Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night with an intense leg cramp that you can’t seem to get to stop? Are you a pregnant woman experiencing leg cramps from time to time? Pretty much everyone will experience these muscle cramps sometime in their life. It will be good to know how you can manage these cramps when they occur and also how to prevent them. In this blog, we’ll give you some home remedies how to stop leg cramps and tips on preventing them.
Common Causes of Leg Cramps
According to Mayo Clinic, some of the most common causes of leg or muscle cramps are:
- overuse of muscles
- muscle strain
- mineral deficiency such as potassium, calcium, or magnesium deficiency
- simply holding a position for a prolonged period (such as when you are sleeping)
The most common areas for leg cramps are the lower leg and the front and back of the thigh. If your leg cramp is really strong it can leave you sore even after the cramp has passed. This is not like some very serious medical conditions, but it can be very uncomfortable. I know during pregnancy you can experience severe leg cramps because of the surge of estrogens in a woman’s body, and it can leave your legs sore for a day or two.
How to Stop Leg Cramps: Home Remedies
There are many home remedies for leg cramps that you can find on the internet. Some might make you skeptical, but there are some helpful and legit ones too. Some things we hear about leg cramps is that we need to drink plenty of water, grab some medicines with enough minerals in them to alleviate the symptoms and avoid nerve damage. Well, to save you from skepticisms, we’ve compiled some of them in this article as well as some prevention tips that you can do so you don’t have to feel that cramping pain.
Say goodbye to ibuprofen, raloxifene, ditltiazem, gabapentin, neurontin, albuterol, naproxen, and other prescripted drugs to fight leg cramps.
So if you are ready, here are some all-natural remedies to treat leg cramps! You don’t need a prescription to have these. So the next time you feel a leg cramp coming on, try one of these remedies below for instant relief!
1. Salt To Ease Pain
It is said that cramps are the effect of a lack of sodium either because of too much sweating, diarrhea, or vomiting. It has been an assumption that when a person sweats too much, he became dehydrated and losses sodium in the body, which can cause the spaces in the cells of the muscles to contract which leads to pain.
So it has been surmised that one of the first things you can do if you feel leg cramps or muscle weakness starting is to lick salt. Just pour a little in the palm of your hand and lick away. It will almost instantly take the pain away. No side effect recorded so far.
2. Pickle Juice Shot For Leg Cramps
Pickle juice is a widely used treatment for leg cramps and muscle fatigue among athletes. There are some theories that say the electrolytes from salt and vinegar in the pickle juice helps with the pain. It is said that the vinegar taste of the pickle juice is the reason why it’s an effective remedy for leg cramps. It will almost instantly stop the leg cramp spasms once you take a shot of it.
Just keep in mind that pickle juice is rich in sodium and acid, so people with high blood and who have acid reflux or GERD should be cautious in taking too much of it.
3. Baking Soda and Water
Baking soda with water is used by athletes to counter the effect of an increase in lactic acid which can result in muscle or leg cramps, whether that be nocturnal leg cramps or just sore leg muscles during the day. Take an 8 oz glass of water, add a tablespoon of baking soda and drink it. This will help the pain to go away within five minutes.
Just a reminder, that baking soda or sodium bicarbonate should be taken with care because too much consumption of it can lead to toxicity. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are planning to consume it if you are taking any medication.
4. Mustard For Over-Excited Muscles
According to some internet articles, the same reason that pickle juice is effective for leg cramps can also be true for mustard. With the knowledge on peripheral neuropathy, we learnt hat neural stimulation after taking a sip or a bite from these foods causes overexcited neurons to behave and ultimately eases the pain of your cramps.
Take a tablespoon of mustard and eat it, this will work fast at releasing the cramp in your leg. Save the packets from fast-food restaurants, they work great! It’s friendly to your kidneys and arteries too.
5. Black Molasses For A Dose of Potassium
Some leg cramps are due to a deficiency in calcium and potassium nutrients in our body. Black molasses is a food rich in those two types of nutrients, that’s why molasses is another home remedy we can take for leg cramps. Don’t worry about cholesterol and other diuretics.
