Leg cramps can definitely cramp your style. You could be out for a run or just drifting off to sleep when—wham! It happens. You’re having a muscle cramp. Leg cramps are painful spasms that typically occur in the calf muscles. Leg cramps can jolt you awake in the dead of night, but can also strike at any time during the day while running or simply walking around. Some leg cramps can last anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes.
Read on to discover what exactly a leg cramp is, and what may be causing them to begin with!
The Science Behind a Cramp
Muscles have two states: relaxed and contracted. A cramp is when a muscle tightens in the contracted state. When a muscle is relaxed, all of the fibers in the muscle are elongated. Muscles will cramp up when the muscle outstrips the flow of blood and supply of oxygen. Basically, when the blood supply to your leg muscles is compromised in any way, the muscles will more than likely cramp up.
What Causes Leg Cramps?
Almost everyone will experience a muscle cramp, particularly charley horses, at some time, and they may seem to come without warning. So what causes leg cramps? Essentially, cramps are a sign that things are off-kilter. There are many possible causes which may include:
- Poor blood circulation in the legs
- Overexertion of the calf muscles during exercise
- Exercising in the heat
- Muscle fatigue
- Magnesium or potassium deficiency
- Calcium deficiency in pregnant women
- Pinched nerve in the neck or back
- Spinal cord injury
- Muscle cramps may also happen as a side effect of some drugs.
How Can You Relieve a Leg Cramp?
So what should do about these leg cramps? We’ve gathered some effective treatments for leg cramps you can start using today:
- Take potassium and magnesium supplements (or eat foods rich with these nutrients)
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol
- Do leg stretches before bedtime
- Drink lots of water and eat a well-balanced meal before participating in any activity
Leg cramps can be a great nuisance, and treating them can sometimes be a challenge. Keep these helpful tips in mind for preventing leg cramps before they jolt you awake at night or disrupt your day.
Having tummy troubles? Here are common causes of abdominal pain and treatment options to banish belly pain.
For more health tips like these, follow us on Facebook!