capsules, 180-Count
And here are some ideas to try in the moment:
- Stand on the cramping leg (if both are cramping, stand on them both).
- Walk around.
- Massage the place where it hurts the most.
- Put an ice pack on it or a heating pad. Or get up and take a hot shower. Either heat or cold may help.
- Lying in bed, straighten your leg and move your toes up so your foot is at a angle with your leg, flexing it towards you.
- A teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water is said to work quickly for some people.
I found a lot of discussion on various forums around the web; here is one that has pages of leg cramp solutions people swear by. (That’s on a whole site about all sorts of home remedies, by the way… I began poking around and was fascinated.)
What About the Popular Amish Remedy for Leg Cramps?
I first noticed Caleb Treeze Organic Farms Stops Leg & Foot Cramps by the check-out counter of our local food coop, a clue to me that it was a popular product. Here it is in a three-pack as well. So I came home and did some research at Amazon.com.
This stuff, self-described as an Amish remedy for leg cramps, is VERY popular, with many hundreds of readers highly recommending it and telling their experiences with it. There are pros and cons, of course. It is said to taste pretty bad and it’s suggested that you have a chaser of orange juice or at least water.
What’s in it? It’s a proprietary blend of apple cider vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Good healthy stuff.
Here’s the Amish remedy. The comments are very interesting and encouraging.
The Best Home Remedies for Leg Cramps
Well, naturally, the best home remedy for leg cramps is the one that works for you. It is likely to take some experimenting before you figure it out. My recommendations: start with a little exercise before bed every night… be diligent about making it a habit. That’s going to be good for anyone, provided you do it in a way that suits your body.
Beyond that, since we are all so individual biochemically, I suggest you try whatever appeals to you. If you only get cramps now and then, it may take you a while to see what helps, but keep at it. The relief will be worth it.
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