Your mind has finally stopped racing and you've just nodded off, only to be rudely awakened by a deep knot of sudden pain in your thigh, calf or in the arch of your foot. Athletes and high heel wearers alike are often awakened from sleep by the infamous nocturnal leg cramp or "charley horse." And though these occasional cramps usually are not serious, they are undeniably painful and downright annoying.
Check your H20 levels
The exact cause of leg cramps is not known, however, they are most often associated with dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. That said, and you've heard it before, drinking the optimal amount of water - 7 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day - is the first line of defense against "charley." Staying hydrated is also important for overall health, so the water speech bears repeating!
Stretch those stems
Also, simple stretches before bed can stave off cramps. Try this simple stretch before you hop into bed each night:
- Stand facing the wall, 30 inches away.
- While keeping your heels on the floor, lean forward, put your palms on the wall, and slowly move your hands up the wall as far as you can reach comfortably.
- Hold the stretched position for 30 seconds. Release.
- Repeat steps 1 through 3 two more times.
Just remember, when stretching, to take it slowly. Jolting right into a deep stretch and quick bouncing motions through the stretch are mistakes that can cause injury.
Supplement your regimen
If you're still bothered by occasional cramping, your diet may need slight supplementation. According to Charles Kuntzleman, EdD, associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, taking a daily supplement of 400 IU of Vitamin E is usually very helpful. If the cramps persist, your body may be experiencing a lack of calcium and magnesium, found in dark green, leafy vegetables such as kale and broccoli. Dr. Kuntzleman suggests supplementing with daily dosages of up to 1,000 milligrams of magnesium and 500 to 1,000 milligrams of calcium.
How can chiropractic help?
Circulation is crucial for rushing nutrients from food and supplements to the areas of the body that need healing most. Chiropractic adjustments can improve circulation and greatly reduce healing time. Remember to inform your chiropractor if you're experiencing muscle cramps.