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How to Get Rid of Feet & Leg Cramps

By Sandra Ketcham ; Updated August 14, 2017

Cramps are involuntary contractions, or spasms, of a single muscle or group of muscles. Feet and leg cramps occur most commonly during the night, during times of rest or following vigorous activity. They develop suddenly and may last as long as 10 minutes, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Dehydration, sitting improperly or for long periods, over-exertion of the muscles in the feet and legs, and standing on concrete floors may all contribute to cramps. Getting rid of feet and leg cramps involves easing acute muscle spasms and making a few lifestyle changes to reduce the frequency and severity of future cramps.

Massage your affected leg or foot by rubbing it gently to ease the muscle tension. Massage also increases blood flow to the muscle, thereby relieving cramping and reducing pain, according to the Sports Injury Clinic.

Stretch the affected muscle by straightening your leg and pointing your toes up toward your body. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, or AAOS, suggests holding the affected leg in this position until the cramp is completely gone. Stretching is also helpful at preventing night cramps when done before going bed.

Apply hot or cold compresses to your foot or leg. Rubbing ice along the affected muscle, or taking a warm bath or shower, can relax a muscle cramp and ease inflammation.

Increase your fluid intake. Dehydration is a primary cause of feet and leg cramps, and conditions that contribute to dehydration or increase fluid loss from the body, such as electrolyte imbalances, diarrhea or chronic kidney failure can all increase your risk of cramps. Excessive sweating due to exercise or illness also contributes, and the AAOS recommends drinking a rehydration solution during exercise in hot weather to prevent muscle spasms caused by a loss of potassium, magnesium, calcium and salt.

Change the way you sleep to prevent night cramps in your calves or feet. Untuck the covers at the foot of your bed before going to sleep so that your feet are able to move freely while you sleep. The NYU Langone Medical Center also suggests sleeping with your toes pointing upward.

Try medication or nutritional supplements to ease your cramps. The Cleveland Clinic states that muscle relaxants and vitamin E might help get rid of muscle cramps. Calcium and magnesium supplements, as well as the medications verapamil, carbamazepine, quinine sulfate, chloroquine phosphate and phenytoin, may also be beneficial, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center.

Treat any underlying conditions that may be triggering your feet and leg cramps. The Cleveland Clinic explains that a variety of health conditions are associated with an increased risk of cramps, including peripheral vascular disease, endocrine disorders, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and the use of oral contraceptives or other medications.

Ease pregnancy-related leg cramps by wearing supportive stockings, applying local heat and elevating your legs. According to the American Pregnancy Association, feet and leg cramps are more common during pregnancy due to weight gain, changes in blood flow, and pressure on the blood vessels and nerves in the legs.

Tips

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that three muscle groups are primarily affected by cramps: the hamstrings at the back of the thigh, the quadriceps at the front of the thigh and the gastrocnemuis muscles at the back of the calf.

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