Leg cramps are strong sudden contractions of muscles in the leg, which can be extremely painful. As common as they are, they indicate lack of vitamins, minerals, stress or even an undiagnosed illness and they need to be treated or, in any case, prevented. For this reason, let’s go over some of the key-aspects of leg cramps: causes, treatment and prevention.

 

Causes of leg cramps

A deficit of blood supply – in this case we are talking about a medical condition: arteriosclerosis, which is defined as the narrowing of the arteries. Muscle contractions are triggered, usually, by exercise.

Low minerals – a reduction in the quantity of calcium, magnesium and potassium in your body can cause muscle cramps. If you have a workout schedule that you have recently started, mineral depletion can trigger leg cramps in the morning, when you stretch.

Workout – too much, too early can lead to leg cramps. That, because after a long period of inactivity, the muscles go through a great deal of stress during a workout session.

Dehydration – it is connected to the above-mentioned causes, to which you can add the use of diuretics, which also depletes the body from minerals.

Illnesses – Addison’s disease, liver cancer, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes.

Other causes: pregnancy, flatfeet, substance abuse, some medication.

If not associated to other symptoms, leg cramps don’t indicate the presence of an illness.

 

 

Leg cramps usually affect the calf.
Photo: Visualhunt

 

Treatment of leg cramps

Immediate – the second it happens, there isn’t much you can do but to massage the area. The sharp pain triggered by the contraction of the muscle, usually in the calf, will start dissipating in less than a minute. The calf can remain mildly painful for a few minutes to a few hours.

The following hour – soak a piece of cloth in hot water, where you have previously melted some Epsom salts. Press it on the painful area – where you felt the cramp, even if it is gone by now.

The following hours – drink plenty of water. Sports drinks with electrolytes are indicated for preventing another cramp.

The next days – start a cure with calcium, magnesium and potassium. Do stretching exercises every day. Continue to workout (if you have started a routine) and stay hydrated.

 

Prevention

Mineral cocktail – calcium, magnesium and potassium supplements have proven to be very effective

Hydrate – drink at least two liters of water per day. Every day.

Massage – book a weekly appointment to a massage therapist. They work wonders on leg cramps.

Exercise – start a workout schedule, if you aren’t already doing this. Even light exercise is good for regulating the blood flow and keeping your body in a general wellness state.