Q: Why do my calves cramp while I’m asleep and what can I do to prevent and/or deal with it?

A: There are certain medical conditions that can predispose a person to leg cramps but for most, the causes are unclear. They tend to happen most when there is a fluid imbalance or vitamin deficiency so the best way to prevent them is to do the following:

  • drink lots of fluids & limit diuretics like coffee and tea
  • consume foods rich in electrolytes (calcium, potassium and magnesium), which are natural muscle relaxants and can include dairy, bananas and broccoli OR take a supplement, preferably at night
  • be sure to wear supportive shoes and stretch regularly
  • untuck the bed covers at the foot of your bed to keep your ankle in a neutral position while you sleep
  • apply topical magnesium chloride, a natural muscle relaxant, to your calves before bed

If a cramp happens anyway, these ideas should help ease it:

  1. flex your foot up toward your head and hold for 30 seconds
  2. massage the cramping muscle with your hands or with ice
  3. put some weight on your foot or jiggle the leg
  4. apply a warm compress as the pain subsides
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