For effective relief, take around 1-2 tablespoons for severe leg cramps or you can mix it with a warm glass of water or milk, drink away, and feel the pain go away in minutes. And remember to keep hydration a serious thing!
6. Rubbing Alcohol To Massage Your Legs
Rub a little rubbing alcohol on the area that is cramping up (usually calf muscle), massage it, and it should help relieve the tension in your muscles. There are so many uses for rubbing alcohol, that it’s definitely worth having a bottle on hand.
7. Epsom Salt Bath To Increase Blood Flow on Your Cramped Legs
Another effective treatment of leg cramps is a warm bath of Epsom salt. Epsom salt is rich in magnesium, and that will seep into your skin as you soak in the bath, and help loosen up those tense muscles. It is a great way to relieve stress, soothe your achy muscles, and detoxify your body.
More than the salt, the hot bath can increase blood flow in your legs and hopefully can help soothe the pain. That is why a hot bath with or without Epsom salt is an effective way of reducing leg cramps pain.
For those with chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease, Epsom salt is not recommended to be used on your baths.
8. Essential Oils To Alleviate Soreness
Aside from increased intake of fluids in your body, there are some essential oils you can use to soothe painful and sore muscles. If you have some essential oils at home, rub peppermint and/or lavender oils on the area that is causing the pain. This will help relax and soothe the pain from the cramping muscles. You can check out more about these oils here.
Another way you can take advantage of the benefits of essential oils is to add them to your bathwater and dive into a relaxing bath. It can soothe your aching quadriceps in no time.
9. Ice or Heat Pack on the Cramped Leg
Take an ice pack and apply it to the area that is hurting. This is a great way to relieve the pain from the sore muscle. A cold compress can numb and reduce the pain that you will be feeling. It can also reduce swelling and inflammation in the affected part. You can use a cold towel or a cold compress.
On the other hand, heat relaxes the muscle and increases blood flow. It is great for tightness and cramping. You can use a warm towel or a heating pad. Just remember to not put any cold or heat directly on your skin to prevent burning your skin.
If you’re still looking for other natural alternatives for common medications, you can check out this article for more ideas.
Preventing Leg Cramps
1. Stretches To Prevent Cramps
One of the best things to do to try and minimize episodes of leg cramps is to regularly do stretching exercises. Doing stretches during the day and before you go to bed will help to lessen those night-time leg cramps that you might be experiencing.
Simple stretches such as standing calf stretch, hamstring standing stretch, or seated calf and hamstring stretch are useful to lessen your bouts of leg cramps. You can even try stretching your leg to loosen up those cramped muscles. Even trying to walk a little when it is cramping can help relieve some of the tension in your leg.
2. Magnesium And Other Nutrients To Fight Leg Cramps
If you experience a lot of leg cramps, it might be a sign of a nutrient deficiency. Some nutrient deficiencies that might cause leg cramps are magnesium, potassium, and calcium deficiency. In these cases, you might need to add more magnesium or any of these nutrients to your diet.
You can buy a supplement or you can eat more foods that contain magnesium. High magnesium foods include nuts, seeds, fish, dark leafy greens, avocados, whole grains, dried fruits, and more. Aim for around 400 mg of magnesium a day. More of these types of foods can be found in this article.
3. Stay Hydrated
Do you know that one of the most common causes of muscle cramps is dehydration? Water causes muscles to relax, so dehydration (or lack of water in your body) tends to make your muscles irritable and thus become prone to cramping.
To prevent those leg cramps, stay hydrated during the day. Drink enough water every day based on your body size (standard is eight ounces, eight times a day). If you find that you are sweating a lot or it is hot, drink more or add in an electrolyte drink like Gatorade or Powerade.
For more home remedy ideas, check out these articles:
- How to Get Rid of Fleas: 16 Effective Home Remedies for Fleas
- 12 Simple Home Remedies For Toothache That Actually Work
- 9 Home Remedies for Coughs That Actually Work
- 10 Easy Home Remedies for Sunburns
It’s your turn now, do you have any of your own home remedies for leg cramps? Share what works for you in the comments!