Prevent Nighttime Leg Cramps

No one wants to wake up to excruciating leg cramps. Learn how to relax those muscles so you can sleep soundly

A good massage before bed helps loosen tight leg muscles

Waking up to painful leg cramps during the night? Here’s how to relax tight muscles before you sleep

It happens without warning. You’re lying in bed when your calf muscles suddenly go into a painful, involuntary spasm, sometimes accompanied by cramping in your feet or thighs.

You’re experiencing nighttime leg cramps.

While nighttime leg cramps are common and usually harmless, in some situations they have been associated with an underlying disorder, such as peripheral vascular disease or a metabolic disorder.

Leg Cramp Causes

Among the more common triggers for leg cramps are:

  • Dehydration
  • Overusing your muscles
  • Sitting or standing on hard surfaces for a long time
  • Sleeping with your legs in unusual positions
  • A potassium, calcium or other mineral deficiency
  • Use of certain medications
  • Having flat feet
  • Having thyroid disease

Leg Cramp Treatments

To treat leg cramps, try these methods:

  • Try walking off the cramp
  • Gently stretch your calf muscles
  • Take a hot shower or warm bath
  • Rub your calf with an ice pack
  • Some medications and supplements may help

Most leg cramps are a painful annoyance. However, if you have severe and persistent cramping, you have medical problems, or if you develop muscle weakness along with leg cramps, see your doctor.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.