No more nighttime leg cramps: The causes and the cures

Good ol’ charley horse (the colloquial term for a muscle spasm, especially in the legs and often in the middle of the night). If you’ve ever been on the receiving end you’ll know just how extremely uncomfortable these muscle contractions can be, but the good news it charley horses are generally treatable, and you don’t even have to leave the home.

If you’re suffering leg cramps on a fairly frequent basis, it’s best to consult your doctor for an assessment.

What causes a charley horse?

There are a number of factors that can cause your muscles to cramp or spasm, but the most common causes of a charley horse include:

  • inadequate blood flow to the muscle
  • muscle injuries
  • exercising in excessive heat or cold
  • overuse of a specific muscle during exercise
  • stress
  • not stretching before and/or after exercise
  • taking blood pressure pills or diuretics that could lead to low potassium levels
  • too little calcium, potassium and sodium in your blood
  • dehydration
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Preventing a charley horse

You can take steps like stretching before and after exercise, avoiding exercise of the same muscles on consecutive days, drinking plenty of water throughout the day and even stretching before going to bed, but there are also several more unusual preventative measures you can take.

Grab a bar of soap. There a plenty of people who espouse the nothing fixes a nighttime leg cramp quite like sticking a bar of soap between your mattress and your bottom sheet.

Take a warm shower. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that your muscles are at their best when they are warm, so having a warm shower might be exactly the trick for easing your sore muscles. If you don’t like showers, spend some time relaxing in a warm tub instead — you’ll get the same result and you can give your legs a bit of a rub while you’re soaking.

Eat a banana. Former ballerinas might be nodding their heads at this piece of advice. Apparently bananas are full of potassium, which is a nutrient responsible for helping you to contract your muscles and move more freely.

Drink pickle juice. Now before you go and click the ‘back’ button because this one is by far the most obscure, pickle juice is full of salt and salt is the first thing you sweat. Therefore, injecting your body with a hit of salt and vinegar can assist in replenishing the depleted nutrients in your body and restore its muscle contracting function.

Have you ever suffered from a leg cramp? How did you go about relieving your discomfort?