Stop Your Nocturnal Leg Cramps Fast

Get leg cramps? The kind that make you leap from bed and hobble around whimpering?  Was happening to me, till I learned how to fix my nocturnal leg cramping dilemma. Here’s what to do…

Nocturnal Leg Cramps

IN YET another chapter of dealing with mischievous physical ailments, this post is about nighttime, lower leg cramping. Like many such issues, it can be a bit of a puzzle to figure out why this happens and correct it, but I think I have.

Over the last three months or so, with increasing frequency, I’ve been getting lower leg cramps while in bed at night. Sometimes I can just gut it out until the cramping releases, and other times I’m compelled to jump out of bed and walk it off.

Sound familiar?

Over the course of my life, this has happened on occasion, but when it’s an every night thing, I decided I had to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

I started researching and found that there’s a long litany of suspected causes, but there’s no definitive reason for nocturnal cramps. I did, however, have an insight handed to me by my cousin’s wife, and I ran with it.

Magnesium, Potassium and Calcium

In New Jersey to attend a wedding, I stayed with my cousin and his wife, Laurie, a chiropractor. We regularly talk health stuff, and thankfully I had the presence of mind to ask her about my nighttime cramps.

I told her that I think my diet contains sufficient potassium and magnesium, particularly magnesium as I supplement with it topically with Mike Mahler’s magnesium oil, and orally with a supplement called ZMA.

“You’re low in calcium”, she said flatly.

“Umm… but I eat a lot of high calcium veggies”, I asserted, “ and have begun using a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement.”

She retorted: “It’s all out of balance… you need to add calcium or reduce magnesium.”

(And, parenthetically, the calcium should be in the form of calcium lactate or citrate… calcium carbonate should be avoided, as it’s harder to absorb.)

That’s what I did – I stopped taking ZMA and the magnesium oil, cause that was the fastest thing to do while I found and bought a good source of calcium to add to my already nutty stockpile of supplements.

The results were nearly immediate. Within three nights, the leg cramps pretty much ended, and now, two weeks later, I’ve only had two episodes, neither requiring me to leap from the bed and hobble around till the muscle cramps release.

Now, the reason I was supplementing with magnesium to begin with is that it’s thought to help boost testosterone, which I’ve delved into here:

How I’m Boosting Testosterone and Blasting Fat and
Boost Your Testosterone Naturally

(Yeah, guess I like the word, “boost”.)

Could be, though, that magnesium’s contribution to bumping up your testosterone numbers is over rated, as Examine.com reports.

This is the beginning of a tangent, but a worthy one, because it highlights that there’s often a gulf between what is believed to be true in the supplement world and was research says is true.

Examine.com is a site that reports on the research underlying the effectiveness of supplements. It gives magnesium a “C” rating for its influence on testosterone.

(Read about this and my take on the value of using Examine.com in my post, Your Supplement Cheat Sheet For Better Health.)

Let’s close out the tangent and carry on with what I discovered about nighttime leg cramps…

At this point, it seems like I solved my problem, but the literature suggests that there’s more that can be done.

 

What I’m Doing To End The Leg Cramps

I’ll get into some details in a bit, but for my situation, it seems that what I need to do is:

– Hydrate more

– Ensure I’m getting enough potassium

– Stretch my lower legs before bed, and (as mentioned)

– Increase my calcium

If you’re having leg cramps at night, this may or may not be sufficient, so let’s dive deeper.

 

Causes of Leg Cramps

According to the NYC Lagone Medical Center, the specific causes of nocturnal leg cramps is unknown, but there are many activities and diseases associated with them, like these:

  • Overexertion of the muscles
  • Standing on hard surfaces
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Certain leg positions while inactive
  • Dehydration
  • Diseases:
  • Certain medications:
    • Blood pressure medicines
    • Statins (that lower cholesterol)
    • Morphine
    • Lithium

 

Leg Cramp Risk Factors

And these Risk Factors increase your chances of experiencing nocturnal leg cramps (with my comments about whether they may apply to me):

  • Age over 50 (Nuttin I can do about that)
  • Overexertion (Naw)
  • Pregnancy (Improbable)
  • Staying in certain positions for a long time (Nope)
  • Flat feet or other foot or ankle deformities (Nope)
  • Alcoholism (Nope)
  • Neurologic diseases (Don’t know)
  • Certain medicines (Take none)
  • Diabetes (That’s loaded… read “My Blood Sugar Numbers”)
  • Parkinson’s disease (Nope)
  • Hypoglycemia (Nope)
  • Hormone disorders such as thyroid imbalance (Another loaded issue for me that I’ll cover in a future post).
  • Chemical imbalances (for example, calcium, potassium, magnesium) (Covered these above)
[Source]

 

Some Preventative Measures

Here’s a general list of Preventative Measures with my (inevitable) commentary:

  • Stretch three times a day and just before going to bed.
    • Face a wall, put your hands on the wall, and keep them there. Step backward. Keep your knees locked. Keep your heels on the floor until you feel a strong pull in your calves.
    • Hold that position for 10 seconds. Repeat two or three times.
  • Already do it in the morning and on yoga days, but will add a brief pre-bed stretch.
  •  Exercise feet and legs regularly.
  • Already happening: weight lifting, stair running and biking.

 

  • Drink plenty of liquids.

 

  • Got me here… this is the one thing I haven’t incorporated into my lifestyle that I know is good and would be helpful. Gotta make it a habit.

 

  • Eat plenty of potassium-rich foods. These include bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, oranges, and grapefruit.

 

  • Given that my garden is still producing a surfeit of tomatoes, am eating a ton of them, and broccoli at least once a week, but the other foods rarely.  I’ll add grapefruit.

 

  • Wear comfortable, supportive shoes.

 

  • Check.
  •  Sleep with toes up, not pointed downward.
  •  Forget about it… there’s only so much I’m willing to do.

 

OK, so let’s wrap this up.

If you have nocturnal leg cramps, or know someone that does, familiarize yourself with the potential causes and remedies, and try some.

Let us know in the Comments below you fare.

Ciao for now.

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Joe Garma
 

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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