There is a squatting hypothesis that we use chairs and no longer squat allowing muscles and tendons to shorten creating a cramping environment(1). Yet the simple message of move more is not helpful for some cramps, even though they make you move when they happen! Nocturnal cramps being the worst picking their time to strike when you aren’t asleep or perhaps awake. In the hypnagogic state pain can certainly be an unpleasant surprise. But what can we do about leg cramps…
Leg cramps in children may give rise to investigations for Glycogen Storage Diseases when associated with tea coloured urine. Ordinary leg cramps in adults can be caused by randomly firing anterior horn cells (in the spinal cord)(2), excess caffeine (3) and unaccustomed vigorous exercise (2). There is also an association between leg cramps and peripheral vascular disease (2).
Medication muscle cramp side effects should be discussed with your prescribing clinician whilst they likely test your urine and your thyroid function. Further testing may involve Mg, Ca and K levels.
Cramping whilst having dialysis is quite different to ordinary cramps yet both might be helped by quinine. Reducing smoking and/or nicotine levels in your vape juice and/or your ‘attentional effort’ could all help reduce cramps because nicotine mimics Ach and an increase in Ach can give rise to muscular cramps (4). Suggesting that when we are finding it difficult to make sense of our situation, self or life etc we may be more liable for cramps then too.
Whilst you are reducing caffeine, nicotine and sensibly getting physical activity to a sustainable level you could apply Magnesium Oil Spray to your legs to help with ordinary cramps as they happen, or as a preventative before going to sleep at night. Mg Oil can also help with the after cramp feeling you get throughout the next day. If you are training for an exercise goal such as a 10k run then you may be wise in addition to just water to use electrolyte replacement drinks.
When having ordinary cramps your muscles and joints may become imbalanced. Meaning you could benefit from Chiropractic Care for the prevention of muscular imbalance and a chance of avoiding accumulation toward a ‘cramping threshold’ (at the intramuscular nerve terminals (2)).
- Sontag SJ Wanner JN (1988) The cause of leg cramps and knee pains: An hypothesis and effective treatment. Medical Hypothesis 25 35-41
- JV Butler EC Mulkerin and ST O’Keeffe (2002) Nocturnal Leg Cramps in Older People Post Graduate Medical Journal 78 (924) 596
- M Molena et al (2007) Caffeine and Muscle Cramps: A Stimulating Connection The American Journal of Medicine 120 (8) e1
- I. Klinkinberg (2011) Acetylcholine and Attention Behavioural Brain Research 221 (2) 430-42