Last Updated on 01/05/2021 by Mandy
What are Leg cramps?
Leg cramps are sudden, uncontrollable contractions of the calf muscles that occur at night or while resting. While this is pretty common during pregnancy, there is no clear explanation for why they happen. Some researchers believe it may be due to a problem with the nerves controlling the muscles rather than any physical muscle weakness. Let’s explore some tips on how to stop these pesky and painful nighttime leg cramps!
Why do we get cramps?
There is no particular reason as to why we get nighttime leg cramps. Some researchers consider it to be a low deficiency in minerals and electrolytes that are needed to prevent muscle cramps.
Low levels of a few minerals known as electrolytes—magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium—have long been connected to leg cramps. (Marathon runners sweating out the miles are particularly prone to this variety.)
The best way to maintain electrolyte levels is by drinking lots of water, as well as eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits with high potassium content.
Sports drinks also contain many key minerals that can help prevent muscle cramps. If you have an iron deficiency or malabsorption issue, your doctor may recommend taking supplements suitable for pregnancy to improve this. This is difficult though as you don’t want to take anything apart from your multivitamins for breastfeeding and folic acid. There are however some very good organic and natural supplements on the market containing micralgae that help prevent muscle cramping and can give you a better night’s sleep.
Can gentle exercise help?
Stretching your calves regularly during the day and at night will help. You can often prevent night cramps by exhausting the stretch reflex before you go to bed by stretching your calf muscles with wall pushups and applying a heating pad for 10 minutes before going to bed.
Keeping blankets loose at the foot of the bed will also help avoid unnatural positioning of your feet and toes which can cause nighttime cramping.
The main problem people have is when a leg cramp occurs at night it will disrupt the sleep and can effect the whole day from there. Getting a good nights rest is vital for our health and we are unable to do this if we cannot prevent our nighttime leg cramps. There are a few ways we can prevent our cramps. When cramping occurs, try holding the affected leg and then slightly elevate it. Stretch your calf by grabbing your toes and pulling them upward toward your knee, especially with your leg extended straight. Start massaging the cramped muscle. Although this technique could be successful this is still waking us up in the middle of the night (and probably our partner too if we are moving around in pain).
We hope this article has helped you understand this problem and pick up some simple tips to combat it.