Also known as a charley horse, the exact causes of cramps are not yet fully understood, but they are thought to be exacerbated by:
- Standing or sitting for long periods of time
- Certain medications
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
The good news is that there are plenty of ways you can try to prevent getting cramps at night:
- Take up gentle stretching exercises such as yoga every day to keep muscles loose and limber. Always stretch before and after exercise and try to incorporate a 10-minute stretching routine before you go to bed to unwind your limbs.
- Avoid dehydration by making sure you drink plenty of water during the day. Carry a water bottle with you at all times and replace dehydrating coffee and tea with green tea or herbal alternatives to keep your fluid levels topped up.
- If you are introducing a new exercise regime, increase it slowly and gradually each week. Do not force the body into doing more than it is used to too soon.
- Take regular breaks from standing or sitting to ease the pressure on your legs. Set a timer to ensure that you take a rest at least every hour, if not every 30 minutes.
- Speak to your doctor about any medication you might be taking and discuss whether it could be having an impact on the muscles.
- Ensure that you are eating a balanced, varied diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Take a multivitamin to supplement this and ensure that your body is getting all the minerals and vitamins that it needs to function properly.
For a quick fix solution, swing your legs out of bed so that you can stretch and massage the muscle to ease it out of cramp. Standing up and flexing the foot helps to alleviate some of the stress, while using a warm compress or ice pack will relax the muscle and make it easier for you to go back to sleep.
Some sources say that cramps are caused by a lack of potassium, so you may find that eating a banana or two helps to relieve the pain, while others swear by putting a bar of soap in the sheets, or swallowing a teaspoon of yellow mustard.
What bizarre remedies do you have for night time cramps?
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