This Is How You Can Stop Your Leg Cramps From Cramping Your Style!
Leg cramps uncomfortable, involuntary contractions of the muscles of the leg. It can range from mildly uncomfortable to incredibly painful, depending on how badly the muscle is contracted. Some people experience cramps in their legs rarely, while others happen to have episodes rather frequently. Let’s learn a little more about this unusual but painful condition!
Leg Cramps 101
Leg cramps typically affect the calf muscles. Cramps may last only a few seconds while some can go beyond 10 minutes, averaging at 9 minutes. If they are severe enough, they may even leave tenderness in the legs up to 24 hours after the cramp. Most of the time, you never really find out what caused it, and cramps are often considered harmless. There are rare cases when frequent cramping does indicate an underlying disease like peripheral artery disease or diabetes. Cramps occur more frequently to older people and pregnant women than the general population.
What increases the risk of leg cramps?
Dehydration, certain medications, and flat feet are all factors that increase the risk of developing cramps in the leg muscles. Consumption of large volumes of alcohol has also been related to increasing the risk of cramping, as well as very cold temperatures and awkward movements that may cause strain on the leg muscles.
It is thought that leg cramps are caused by fatigued muscles or perhaps nerve dysfunction, but the reasons are not clear. Night cramps may be caused by your sleeping position which could be causing a shortening of the calf muscles. Muscles that are not accustomed to being used over long periods of time or for high exertion may cramp when strained.
Treatment for Leg Cramps
If you’re someone who suffers from leg cramps from time to time, here are a few simple tips you can follow to alleviate the pain:
a. The most obvious and natural response to a leg cramp is ceasing the activity that likely caused the cramp such as jogging, a specific movement, or lifting something at an awkward angle.
b. The muscle must be stretched and massaged very gently, not forcing the affected area into any position if it resists.
c. The muscle must be held in a stretched position until the cramp subsides.
d. Heat packs can help very tight tensed muscles to relax.
e. Cold packs can help bring relief to tender muscles after a cramping episode.
f. Magnesium supplements are often used by people who experience regular cramping. However, some research has been done which concluded that older adults may not find any relief or benefit from magnesium supplements. It was also unclear whether the treatment would benefit pregnant women.
g. While there are no specific medications available to treat cramps, some over-the-counter painkillers can help bring some relief.
h. Some evidence supports that vitamin B12, calcium channel blockers, and carisoprodol may help alleviate cramping.
Gentle stretches daily — like the kind involved in yoga or the simple act of touching your toes or gripping your feet and stretching the back of the legs — can significantly reduce the occurrence of cramps in the legs. It has also been suggested that walking on your tiptoes for a few minutes can help prevent cramps. Further prevention may be taken by wearing footwear that supports the sole of the foot, particularly the arch or the insole. Loose bedding can also help avoid night cramps caused by the shortening of the calf muscle as you sleep. Increasing your exercise can improve the condition of the muscles in the legs, making them less likely to cramp as they are frequently worked on. Make sure to follow adequate warm-up and cool-down exercises before and after your workouts to ensure that your muscles do not contract involuntarily.
If your leg cramps are a result of a previous injury or an underlying medical condition, you will have to consult with a medical professional before taking any measures of your own accord. Some medications or supplements may not be suitable if you are taking other medications so you will also have to get clear from your doctor before taking any over the counter meds or supplements to help you with your leg cramps. The good thing is that you can perform stretching and daily exercise without worrying about adverse effects, and this is actually probably the best long term treatment of leg cramps!
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