6 Ways to Treat Leg Cramps
By Robin Westen
Suddenly, you wake in the middle of the night with an excruciating leg or foot cramp. Sound familiar? One out of three folks over sixty are prone to these involuntarily muscle contractions, and if you’re one of them, you want that pain to end as soon as possible. Here’s how to do it:
If it’s a foot or calf cramp, sit or lie down. Then flex the toes of the affected foot or leg upwards. This will stretch your calf and foot muscles in the opposite direction of the contracting muscles. You might also try self-massaging the area.
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Get Loose Cramps can be caused by either sitting or lying in a particular position for a long period of time, or sleeping with a snug blanket wrapped around your legs. What sleeping position is best to avoid cramping? On your side with your knees bent.
Be Mineral Smart There’s a connection between muscle cramps and low levels of the minerals potassium, calcium and magnesium. For relief try a diet rich in bananas and oranges, which are high in potassium; brown rice, almonds and avocadoes which are excellent sources of magnesium; and spinach, the super food that contains all three minerals.
Review Your Medications According to a study in the “Archives of Internal Medicine,” several diuretics, statins, and certain long-acting beta agonists (commonly used to treat COPD) can trigger night time leg cramps. If you notice that your cramps are more frequent after you’ve started taking any one of these medications, let your doctor know about it.
Drink Up Even though it hasn’t been proven that dehydration causes leg cramps, it may contribute to them. Be sure to drink plenty of water on warm weather days and after exercising.
Say No to Heels This is especially important for folks with flat feet who are more susceptible to foot and leg cramping. Opt for comfy flat shoes with added arch support.
To comment, click here. About the Author
Robin Westen is ThirdAge's Medical Director. Check for her daily updates. Her latest book, co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Dweck, is "V is for Vagina."