How to avoid leg cramps while sleeping or when waking up

Published: 19th June 2007
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About Leg Cramps

A leg cramp means an acute pain which usually originates from a muscle in the leg. It takes place when a muscle contracts too hard. Leg cramps usually occur in one of the calf muscles, below and behind the knee. The small muscles of the feet are sometimes affected.

A regular leg cramp pain can last from a few seconds to several minutes. Besides, the intensity of the pain varies according to each one's case. But, the damage in the muscles provoked by the cramp may remain up to 24 hours. In most cases, leg cramps occur when you are resting especially while sleeping or when you wake up. If not given the necessary attention, it can become a distressing problem which can disturb your regular sleep.

Causes of Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are mainly caused by a contraction of an already shortened muscle. So, contracting the leg further may cause the muscle to go into spasm. It happens frequently during sleep. The regular sleep position, we rest with the knees slightly flexed, and with feet pointing slightly downwards. So, the tension by shortening the calf muscle makes it susceptible to cramps. This theory explains why maintaining a correct posture could avoid this problem and stretching exercises may relieve the pain.

Relieving Leg Cramps

When you have a leg cramp, the first things you should do to relieve the pain is to:

• Walk on the wounded leg

• Massage the muscle gently

• Maintain your leg straight and flex it toward your knee until you feel the calf muscles stretch

• Put some ice on the affected muscle

For most people, these tips would be very effective for relieving leg cramps. In some rare cases, these tips don't work and the pain becomes uncontrollable. In this situation medical help is recommended.

Avoiding leg cramps

The most important thing you should do to avoid leg cramps is to prevent them. So, the first step to take is to maintain a correct posture of the legs during sleep. You should try a pillow that keeps your leg correctly aligned depending on the way you prefer to sleep. If you sleep on your back, you should maintain your feet in a higher level than the bed. If you sleep on your side you should use a pillow to maintain your legs slightly apart, so the leg you're lying on doesn't receive all the pressure of the other one's weight.

Nowadays, many doctors recommend using orthopedic pillows because they are especially designed to maintain a correct position of the leg and feet. By doing so, you will be able to live free of pain when you wake up and you will get up with a much better mood for a new day.

Summary: Most of us have had an occasional leg cramp when we wake up. But, sometimes we can experience this annoying pain more frequently than usual especially in older people. They occur every day in some cases. Keep reading the article below to learn an effective way to avoid leg cramps at wake up.

Author Bio: D. Charles Jameson is a freelancer copywriter and editor. His latest article talks about the positive effects of the leg wedge pillow, which is currently gaining more adepts because it avoids leg cramps. You can read more info about it at

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