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How to Deal With Cold Weather Leg Cramps

Cold weather leg cramps are a common complaint in the winter. Some people even claim they can “feel” when snow is approaching, because of the aches and pains in their legs. Cold weather leg cramps have less to do with the temperature and more to do with the habits we take on when the weather grows cold, and we spend less time outdoors and more time snuggled up on the sofa 1. With a slight adjustment in lifestyle, you can minimize the pain of cold weather leg cramps.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Move around. If your leg muscles are sore from sitting too long, they need to be stretched, especially if you are active during the warmer months and then slow down when it gets cold. Stretch in various positions. Your body will tell you which way to go. If it becomes painful, ease up or stop. Massage the sore area gently with your hand.

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Drink more water. Dehydration is a frequent cause of muscular cramps. It is common for people to stop drinking as much during the cold months, or to begin drinking the wrong things. Hot chocolate is fine, but you still need 8 glasses of water a day. If you need something hot to warm you up, uncaffeinated tea can count toward your 8 servings of water.

Take a warm bath or shower. This will help relax your muscles and your mind.

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Relieve pain by gently massaging the sore muscles, and then applying a cold compress or heating pad. If you still need relief, take an over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or Aleve. In some severe cases, it may be necessary to see your doctor to get a prescription pain medication.


If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before you take a pain medication.