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Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:02pm

I can't tell you how many people mention that they suffer from leg cramps, usually calf cramps, in bed at night. If you suffer from these nocturnal leg cramps, you aren't alone at all.

In most cases, nighttime leg cramps are due to inactivity in the leg muscles during the day. Inactivity doesn't just mean lack of vigorous exercise. It can also mean that you do not roll through your feet properly while walking, resulting in limited mobility of the ankle joint.

You can see in the picture that the muscles of your calf do not just stop at the ankle. They continue down into your foot as well.

One method of controlling your calf cramps at night is to stretch your calves and the arch of the foot before bed every night. Make this a habit just like brushing your teeth is (hopefully) a habit before going to bed.

The best way to stretch your calves at home is to place the ball of your foot up on the wall, with your heel on the floor. This is actually a better stretch if you have shoes on. Try to lift your weight UP out of your heel, so you're not bearing down. The upwards lift of your weight and the downward direction of your heel will stretch your calf.

Even if you move around all day, the shoes you are wearing, whether they are high heels or work boots, could limit the mobility of your ankle.

Many people find that eating bananas in general cures cramping. I personally agree with this (its the potassium that does it), though it may not surprise you that some doctors say that they don't have any effect on cramps at all!

Quinine (tonic water) is known to cure cramps on the spot.

Quinine is also available in larger doses by prescription, though is associated with some serious side effects when taken in these larger doses. I would say, if you are really suffering from serious cramps at night, bananas don't seem to be helping, and stretching is not helping, maybe talk to your doctor. But before you rush out to get prescription quinine, be honest and make sure that you've tried adequately stretching your calves before bedtime. Not just once, try it for about 2 weeks and then see if it helps at all.

You can also check out my article, Freedom From Muscles Cramps, in the Articles section on the homepage of Heads Up On Your Body.

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