Leg cramps: Where do they come from?

At night, leg cramps set in almost imperceptibly until you are suddenly overcome with pain and awakened from your precious slumber.

Healthy legs – varicose veins

Sonia Chartier

02 June 2014

Leg cramps can occur for several reasons:

  • Varicose veins
  • Magnesium deficiency, which causes poor calcium absorption
  • Sudden decrease or increase in physical activity
  • Dehydration


Lying in bed can exacerbate the situation. When blood stagnates in varicose or weak veins, it causes edema (swelling), tired, heavy legs, and leg pain.

To relieve pain caused by varicose veins:

  • Rest your feet on a pillow with your legs elevated to keep blood from pooling in your legs while you sleep.
  • Apply Venaforce Gel to your legs before bedtime, gently massaging upward toward the heart (to encourage blood flow to the heart).
  • In the longer term, treat varicose veins with Venaforce Extra horse chestnut tabs.

Cramps induced by a magnesium deficiency can be aggravated by stress, as the nervous system relies heavily on the mineral. Magnesium is essential to the proper functioning of the adrenal glands, which release adrenaline in times of stress.

Since magnesium is also vital for other things like keeping muscles relaxed and free of knots, when the adrenal glands are eating up all your magnesium, there isn’t any left for your muscles, which is why you end up with nasty cramps.

To relieve cramps caused by a magnesium deficiency:

  • Take a magnesium supplement along with A.Vogel Calcium Absorber-Urticalcin to help balance out magnesium and calcium levels in the body.
  • Eat more magnesium-rich foods such as Brazil nuts, cashews, sesame seeds, soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas, millet, oats, brown rice, figs, spinach, dark green vegetables, dried apricots, buckwheat and bananas.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that contain caffeine, as it drains your magnesium supply.
  • Diuretics can also lower magnesium levels. If you are experiencing muscle cramps and you use diuretics, speak to a healthcare professional.

Interestingly, magnesium levels in the body are controlled primarily by the kidneys, which filter and then reabsorb the mineral. Fifty to sixty per cent of magnesium in the body is stored in the bones, and any excess is expelled in your urine.

Stretching before and after physical exertion helps reduce the risk of cramping. If you exercise regularly and have to stop suddenly for whatever reason, make a point to continue to stretch every day. Otherwise, as a way of fighting the sudden inactivity, your muscles that were accustomed to being used regularly could subject you to agonizing cramps.

To relieve the pain caused by changes in the intensity of your exercise routine:

  • Drink plenty of water when you engage in physical activity to prevent the excruciating combination of dehydration paired with exercise-induced cramps.
  • Potassium-rich foods can also help: leafy greens, whole grains, sunflower and sesame seeds, bananas, apricots, figs, raisins, soybeans, chickpeas, Brazil nuts and walnuts, avocados and blackcurrants.

Lastly, cramps caused by dehydration are easily treated: be sure to drink at least 1.5 litres of water daily and consume fewer caffeinated beverages or avoid them altogether.

If you love soft drinks, be aware that these could also be causing you cramps, so you may want to consider cutting down.

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