Nocturnal leg cramps - often referred to as Charley Horse - are pains that occur in the legs, mainly calves, during the night. They will usually cause sudden awakening from sleep with moderate to severe pain. These cramps mostly happen in the calf muscles but can also occur in the thighs or feet.
In my experience the only way to release the cramp is to immediately stretch the muscle in the opposite direction! Use a towel or your blanket, wrap it around the bottom of your toes and ball of foot and... pull with all your might! Believe me, these cramps can mobilize immense strength in your muscles - involuntarily!
Symptoms may last from several seconds up to several minutes. Muscle soreness might continue for days after the cramp goes away. I my most extreme case I ended up limping for weeks!
The cause of nocturnal leg cramps is often times unknown, but some cases have been linked to:
* Sitting for long periods of time
* Over-exertion of the muscles
* Standing/working on concrete floors
* Sitting improperly
Aside from an array of medical conditions, one of the major causes is dehydration/imbalance of electrolytes. Especially with summer upon us be sure to stay well hydrated throughout the day, rather than drinking a lot of fluid prior to sleep – bathroom breaks!
As a trained physical and massage therapist I can assess your posture, body mechanics and muscle status, addressing contributing factors that cause these rather painful cramps!
I know how it feels!
Deep Tissue Massage is one of the most efective treatments on my opinion, breaking up adhesions in the deep layers of your muscles, allowing toxins to be flushed out and nutrients brought to the area for optimal function of the tissue.
If cramps are severe and frequent I will also incorporate stretching into the massage to lengthen the muscles, making them more subtle and less susceptable to cramping.
Regular activity, even walking, followed by stretching will go a long way to avoid these unwelcomed interruptions of your precious sleep!
Don't wake me... I'm dreaming...