I’ve had leg cramps that were so sudden and ferocious I thought I’d be able to punch a hole through the wall with my pain! Leg cramps can creep up and grab you without warning.
There are more than a few reasons why people get leg cramps. One common reason is too much salt in the diet. Yep, I know you hate to hear that but salt, lovely salt, can work against you in your leg muscles.
The rule of thumb I follow is to overdo my water drinking whenever I eat something salty – which is often. If I am going to enjoy my popcorn but also have good sleep without leg cramps, I have learned that I must double up, triple up on drinking water. Keeping the muscles hydrated can compensate for too much salt circulating through your system.
Of course if it’s easier for you to cut back on the amount of daily salt you are consuming, you are a better person than I am.
One more major cause of leg cramps is lack of stretching. It should be a hard fast rule for you to do good leg stretches before and after any kind of exercise. Stretching exercises to prevent leg cramps are too darn easy. Before I even get out of bed in the morning, I draw circles with my ankles. That warms up my legs. After the ankle circles, I can gently begin pointing my toes and flexing them alternatively. As if I am waving at the air with my feet. Then I’m ready to get out of bed and begin the day.
During the day, I periodically do calf stretches and shin stretches. I face a wall and place my heel on the ground as close to the wall as possible then take one step with that foot as if I am trying to climb up the wall. I don’t allow my shoe to leave the ground. (see image above) If I hold that position and lean in with the rest of my body towards the wall, I get a really good calf muscle stretch. This helps me avoid leg cramps throughout the day and night.
After that calf stretch, I bend the knee backwards and lean back with my hand to grasp my shoe giving my shin a great stretch as well.
If you give these suggestions a lot of respect and still get leg cramps, you might consider taking in more magnesium, either through supplements or through that miracle powder called Calm (sold at health food stores).
Leg cramps are annoying but if you limit your salt intake and stretch before and after you do any sort of exercising you will be okay.