Leg cramps fall into the area of chronic, debilitating and often avoidable suffering. For anybody who finds themselves struggling with leg cramps, there are three very important things to consider: Prevention and treatment.
People suffer from leg cramps for a variety of reasons and it is always advisable to consult your doctor to make sure that you are not ignoring any underlying medical conditions. You also have to be careful to make sure that any treatment applied to alleviate the problem does not have a negative impact on your overall health. This is particularly true for any medication or herbal treatments.
Having said that, there are certainly things that you can do to prevent, avoid, and treat the problem. The first step is to try and identify what sets the cramps off. For instance, there is one common culprit: Rapid temperature change, combined with overuse. To qualify this, we all have different limits.
What is over-use for one person is really nothing for somebody else. The same can be said for even one individual. What is a lot on one day, might seem easy on another day. Perhaps you are more dehydrated or tired than you were the day before and your body is less prepared to handle a certain set of circumstances. Even mental stress can have a major impact on degree and frequency of cramping. In general, the more relaxed a person is, the more relaxed their muscles are.
Temperature and level of humidity also have an impact on degree and frequency of leg cramps. Properly hydrated, warm muscles are much less likely to cramp. Muscles do not like to be shocked. It is a good idea to do some sort of warm-up and cool-down stretches before any sort of exercise. If you suffer leg cramps when climbing stairs, realize that for your body this is a significant activity and does require a little more thought than for somebody else (and that’s okay).
Keeping muscles warm helps the flow of blood and reduces the chances and severity of cramping. The answer could be as simple as putting on a pair of house slippers or socks, rather than walking around barefoot. Consider that dancers always wear leg warmers, for this very reason. Another example is when people experience leg cramps while swimming. This is often the result of tense muscles which suddenly go from a warm spot of water to a cold spot. When it comes to leg cramps and shock, it is best to avoid the combination.
There are some easy and non-medicinal things that can help reduce the pain. The first thing to do is apply warmth. Socks, a blanket and even rubbing the affected area in a firm and even motion will help. However, when applying massage always be careful to rub in the direction of blood flow (away from the heart, in a circular motion).
Leg cramps can also be the result of poor foot wear. Inadequate support for your foot structure can have serious and costly repercussions on your overall health and well-being. Investing in a good pair of shoes will go a long way toward allowing your legs the time they need to recuperate after damage inflicted through everyday use. Elevating your legs when resting is also a good way to improve circulation and allow cramps to dissipate. Staying rested and hydrated are also important elements of treating leg cramps under control.
Beyond that, it is important to consider that leg cramps can be the result of growing and aging pains. As our bodies mature it would be idea if the process was uniform in nature. Instead, different limbs do different things, at different times. This means that for adolescents and young adults it is quite common to go through periods where leg cramps are more frequent and severe. This often a temporary condition and does ease and even disappear once the body settles into itself.