Leg cramps are best described as a type of muscle cramp that typically causes the muscles in the calf to contract in a painful manner that can last from a few seconds up to several minutes. Once an individual experiences a leg cramp, the muscles that are cramping could not be controlled and it can be very painful.
Aside from the calf muscles, leg cramps can also affect the quadriceps and hamstrings. The usual time for leg cramps to occur is during night time in which many suffer severe cramps that they rouse up late at night, thus disrupting their sleep. Obviously, it can be considered as a major annoyance for some individuals especially if the cramps occur frequently. On the other hand, leg cramps can still occur in any time of the day.
What are the causes of leg cramps?
If a family member regularly suffers from leg cramps, it is important to be familiar on what causes the condition. The exact factors of leg cramps are not yet fully understood even today. One of the common causes of leg cramps is no other than dehydration. This is followed by engaging in strenuous exercise, especially if performed close to sleeping time.
Poor flow of blood is also another cause of leg cramps. In some individuals, it has been proven that very low levels of essential nutrients and minerals can lead to nocturnal leg cramps. Additionally, using certain narcotics at high doses can trigger the occurrence of the cramps.
Is it possible to avoid leg cramps?
There are various ways in order to prevent the occurrence of leg cramps. Initially, if the individual engages in strenuous activity or exercise especially in weightlifting that involves the leg muscles, it is best performed early in the day if possible. Other activities that involve the leg muscles should not performed early in the day to prevent cramps from occurring.
Eating a healthy diet will ensure that the electrolytes in the body is properly balanced. It is also important to make sure that stretching exercises are performed before and after an exercise routine.
Treatment for leg cramps
If an individual suffers leg cramps, the first thing that you have to do is to straighten the muscles out and lightly massage the affected muscle group using your hands.
Encourage the individual to breathe in deeply in a controlled pattern. The elevated level of oxygen present in the bloodstream will help minimize the muscle cramp.
Provide the individual with water to drink to ensure that he/she is adequately hydrated as well as to prevent further cramping. You can also apply heat to the affected leg muscles. If you want to learn more on how to apply heat to leg cramps, click here. In case the leg cramps persists, you should look for tonic water that contains quinine. Take note that the quinine will help ease the cramps in the legs.