leg muscle structure

Causes for Concern, Nighttime Muscle Cramps As We Age

It should be concerning. The medical community has proven that nighttime leg cramps increase with age. In fact, most non athletic adults will experience their first nighttime leg cramp around age 50. While these horrible experiences can be unbearable, they are manageable.

What are Nighttime Leg Cramps? leg muscle structure

A foot and leg cramp episode may go something like this. You’re in a deep and restful slumber and all of a sudden horrible pain strikes one of your calf muscles causing an immediate reaction to Just. Stop. The. Pain.

It’s an involuntary response in our bodies, no one would ever choose to move a certain way in bed to set one of these horrible experiences in motion. When afflicted with a nighttime leg cramp it’s not only apparent from the lightning fast onset of unbearable pain, but one can almost always see the spasm happening to the muscle just under the skin.

As our team reported in this article, the main causes are unknown however, they are more prevalent in our golden years. With 1/3 of all people over age 60 afflicted with nighttime leg cramps. While they can singularly affect your foot, ankle, calf or thigh, they can also affect the entire leg as a whole. The most common leg cramp in bed happens in the calf region making it nearly impossible to find relief by just allowing the leg cramp to pass.

Unspoken Causes of Nighttime Leg Cramps

mature couple happyFor starters, if you’re over 50 you’re most likely not suffering from leg cramps from pregnancy. There are other causes and societal issues such as alcoholism that will play a role in ensuring electrolyte deficiencies that result in long term nocturnal leg cramps, particularly the leg cramps in bed at night. If that is what is causing you to go in search of this article for relief we encourage you to seek medical attention for the addiction and not simply cure your nighttime leg cramps as a stand-alone symptom.

It’s nearly unheard of to be at or near our 50’s and not have been on some kind of long term medication. Here’s a staggering statistic. According to the CDC there were 2.6billion drugs ordered during 75% of all physician office visits across the country for all ages in 2010. It’s clear that we have a rise of prescribed medication and we see evidence of this everyday on television with ads that list all the wonderful reasons to take a specific medication and quickly tell you how might bleed from your eyes, ears and go into rapid liver failure with daily use.

A common side effect of a lot of meds prescribed in our older years, is nighttime leg cramps. AARP reported on the many different medications that cause leg pain while sleeping which spills over into nighttime leg cramps. Among those are several different classes of diuretics which makes complete sense as we already know that dehydration, among several other things will cause cramps in the legs at night.

Also on that list were some that were surprising. There’s a strong possibility if you’re over age 55 that one of your daily medications controls your blood pressure. In fact, 90% of all Americans have been told they have or have had high blood pressure at some point in their lives.

Beta-blockers that are used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats also are a known nocturnal leg cramp culprit. This isn’t uncommon for older people that take these medications, however, there’s no known reason why it happens.

Another common type of medication that is prescribed in our golden years treats high cholesterol and the buildup of plaque in our arteries. Statins also lessen the inflammatory response in our bodies and reduce the risk of heart attack in stroke. There are so many people on statins today, there’s even a debate going on where or not statins should be automatically prescribed in our 40’s and whether everyone should be on them.

Statins however, suppress muscle growth. So as you might be getting in that extra bit of weight training to help protect your bones, the statin can be working against you. How does this cause nighttime leg cramps you ask? They deplete muscle energy and the system that transports all the electrical impulses through the body.

Foot and leg cramps become extremely more prevalent at night with medications to treat other symptoms of other issues. Before you know it, you’re taking a medication for the side effect of another medication and the chain goes on. To read the full list of medications AARP discussed in the article, click here.

If you’re getting up there in years getting enough exercise and living an active lifestyle will help ward off those irritating foot and leg cramps at night. Simple stretches everyday will help, keeping those muscles in your legs flowing with blood and oxygen while elongated for 10-15 seconds will help a lot. Which leads us to the other unspoken reason we may have experienced leg cramps in bed causing you to search for a cure.

Depression isn’t a direct link to being a cause for nighttime leg cramps, but it does have a response on the melatonin and serotonin levels in your brain. Without having the proper amounts of fluids in your body, again we go back to looking at the electronic response in your system. Without the proper amount of electrolytes balancing those electronic impulses, we might not feel up to moving at all, which keeps our older generations in a sedentary state, with little to no desire for activity at all.

