What Are Nocturnal Leg Cramps?
Cramps can be described as involuntary contractions of the feet muscles that may lead to severe pain and temporary immobility. They last anywhere between a few seconds to minutes or hours and can be quite painful. Cramps usually occur in smooth muscle tissue or skeletal muscles. When it comes to nocturnal leg cramps, they’re basically the same thing, but occur only overnight.
We’ve all experienced nocturnal leg cramps at some point in our lives. Commonly confused with restless leg syndrome, nocturnal leg cramps have different symptoms. The most obvious one is that these cramps don’t allow movement unlike RLS. Additionally, they’re so painful that the affected muscles may even be sore in the morning.
Main Causes of Nocturnal Leg Cramps
In most cases, cramps occur due to lack of electrolytes or sodium. However, lack of other minerals can also lead to these painful cramps. Lower levels of magnesium, zinc, iodine, and potassium may be the culprit behind the condition as well. Some experts associate nocturnal leg cramps with poor circulation, muscle overload, thyroid problems, and overuse of certain drugs.
Even though they’re quite painful and hard to resolve, there are many simple natural ways of eliminating nocturnal leg cramps.
Here are some of the best ones:
Whenever a nocturnal leg cramp strikes in the middle of the night, stretching the painful muscle can relieve the pain. Combine it with a massage and the pain should be gone pretty soon.
Regular physical activity is the simplest way to prevent nocturnal leg cramps. You also need to avoid standing or sitting for prolonged periods. Just start moving more and your muscles should relax.
Not being hydrated properly is one of the biggest culprits behind nocturnal leg cramps. Make sure to drink plenty of water to keep your muscles working properly. Stay hydrated (2-3 l. of water per day) and you won’t wake up overnight with cramped muscles.
Epsom Salt Baths
If your nocturnal leg cramp occur due to low levels of magnesium, Epsom salt baths are a great way to raise them. Apart from this, taking these baths will also relax your muscles and soothe the pain in your legs and feet.
Raise Your Magnesium Intake
Just like Epsom salt baths, raising your magnesium intake naturally is another great way of preventing nocturnal leg cramps. You can find the mineral in abundance in avocados, bananas, nuts and seeds, and dry fruit.
Additionally, you can also prepare your own magnesium oil at home in order to soothe the pain in your muscles and prevent the condition. Boil ½ a cup of water, then add the same amount of magnesium chloride flakes. Let the oil cool down before massaging the sore muscles gently. Do this every night before going to bed to prevent nocturnal leg cramps once and for all.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to prevent nocturnal leg cramps. Whenever one strikes in the middle of the night, use any of the aforementioned techniques to stop the pain and help the muscle relax rather than taking pills or supplements.