I know by the title you think I am going to talk about my kids. Actually, in the summer they are much less annoying. As it turns out, it is more their ridiculous schedules than their mere presence that makes me crazy. If I didn’t have to apply sunscreen and attend to mosquito bites, I would be in Utopia. As good as summer is, there are still things that can put a cramp in your day. I am going to start a brief series on the small stuff – sometimes it is hard not to sweat it.
TODAY – Leg Cramps
Tomorrow – Those stupid little pimples you get on your tongue
After that – I’m open to suggestions.
Nighttime Leg Cramps (Charley Horses)
1. Usually occurring just as you are falling asleep or right when you wake up, leg cramps are caused by a sudden spasm of the skeletal muscle. Most often people complain of cramps in their calves but the thigh and foot can be affected too. They last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes and they hurt like hell.
2. They can be a result of both overuse of a muscle and lack of use – sitting or standing still for extended periods of time. A deficiency of potassium or calcium and dehydration are also to blame. They occur very often in pregnancy for a variety of reasons probably including that the baby is sucking everything out of you and the large load has you sleeping in weird positions.
3. You can try to prevent leg cramps by staying hydrated – drinking lots of water and cutting down on caffeine. Getting a variety of healthy foods in your diet will ensure that the cramps are not caused by a vitamin or mineral deficiency. Avoid being stagnant. Even if you must sit or stand all day, make an effort to stretch and move your limbs frequently. You can also stretch right before you go to bed to get the blood flowing to your muscles. Keep the covers at your feet very loose to avoid awkward foot positions and wear sensible shoes. Another valuable tip is to use birth control.
4. When you get them, first let out a guttural scream and wake everyone up. Then, slowly try to get out of bed. Walking and putting pressure on the foot is the quickest way to get rid of the pain. Slowly is operative word. It is late at night, one leg isn’t operating properly, your spouse is yelling at you and you are in pain. It is a set up for a fall or injury. If the thought of moving your leg makes you want to cry, try rubbing the muscle or moving the foot with your hands. My favorite trick is to move the other foot and leg as much as possible as your brain doesn’t play favorites and will increase blood flow to both legs. Your leg may hurt for a few days afterward. Warm water and massage may help.
5. When to see a doctor – If the cramps occur frequently despite attempts to prevent them and they interfere with your sleep and your daily activities, consider making an appointment with your doctor. There are several medications and medical conditions that can cause or exacerbate leg cramps. Most often though, they are just annoying – hence, the title of this entry.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I would get leg cramps quite often. They are no laughing matter. If you have never experienced one, liken it to being shot in the leg at close range. It happens that quickly. Just one more reason to hydrate frequently. How is my grandmother still going strong at 94 when I don’t believe she ever had a glass of water in her life? Two cups of coffee and a V8 every day. They really knew how to make things back then. For us mere mortals, drink more water. My new trick is to have it in a huge, plastic wine glass – it goes down so much easier. Yes, my neighbors are raising an eyebrow when I exit my house at 9am with glass in hand, but my body is thanking me for it.