What Can You Do?

Start by reading our article on nighttime leg cramps that gives the #1 Top Tip as a perfect solution while providing a long term cure! Recovery e21 is our all organic, full spectrum electrolyte supplement is the best cure available on the market today and won’t interfere with your current daily medications.

Next, drink plenty of fluids and perhaps seek out a yoga class specifically for seniors. Getting those muscles stretched and keeping them strong is a great first step in taking personal action to cure your own nighttime leg cramps. Especially when giving up those daily medications isn’t an option. This will be great for your mind AND your body!

Oh and as a side note. While researching cures for this article I came across a guy that gave this bit of advice in curing nighttime leg cramps instantly. It’s almost hard not to chuckle as I write it all out for you.

He says to “Pinch your upper lip for 20-30 seconds you can make your leg cramp stop.” Really?!?! I don’t’ know about you but when I’m in the middle of a charley horse that makes my calf explode I’m not thinking about pinching my upper lip!! But it’s probably worth a try.

person with a leg cramp

What Is Good For Leg Cramps: Top Tips For Relief!

It’s been said that leg cramps don’t discriminate—they can affect anyone at any time in the eye of the perfect physical storm. They can feel like everything from a small muscle twitch to full on body assault—shocking us into submission as they demand our complete and pain-filled attention. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or where you are, time stands still and nothing else matters until that mad and pissed off leg cramp is extinguished. You’ve heard professional athletes such as LeBron James and Nate Robinson talk them. You’ve most definitely experienced them for yourself.

Before getting into the top tips on how to reduce leg cramps, let’s first understand them.

Most Common Types of Leg Cramps

While there are several types of leg cramps there are 3 very common types of leg cramps. Each has a different cause that is often misdiagnosed—and with a little understanding you have a better chance of deciding on the best way to get rid of those dreaded leg cramps.

  • Activity Induced Leg Cramps

person with leg crampsWhether you’re a gym rat, runner, or normally don’t participate in much activity at all leg cramps can come on from too much activity or even muscle fatigue. It could be that you have now taken your training to a new level to break a plateau, became a little too zealous on that first bike ride of the season or simply just walked a 5k with your team from work. These types of leg cramps are related to over exertion. Trying to remedy leg cramps during or after unaccustomed workouts may become part of your routine if your body isn’t used to that type of activity.

Top Tip: Treating these types of leg cramps with some good old fashioned muscle stretching exercises before you end your workout might do the trick. Or, you may be able to get rid of the leg cramps by taking a hot bath in Epsom salts while you massage them in the tub. The magnesium and sodium will be absorbed by your skin and the warm water and massage will help move the lactic acid through the muscle tissue that built up during your work out.

  • Resting or Nighttime Leg Cramps

Ugh, these horrible leg cramps traditionally happen at night while we’re deep in a restful slumber. Turning over in bed, you stretch your foot forward pointing your toe…and BAM! You’ve unknowingly triggered a massive attack on your calf muscles because rather than stretching them—the responded to being shortened.

The causes for these nighttime leg cramps are unknown, but speculation points to doing a lot of activity or not doing enough activity during your regular day. Most people who live sedentary lifestyles or have desk jobs, tend to experience more of these at night as well as people who exercise more than normal or train extra hard.

With that said nighttime leg cramps seem to increase in the golden years. Being more common in people over 50, they can become a frustrating part of life as we age; 33% of seniors over age 60 experience nighttime leg cramps at least once a month. While nighttime leg cramps can affect your leg as a whole, the calf muscles are usually the area that contracts into cramping.

Some cramping episodes can last up to 20 minutes, which in the world of leg cramps feels like an eternity. You may feel an intense urge to massage the painful dreaded muscle or jump out of bed to stand on that leg to bring relief. Once you get to the other side, you’re exhausted and feel as if you’ve just ran the Boston Marathon. Getting back to a blissful sleep may be difficult. The one thing you can certainly look forward to is a painful and sore muscle from those dreaded leg cramps the next day.

Top Tip: How to prevent Rest Leg Cramps is determined by a Process of Elimination.

