Throughout my running career I have gotten Nocturnal Leg Cramps. I’ve noticed that I get them if I start an intense training plan. Last night I got a nocturnal leg cramp but I am not sure why. I actually have been running less than normal lately. I tapered off for a race this past weekend and have had some knee pain this week so I have been running less than normal. I get my Nocturnal Leg Cramps in my calves but they can also be experienced in the feet or thighs. The cramp is an involuntary (of course, you’re asleep) and forcible contraction of the muscles. The pain can be sharp and last from a few seconds to minutes. Nocturnal Leg Cramps are one of those medical phenomenons that no one agrees upon or knows exactly why they occur. Here come the blogs to fill that void! I have heard hypothesizes about overexertion of muscles, flat feet, standing on concrete, dehydration, low levels of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, or sodium, and the reduced blood flow causing Nocturnal Leg Cramps. I think it is one of those medical issues that you just have to figure out for yourself. Don’t worry, I can help you with your scientific method. Think about every time you have experienced a nocturnal leg cramp and try to determine a universal theme of those nights. My personal theory has been that overexertion of muscles; however, that theory may have been broken last night. At any rate, simply listen to what your body is telling you. I know you don’t like being told what to do, but your body is important. It has feelings too you know.
Once you determine what may be causing your nocturnal leg cramps you need to try to prevent them. If you think it is due to a lack a minerals, then trying eating more greens, mixed nuts, or whole grains which are rich in magnesium. Being the athlete that you are, I’m sure you are already making sure you have enough potassium, calcium, and sodium. I like to eat off of a periodic table place mat with each dish of my meal on top of its corresponding element to make sure I get all the minerals I need. You don’t have to be as precise as me though. I’m a perfectionist. If you think blood circulation is your problem, then rub ice over your calves before going to sleep. If you need the ice for you bedtime mixed drink, then use heat to improve your blood circulation. I always turn the heat on before I go to bed anyways…ah yeah. Your sleeping positions may have something to do with it too. If you sleep on your back, then use a pillow to prop your legs up. If you are a stomach sleeper, try hanging your feet over the end of the bed. If you don’t know which way you sleep then stop sleeping alone. If you can not find someone to watch you sleep, then simply make sure the blanket isn’t tucked tightly at the end of the bed so your toes aren’t pointing forward. This can also cause cramps.
If you get a leg cramp at night, you first want to stretch it out. The best way to combat a contracting muscle; don’t allow it to contract. After the cramp is over make sure you continue to stretch it out throughout the day. The effects of a nocturnal leg cramp can stay with you for a day or two. Once the initial cramp is over, stand up and walk around…there’s nothing to see here. Don’t act like you’re not impressed. Go ahead and give yourself a massage, it’s fine. Also try to apply some heat for full relaxation. Aw yeah. It’s time to go back to dreamland. Not for long though, you have to get up and run 8 miles in 2 hours! Son of a….