Nocturnal leg and calf cramps: causes, remedies and treatments
Night cramps, what are the best home remedies to get rid of them?
Cramps are involuntary contractures, manifested by a muscle or group of muscles becoming suddenly stiff and painful for a few minutes. They most often affect the lower limbs, usually targeting the foot, calf or thigh. Sometimes these cramps occur at night, greatly disrupting the quality of sleep.
The occurrence of cramps is only rarely due to an underlying pathology (the contractures are then very numerous, their pain persistent and it is advisable in this case to consult your doctor). Nevertheless, a mild disorder does not mean that there are no solutions to get rid of it, especially since cramps are known to everyone to be particularly painful and unpleasant.
In this article, we will present a variety of grandmother's remedies to put in place to relieve cramps or reduce their frequency of appearance, without necessarily going through the pharmacy box.
The Marseille soap placed in the bed.
Our ancestors know practical tips to soothe everyday ailments, passed down from generation to generation. One custom that has stood the test of time particularly well is the use of Marseille soap to relieve night cramps. Indeed, Marseille soap is rich in potassium which would explain, according to them, its nourishing action on the legs, compensating during the night for any potassium deficits in the person suffering from cramps.
To try this remedy, place a piece of Marseille soap at the bottom of your bed (in a pair of nylon tights, for example). You can also rub Marseille soap on the sheets. The effects of this method are, as you have understood, more of the order of belief and remain to be demonstrated.
Nevertheless, putting it into practice will have the merit of offering you sheets that smell good, a very real benefit that can only improve your sleep. You can also raise the mattress at the foot of the bed to promote blood circulation in the legs.
Cramps can be explained by a deficiency in magnesium, a mineral that facilitates muscle contraction and recovery. A potassium deficiency can also be implicated but at a lower level of imputability. It is therefore advisable to look at your diet to get rid of cramps and that's good: our dear grandmothers have the secret of many foods that make up for these shortcomings.
For example, they advise taking three tablespoons of brown honey a day, honey being renowned for its richness in nutrients and in particular in mineral salts. Similarly, certain foods such as legumes, dried fruits, bananas or even dark chocolate are very rich in magnesium and/or potassium, which helps to fight effectively against the onset of cramps.
The scarf to stretch the leg.
If we now look at how to stop a cramp once it has appeared, stretching the muscles remains the most effective solution. A technique popular with grandmothers is to use a scarf or a bolster to perform these stretches. During a calf cramp, hold the scarf by the ends so that you can place your feet on it, stretching your legs as best as possible. Then, push at the level of the foot while making a pulling movement of the scarf towards you.
Other simple gestures can stretch the affected muscles. You can, as far as possible, try to walk around the room, or else, while lying on your back, stretch your leg lengthwise to counteract the contraction causing the pain. Once the cramp is over, the muscle can be massaged from bottom to top to promote venous return. These kinds of massages can be performed regularly by a physical therapist on prescription if cramps become a recurring problem.
Essential oils :
Essential oils are very effective and versatile substances when it comes to treating everyday ailments. Having a collection can then be very useful, not to mention that their intoxicating smell makes their use very pleasant.
But beware: they can be irritating when undiluted. They should therefore be used correctly and with sufficient precautions.
- True lavender essential oil : this essential oil is usually recognized for its soothing properties, indicated for example in anxiety and insomnia. However, it also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties as well as muscle relaxants, which make it very effective in soothing muscle pain. Thus, in case of cramp, you can perform a massage of the muscle concerned with 1 drop of essential oil of lavender diluted in 4 drops of vegetable oil (for example vegetable oil of sweet almond).
This oil has the advantage of being very little irritant, but it can be quite allergenic. For this, it is preferable to test the essential oil beforehand by applying two pure drops in the crook of the elbow and to check that no redness or itching appears during the next 10 hours.
- Wintergreen essential oil : this oil is a little less known than the previous one, however its effectiveness is also claimed by our grandmothers when it comes to soothing muscle contractions. Indeed, it is rich in methyl salicylate, a precursor of salicylic acid, and therefore has well-known analgesic properties. You can use it up to 15 drops in 25 ml of vegetable oil, by applying it in massage on the painful muscle, and this several times a day. But note this: because of its composition, it should not be used in people allergic to aspirin or salicylate derivatives as well as in people treated with anti-coagulants.
The last advice to overcome cramps is not the least: be sure? excellent body hydration. Indeed, the lack of hydration is the main factor leading to the occurrence of cramps. So, be sure to drink 1.5L to 2L of water a day, and prefer the choice of water rich in mineral salts. When you play sports, drink enough before, during and after exercise to prevent excessive water loss through perspiration. Likewise, do not hesitate to increase your water consumption in case of high temperatures and do not forget: the feeling of thirst occurs when the body is already dehydrated. So don't wait until your mouth is dry before quenching your thirst!
The products in the Hydratis range can help you achieve this goal of optimal hydration. Indeed these pastilles containing mineral salts, sodium, glucose and trace elements allow the body to better absorb water which contributes to a more effective muscular recovery and thus to avoid the cramps.
Food, hydration, stretching and massage with essential oils… There are therefore many ways to solve these nasty cramps. It's up to you to find the ones that suit you best and to adopt good habits on a daily basis. You are now ready to face muscle cramps like a professional athlete!