  1. Do you live a sedentary lifestyle or work at a desk?

The answer is simple—push yourself away from your desk and go for a walk or climb a set of stairs rather than take the elevator as every opportunity presents itself to do so. Change positions frequently. Another tip is to put your feet up on a footstool under your desk, this one has helped many people stop leg cramps. Lastly, Attempt to be up out of your chair for at least 10 minutes for every 2-3 hours you work.

  1. Are you doing too much of one activity such as standing on your feet all day?

Contractions can also stem from overstimulated nerve endings from being on your feet too long. The answer becomes stretching and strength training to help build up the muscle tissue to endure the activity that’s causing the issue in the first place.

  • Leg Cramps Caused by Dehydration

These are often confused with the cause of resting leg cramps as most people go straight to dehydration for most leg cramp issues and overlook areas that are your true culprits. None-the-less, dehydration-inducedpouring water into a glass leg cramps can even be considered worse as there’s a strong likelihood that in addition to not having enough fluids in your body, other things are taking place as a result.

Everything from a high rate of perspiration to catching a tummy bug, to prescribed medications to simply not drinking enough fluids during the course of the day, dehydration will cause everything from dry mouth, headache, lethargy, over-all fatigue, as well as peeled and cracking lips. Oh, and ….yes, leg cramps.

Our Recovery e21 R&D team has researched why the body needs electrolytes extensively as its part of our product development. Electrolyte depletion is a result of dehydration which affects the entire blood system as electrolytes are minerals that carry electric charge throughout your system. The class of electrolyte minerals is made up sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, hydrogen phosphate, and hydrogen carbonate. Not having the right amount of magnesium for example might cause you to have headaches that you’ve not experienced before, however; is also extra hard on your heart and may even cause cardiac arrest.

Top Tip: The best way to get rid of leg these cramps are through hydration and replacing the depleted electrolytes. So next question is how much water should I drink every day? Mayo Clinic has written a very easy to understand article that explains that—click here to get the full pitcher on how much water you should drink.

With several options out there for electrolyte replacement, our favorite and most non-invasive way is replacing electrolytes nutritionally. For simple leg cramp cases (infrequent, random), this can be as easy as doing the following:

Coconut Water

Skip the sugar laden Gatorade and opt for coconut water! Read why coconut water is a powerhouse of nutrition and learn its benefits. You’ll be sipping and icy glass of delicious coconut water soon!

Bananas

Eat bananas to get up to 400mg of potassium in a single serving. Try a banana a day for a week—and see how you feel.

Salt

Feel free to salt your food! It’s okay to add a little extra—salt holds fluid and with adding a little extra salt, you’re rehydrating and also adding extra chloride too. Two birds with one stone! Yeah!

Up the Kale, Spinach and Broccoli

These delicious leafy green veges contain extra magnesium and are incredible for reducing free radicals in your blood stream. Are you also fatigued and tired? Count on these bright beauties to give you extra energy during your workout, too!

#1 Top Tip: Recovery e21!

Here’s a unique, healthy, preventative leg cramp solution. Just as every person is different, researching what is good for leg cramps can be frustrating at best and again, the treatments above are effective for those that have infrequent, random leg cramps.

If you’re suffering is more common, long-lasting or they occur on a regular basis, try Recovery e21. Our solution will not only bring you relief, it’ll help prevent them from happening in the first place.

Here’s why.

2 pack e21First of all Recovery e21 is a natural, organic, full spectrum electrolyte replacement supplement. Second, it’s easy on your system because it’s non-synthetic and is completely bio-available as your body needs it.

What is bio-available? Compared to synthetic electrolyte replacements, they are difficult on your body and are processed as waste in the body when not used. Recovery e21 is naturally absorbed into your body on stand-by and available as needed.

Where does it come from? Rather than just replace a few of the needed mineral elements you may be missing causing your leg cramps, you are now able to benefit from a source found in the ocean. What can be more natural and organic than that?

Recovery e21 contains 114 elements that come from a natural, single cell marine algae found in the waters off the coast of Australia. It’s made perfectly balanced to provide the full range of electrolytes giving your body the opportunity to use every element for replacement putting you on the road to recovery and prevention.

Unfortunately, e21 is no longer available. You can find a choice of replacements HERE on Amazon.com