What Causes Leg Cramps? Symptoms, Triggers, Treatments

man with leg cramp while exercising

A New Year Resolution often includes exercise, dieting and usually in excess! Here’s one thing to look out for as you ramp up your lifestyle changes in the hotter months. Leg Cramps!

While leg cramps are common and often harmless, the pain it can bring can be excruciating. Cramp is a sudden and involuntary muscle contraction that produces tightness and pain around the affected area. The calf muscles are always the most affected. However, it can also affect the feet and even thighs.

The key symptom of a typical leg cramp is often an abrupt and sharp throbbing pain. Sometimes it can be accompanied by a hard swelling of muscle tissue right under the skin. The aftermath of any cramping is usually pain and tenderness that can persist for several hours before it goes away. But severe ones could last longer, often needing professional help.

Probable Causes of Leg Cramps

No one can precisely tell why leg cramps occur, but experts say it could be due to muscle overuse or dehydration. A range of intense physical activities such as running and weight training could also be to blame. Also, a muscle cramp can occur due to holding a particular position for a prolonged period.

Around this time of year in summer, expert sources make mention of the ambient heat of summer, dehydration and a lack of stretching as underlying reasons a muscle belly could have its adequate nutrition through its blood supply, compromised.

Another likely cause could be mineral depletion. For example, if your body has had negligible amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, it can cause painful leg cramps.

Some of the risk factors include age, such that as you get older, you begin to suffer muscle mass depletion. Any of the muscles that remain are prone to overuse leading to leg cramps. Other risks are pregnancy.

What Are the Main Leg Cramp Triggers?

Although there isn’t any clear explanation as to why the condition suddenly comes on, certain situations could onset it. For example, most cramps happen at that ungodly hour of the night and when you are deeply asleep. It could be that the slight bend of legs with feet facing downward makes the legs somehow tighten. Be sure to go to bed hydrated and have a gentle stretch in the hours leading up to sleep time.

Best Exercises to Treat Muscle Cramps

A few simple exercises targeting the affected muscles can relieve leg cramps. One of the most useful activities that may perhaps banish leg cramps is stretches. Daytime stretch exercises are the best, and you might require to use a step on which you can stand with half of your feet.

Your heels should be hanging off the edge as you slowly and gently lower to the step’s level. Hold the position for a few seconds, then back to the starting point with a few repetitions. Remember persistent leg cramping despite the exercises, may needs a checkup from your chiro or massage therapist. The clinician can stretch, massage and strengthen the area.


The best way to prevent persistent leg cramps is to identify critical triggers, risk factors, and causes. Once you do so, you can stop anything that could lead to the condition. Other than that, stretches and regular but gentle self massages can bring relief. Other people often recommend applying hot or cold packs at the onset of any contraction to alleviate the pain.

Feel free to reach out to one of us if you need some help with leg cramping https://waterloochiropractic.cliniko.com/bookings?business_id=8196

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