It was the middle of the night. All was quiet in the house when suddenly I heard a noise. It sounded like the noise you make when the doctor tells you to say ah with a stick down your throat, only much louder. Once again, my husband was awakened by those painful and irritating leg cramps, and at two in the morning, I was up rubbing them out, so yes, this article is personal.
Leg cramps otherwise known as a charley horse, are the result of a tightening and sharp contraction of the calf muscle. They can affect men and women equally and seem to have no restriction on age. For the sake of today’s article, we will address the common culprit in what continues the strike and inflict pain, often without any warning.
- Dehydration: Water is God’s juice, and the body is in constant need of it, this keeps muscles and tendons lubricated and able to absorb the stresses of your day. Whether it be walking the stairs or running in a marathon, if your body is depleted of this essential nutrient, you are prone to get a visit in the night or the day of leg cramps.
- Electrolytes: When your body loses water, it loses electrolytes, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. This is crucial to keeping the balance of your body’s intricate networking. It also helps a healthy nervous system, regular heart contractions, and even breathing.
- Overuse: This is common in athletes who train with frequency and high intensity.
- Medication: Many medications can cause a charley horse, but the most common is blood pressure medication because many of these meds deplete the body of potassium, which then upsets the delicate balance with electrolytes.
While there are several reasons for leg cramps, to include pregnancy, arthritis, exhaustion, and vascular disease, most cramps arise out of issues with an improper balance of hydration and electrolytes. Most athletes rely on sports drinks. However, if you wish to save a few dollars, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water works very well in restoring potassium which is the main culprit in most attacks of leg cramps. I am happy to report it has also decreased the number of times I am up rubbing a sore leg in the night.