ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Remedies for Stopping Leg Cramps

Updated on April 20, 2014
NateB11 profile image

Like most people, I'm concerned with the practical needs of everyday life, and therefore research issues of health and livelihood.

There was a time in my life when I'd wake up in the middle of the night with leg cramps that totally seized up my leg and were incredibly painful. It can be quite a shock to be awakened by a severe leg cramp. Your muscles lock up, you can't move your leg and, in my case, I could feel the spasms up the calf into the back of the knee.

This started happening to me at the height of my martial arts training. I was training heavily and regularly and my muscles were often overworked. Not only did I get major leg cramps in my sleep but I also got them on the mat while I was in the middle of a workout. Needless to say, leg cramps can get in the way of such activities.

Let's look at leg cramps in terms of what causes them and also what you can do about them.

Heavy exercise that overworks your muscles can cause leg cramps especially if the muscles are already tight.
Heavy exercise that overworks your muscles can cause leg cramps especially if the muscles are already tight. | Source

What Causes Leg Cramps?

As I alluded to before, your muscles being overworked can make them cramp. If the muscles are already tight, it's even more likely that they will cramp up, too.

In addition, dehydration and a deficiency in potassium (the two often going together) can cause leg cramps.

So, obviously, some of the remedies for leg cramps are related to these causes.

Do you get leg cramps?

See results

Fast Relief for Leg Cramp

As I said, I'd sometimes get a leg cramp while training in martial arts. Often it was when I'd been working out regularly and intensely, the muscles were overworked and the leg cramps would come on.

One time in particular, I remember working on techniques with a partner. The mat seemed to have a bit too much traction for me and my big toe got caught on the mat a bit and the pull of it triggered a leg cramp; the big toe straightened out and seized up and I could feel this very intense cramp in my calf up into the back of my knee and I was pretty much immobilized. I still remember the instructor telling my partner how to stop the cramp.

First, you hold the heel in place and bend the foot back so that the toes are going toward you; in other words, you are somewhat stretching the calf muscle out. Then, quite simply, you pinch the big toe on that foot.

To those unfamiliar with this technique, I'm sure it sounds strange. But, sure enough, it got rid of my leg cramp. The cramp was gone instantly.

At that time, I sat down and took a rest, but the pain and spasms were gone.

Stretching can help keep muscles loose and flexible and prepared for workouts, and so can prevent leg cramps.
Stretching can help keep muscles loose and flexible and prepared for workouts, and so can prevent leg cramps. | Source

Remedies for leg cramps:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Eat bananas or take potassium
  • Stretch calf/leg muscles
  • Get rest

Stretching Calf Muscles

Leg Cramp Remedies

So, as already stated, pulling back the foot and pinching the toe can provide instant relief for a leg cramp. However, there are some long-term strategies that can help prevent leg cramps.

As stated dehydration can cause leg cramps especially if you're having heavy workouts. Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated, therefore, can help you stave off the leg cramps.

Hand in hand with that, is the possibility that you need more potassium. Dehydration depletes you of electrolytes and so you might be in need of potassium if you are dehydrated and having leg cramps. You can start eating more bananas or start taking a potassium supplement.

Another major factor that could contribute to leg cramps is that your muscles might be too tight. If you demand a lot of your body, then your body must be prepared for what you put it though; if the muscles are too tight, they can't handle strenuous workouts. They must be flexible to handle movement and work.

One of the best stretches I've found for the calf, where my leg cramps took place, is one in which you kneel down on one knee and keep the foot of the other leg with the bottom of it flat on the ground; then you simply lean your body into that leg with the foot on the ground and this naturally stretches the calf and ankle muscles by bending the foot back.

Also, you can, from a (1) standing position, (2) hands against a wall, (3) toes pointing forward, (4) put one foot a couple feet forward of your rear foot and (5) keep that back leg straight and (6) with the heel on the ground, (7) lean forward on and bend the front leg (see video, upper right). This offers a decent stretch of the calf muscles. Of course, with all these stretches you have to hold the stretch for half a minute to a minute to really stretch those muscles; and do the stretch several times.

Finally, because these cramps are often caused by overexertion of muscles, it might be a good idea to take it easy from the workouts and get some decent rest. Your body needs rest too.

Causes of and Remedies for Leg Cramps

Potassium Deficiency
Tight/Overworked Muscles
Drink More Water
Eat Bananas or Take Supplements
Stretch and Rest
Stretching is good for your muscles, especially if you are very active.
Stretching is good for your muscles, especially if you are very active. | Source

So, chances are, if you are getting leg cramps then you are overworking your muscles and might simply need more rest. But it doesn't hurt to make sure you are stretching your muscles well, because limber and flexible, loose, muscles can handle heavy workouts better than tight muscles.

It's always a good idea, too, to drink plenty of water. Dehydration is often the cause of leg cramps and water is good for you anyway, and helps keep necessary circulation through your body which will prevent leg cramps. Also, eat some bananas to keep up the amount of potassium in your system.

Those leg cramps can be painful but there are real and practical ways to deal with them.

Don't give up!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      3 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      I wake up at night with leg cramps on occasion. I had already discovered for myself that if I pull my toes up, to flex my foot, it gives me relief.

      That lengthens the calf muscle, while pointing the toes (that was my first instinct) shortens it .

      I'm sure this is very useful information for others who suffer with calf cramps.

    • NateB11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Nathan Bernardo 

      6 years ago from California, United States of America

      Thanks, Bill. Yes, there's nothing quite like a leg cramp; a combination of intense pain and totally losing control of one of your limbs. I used to get them often, at a time when I was very active physically. Stretching is definitely the immediate antidote, as difficult as it is.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Really very helpful. I woke up the other night with a leg cramp, and as painful as it is to do, stretching that cramp is the only way to find relief. Anyway, good job on this.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)