Nighttime Leg Cramps
Legs cramps can cause a lot of discomfort and can be annoying if it occurs often during the night and disrupts your sleep. There are various reasons why cramps can occur: exercising without proper warm up, lack of magnesium or potassium in your diet which results in the inability of your muscles to relax, dehydration, reduced blood flow. Cramps can also occur due to neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, or spinal problems that can cause nerve compressions.
The best ways to prevent cramps are to stay hydrated throughout the day, include foods rich in magnesium and potassium in your diet, keeping your muscles strong and flexible with regular exercises and you can also try wearing socks at night to keep your feet warm and the blood flow circulating.
As a bedtime prep to include as part of your nighttime routine you can do some gentle leg stretches or mild exercise such as walking or a short bike ride before bed. If you are looking for ways to alleviate the leg cramps when they are happening, stretching or adding heat to the cramping muscles (with a heating pad or warm bath) can help relax and increase the blood flow to the area. Ice packs can help ease the pain while you wait for the muscle cramp to subside. Make sure to warp the ice in a towel or other fabric material to prevent direct contact on your skin.
Below are three stretches that can also be done before bed. Each stretch should be help for 10-15 seconds and repeated for 3-5 times.
1. Standing Calf Stretch
Stand with your arms extended from your chest and palms flat on the wall. Place one leg in front of you, knees slightly bent and the other extended straight behind you. Lean forward without lifting your heels and you should feel a nice stretch at the back of your calves of the extended leg.
Make sure to repeat for the opposite leg.
2. Hamstring Standing Stretch
Position the back of a sturdy chair against the wall and use the seat of the chair as a platform to stretch your legs. Place your left or right heel on the chair to help extend your leg. While using the opposite leg to support yourself, make sure your foot is firmly on the ground and slowly bend forward at the hips while keeping your upper body straight. This will help stretch the area behind your thighs. Make sure to repeat with the opposite leg.
3. Seated Calf and Hamstring Stretch
Sit on the floor or on your bed with both legs extended. While keeping your back straight, bend forward at your hips and get a hold of your toes or calves. Reach out as far as you can and hold this position for 10-15 seconds. If you have difficulty reaching your toes, you can wrap a towel under your feet to pull yourself forward.