Also known as a charley horse, leg cramps are truly not fun to experience. In fact, they can be painful for some people who get them! Even worse, you often get them in your sleep or when you least expect it to happen! Luckily there are some home remedies for leg cramps that can ease your discomfort.
Leg cramps can also be prevented sometimes. You first have to figure out what has initially caused your leg to cramp up. Once you figure it out, it will be easier to identify a solution to not only soothe current leg cramps but prevent future ones from happening as often or at all.
What is a Leg Cramp?
A leg cramp is simply when your muscle involuntarily contracts. This most often happens in your calf muscle, but it can also be experienced in your thighs or even your feet.
A leg cramp will usually feel like a painful knot on your leg muscle. You might not even be able to move your leg anymore. Usually, these feelings will pass after a few moments when your muscle loosens up. At that point, the pain will fade away and you’ll be able to move your leg again.
What Causes Leg Cramps?
There are a lot of reasons you experience leg cramps. But some leg cramps happen for no reason at all and can’t be explained. It’s theorized, however, that the sudden leg cramps that happen at night are caused by your muscles being tightened while bent during your sleep. This can possibly trigger a spasm.
A lot of active people will experience leg cramps, especially if you’re doing exercises that include your leg muscles. This includes running, weight training your legs, and sports that involve running and leg movements like soccer.
It’s believed that muscle fatigue can lead to leg cramps. This can especially happen in hotter temperatures or when you’re dehydrated. Always be aware of your body when you’re working out to avoid leg cramps and other side effects of muscle fatigue.
A lot of pregnant people experience more leg cramps than usual. If you are experiencing more leg cramps than usual while pregnant, you should consider contacting your doctor.
There are many medical conditions and other underlying issues that can cause you to have more leg cramps than average. Some of the diseases that cause leg cramps include kidney failure, thyroid issues, diabetes, vascular disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
If you notice more symptoms related to illness aside from leg cramps, contact a doctor. It could be just one side effect of a bigger underlying issue or condition.
It’s been proven that some medications you’re on may lead to more leg cramps than usual. This includes birth control pills, asthma medication, and Aleve.
If you have compression of nerves in your spine (known as lumbar stenosis) it can lead to a cramp-like pain in your legs. This will often happen while you’re walking and will get worse as you continue to walk.
Inadequate Blood Supply
You can get a cramp in your legs and feet if you experience a narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to those areas. This often happens while you’re exercising and will go away as soon as you stop working out.
Are Leg Cramps Common?
Getting a leg cramp is quite common. Almost everyone has woken up with a sudden cramp in their leg, not allowing you to move your leg without pain and discomfort.
But there are some factors that determine if you will experience more leg cramps than usual:
- Age: When you are older, you lose muscle mass. That means the remaining muscle can get overstressed a lot easier. This can lead to more leg cramps than what a younger person might get.
- Dehydration: Being fatigued and dehydrated can lead to muscle cramps, especially if you’re exercising. This is even more common in the summer time when the weather is warmer.
- Medical conditions: Muscle cramps are much more common when you are pregnant. People with other medical conditions, including diseases, are at a higher risk of developing muscle cramps as well.
Leg cramps are usually nothing serious. They often go away in a couple of moments. But you should call a doctor to make an appointment if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, which are out of the ordinary for a leg cramp:
- Severe discomfort
- Swelling in your leg
- Redness or other changes to the skin
- Muscle weakness
- Cramp continuing without improvement
- Frequent leg cramps, happening more than usual
- Unclear what is causing the leg cramps
Home Remedies for Leg Cramps
If you don’t think the leg cramp is anything serious, you don’t need to rush to a doctor. But since you’re still experiencing discomfort, you might want to try some home remedies for leg cramps that can ease its symptoms. A lot of these remedies can also prevent future leg cramps from happening.
Drink More Water
A lot of leg cramps are from physical activity. If your cramp is most definitely from exercise, try drinking more water. If you drink plenty of water during and after each workout, there is a significantly smaller chance of getting leg cramps in the future.
Take Some Rest
If you’re feeling fatigued, avoid exercising. Working out when exhausted can lead to leg cramps because your muscles might be overworked. Try resting to prevent more leg cramps from forming.
Stretch Your Legs
If you’re going to use your legs extensively for an upcoming workout or day on the job, you should stretch your leg before doing so. Here is a great calf stretch that targets the usual spot people experience leg cramps:
- Place your left foot in front of you.
- Lean your torso forward at the waist toward your extended left foot.
- Bend your supporting knee.
- Slowly flex your left ankle, pulling your toes up toward your body.
- Hold this position and breathe.
- Repeat this with your right foot.
You can repeat this routine (and other leg stretches) after you use your muscles for an extended period as well.
If you tend to have leg cramps at night, do this stretch before bedtime too. A lot of people who get leg cramps at night will ride a stationary bike for a few minutes before laying down. This will prevent the cramps you get during your sleep.
Massage the Muscle
When you get an unexpected leg cramp, try massaging the area. This might relieve your discomfort because it loosens up your muscles. Leg cramps are often a result of tight muscles, so massaging the area is always beneficial.
Try a CBD Topical Cream
CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in hemp, meaning it won’t get you high. CBD topical creams, lotions, and salves allow the CBD to target the area on your body where you massage it in and provide physical benefits. That’s because CBD interacts with the receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is in charge of your overall well-being.
CBD interacts with the receptors underneath your skin, soothing discomfort in that spot. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, which will ease muscle tension, joint discomfort, and skin irritation. When massaging your legs during a cramp (or to prevent future ones), it definitely is an added bonus to massage it with a CBD lotion!
Once a muscle spasm starts, try applying heat to that area to soothe the discomfort during your leg cramp. Heat will help the muscle loosen up. You can apply heat with a simple heating pad or warm towel, directly pressed against the muscle.
Or you can try taking a warm bath or shower. Add a CBD bath bomb for a more soothing experience. This will help you feel relaxed as your physical discomfort starts to fade away.
You can also try something cold to treat leg cramps, like an ice pack or bag of ice. Maybe even a bag of peas wrapped in a thin towel. Put it directly on the area of your leg that’s cramping up. The ice pack, when combined with a massage, can loosen up the muscle.
Elevate Your Leg
Elevate your leg or foot by propping it up on a pillow or even a pile of clothes. Anything that will lift your leg up a bit. Try keeping it this way until the cramp starts to fade away.
If you get cramps at night pretty often, try sleeping with your leg elevated. This might reduce the chance of getting a cramp in your sleep going forward.
Final Thoughts – Home Remedies for Leg Cramps
It can honestly just suck when you get a leg cramp. It often happens when you least expect it, making it even worse. It can be frustrating when you wake up in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in your leg – Or when you suddenly feel an uncomfortable stiffness in your leg after a workout.
Leg cramps can happen for a variety of reasons. It could be as simple as being dehydrated to something more serious like an underlying health condition. Some people also get more leg cramps than others, including pregnant people and older people.
Luckily there are a lot of home remedies for leg cramps that will alleviate your pain and prevent future leg cramps from forming as often. This includes drinking more water, applying a heating pad, taking a bath with a CBD bath bomb, or simply getting some rest.
It’s important to pinpoint why you are getting leg cramps so you can more easily find a home remedy that works for you. You can also call a doctor if your symptoms become worse or won’t go away. While most leg cramps aren’t serious it doesn’t hurt to check!
Leg cramps are definitely frustrating and painful. But hopefully, these home remedies will soothe your discomfort and help you get some rest after a tough workout or long day at the job.