Leg Cramps: Causes, Prevention & Treatment
5 Minute Read

The What, Why, How of Leg Cramps (Thigh, Toe, and Calf Muscles)

Written By: Lakshmi Jaisimha
8 November 2022

Whether you experience leg cramps in the day or night, they can be painful. While not disastrous, leg cramps can often ruin your day or your sleep at night with a few minutes of muscle pain.

But what exactly are leg cramps? What causes them? And how can we treat them at home? We’ll answer all your questions in this article today!

Stay tuned till the end, as we will also share how you can ensure not to get leg cramps in the future.

What Are Leg Cramps?

Leg cramps are painful knots in your leg muscles. They happen when your muscles (bundles of fibers) involuntarily contract or tighten. 

They can cause mild to unbearable pain that can last for a few minutes. As soon as the muscle loosens up, the pain goes down.

Also known as Charley horses, leg muscle cramps are most common in calm or thigh muscles. They can happen for several reasons, but their most common cause is dehydration.

What Is Inner Thigh Pain? 

Certain motions or activities can cause the adductor muscles, which are located in the inner thighs, to strain or tear. One of these is turning or sprinting too quickly.

The resulting muscle injury may cause pain in the groin or inner thigh area.

In addition, any underlying medical issue, such as osteoarthritis, a hernia, or kidney stones, maybe the reason for them.

What Causes Leg Cramps? 

Causes of leg cramps include:

  • Dehydration or electrolyte imbalance: Lack of potassium and magnesium (which come from hydrating) can cause cramps. Too much exercise is one reason why you may be dehydrated. 
  • Improper standing or sitting positions: Staying in one position or the wrong position for a long period can irritate the muscles.
  • Health conditions: Pregnancy is one condition wherein the stress of the big belly or lack of nourishment can cause muscle fatigue. Other conditions include cold sweats, diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure, etc.

How To Prevent Leg Cramps From Happening In The First Place? 

You can prevent leg cramps by drinking enough water or eating foods that hydrate.

Try making stretching a part of your routine so your muscles don’t get strained often.

Also, if you have a health condition that may cause cramps, consult your doctor and see if there are any medications or natural remedies you can use.

How to treat Leg Cramps Immediately?

When you have a leg cramp be it in your thigh, toes, or calf muscles, try stretching or massaging your muscles. The remedies that work for leg cramps at night, also work on other cramps.

If your pain doesn’t go away soon, apply heat to the affected area. You can use a heating pad or massage your legs with warm oil. 

Foods And Drinks That Help Relieve Leg Cramps

1. Pickle Juice:  Pickle juice reduces the duration of cramps with the extensive amount of electrolytes it has. How, you ask? 

Pickle juice contains vinegar, which causes the brain to send a message instructing the muscles to relax.

2. Coconut Water: Full of electrolytes, coconut is highly hydrating. It replenishes the lost fluids in the body and helps relax the muscles. If you don’t have coconut water, you can make electrolyte water at home.

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3. Magnesium-rich foods: Leafy greens, peanut butter, nuts, seeds, bananas, and avocados are all keto-friendly foods that are rich in magnesium. 

Studies suggest lack of magnesium is one cause of cramps, and it’s also most common when following a keto diet plan.

How To Make Sure You Don’t Get Them Again In The Future? 

As already mentioned, make stretching and drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water a part of your routine. Yoga helps with this.

Also, make sure you regularly get your checkup done. Keep having tests to ensure the amount of potassium, sodium, and magnesium, along with other electrolytes in your body is at normal levels.

If they are less or more, you may experience health problems, including leg cramps.

Additionally, avoid spending a lot of time in the afternoon sun, avoid excessive exercise, and ensure that you eat a balanced diet.

Wrapping Up

Now you know what leg cramps are and how to get rid of leg cramps, whether they are in the thigh, calf, or toe muscles.

We also shared a list of foods and drinks with you, so you can change your diet in a way that leg cramps don’t trouble you frequently. 

But if you still experience painful leg cramps and our tips don’t seem to work, consider consulting a doctor. Your leg cramps may be due to an underlying health condition that needs treatment.

Want to know more about leg cramps and related issues? Ask your questions in the comments below!

What causes leg cramps at night in bed?

The wrong position of sleeping, dehydration or any health condition like pregnancy or diabetes can cause leg cramps at night. Other causes include arthritis, kidney failure, too much exercise during the day, and consumption of medications like diuretics.

Do bananas help with cramps?

They do. The extensive amounts of potassium and magnesium in bananas help maintain the electrolyte balance in the body. Thus, giving the muscles enough nourishment and helping them relax.  

What is the best vitamin for leg cramps?

While magnesium is one of the necessary minerals that are needed to reduce leg cramps, when it comes to vitamins there are many options. The best vitamins for leg cramps are vitamin B12, vitamin D, and vitamin B1. The lack of these minerals can cause weak muscle mass and thus increase the probability of pain from muscle cramps.

Can low B12 cause leg cramps?

Yes, low consumption of vitamin b12 can cause leg cramps. You can have foods like chicken, eggs, and dairy, to prevent the occurrence of leg muscle cramps.

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