Anyone that has suffered from leg cramps knows that they can often be quite painful and even debilitating when they occur. However, there are some great natural health remedies that can prevent these cramps from occurring or at least reduce their severity. Read on to learn more.
When our muscles are working normally, they contract one side and lengthen on the other. This is then reversed with the arm or leg moving the other way. Cramping occurs when the muscle spasms and stays contracted. The blood can’t flow into the muscle properly to help it lengthen and pain is caused. The most common leg cramps are called nocturnal cramps. As the name suggests, these cramps are the ones that occur at night, causing you to awaken from the pain. These cramps typically only last for a few minutes but can be quite severe. Cramps can also occur as a result of exercise - by not warming up, not drinking enough water, or overheating are common causes.
There are several natural remedies that can be quite helpful in reducing leg cramps. Some particularly effective ones include:
• Stretching – if you suffer from an exercise related cramp in the leg, you need to stop the exercise and begin stretching out the muscle. Stretching reduces the pressure on the cramped, contracted muscle, allowing it to relax. For example, if you have a cramp in your calf, stretch out the calf muscle. Also remember the importance of warming up and stretching before beginning your exercise in reducing cramps from occurring.
• Acupressure – it may sound odd but squeezing your upper lip by applying pressure with your index finger and thumb is an effective acupressure remedy.
• Increase calcium and magnesium – leg cramps can be a sign of electrolyte imbalance, and one way to fix this is to increase your calcium and magnesium consumption. Supplements are available if necessary. Good food sources of calcium are low fat dairy products, and sardines with bones, and good sources of magnesium include nuts, whole grain foods, and beans. Include lots of leafy greens in your diet.
• Pressure on the muscles – pressing fairly hard directly on the sore muscle for about ten seconds can help to loosen the muscle. Repeat several times if necessary.
• Potassium – a lack of potassium can cause leg cramps. Eat more potassium rich foods such as bananas or consider supplementation.
• Tonic water - contains quinine which can be beneficial for leg cramps. Quinine tablets are another option. Quinine is one of the most effective known treatments.