Over-the-counter and prescription medications for leg cramps can cause side effects, especially when taken over time. Using home remedies for leg cramps in place of medicines can help you avoid those unwanted side effects. You’ll find 15 time-tested home remedies for leg cramps in this article along with step-by-step, how-to instructions.
Leg cramps often strike without warning. One moment you’re fine, and the next you’re facing severe, throbbing pain. Muscle cramps in the legs can arise from exertion due to exercise, dehydration, medications and medical conditions. Whatever the cause, if you’re experiencing leg cramps regularly, you’re sure to be longing for relief.
One of the most important things that you can do to stop a leg cramp is to make sure you have enough potassium. A deficiency in potassium can be responsible for these cramps and is in fact the primary reason that people get leg cramps. Be sure that you are eating foods that are rich in both potassium and electrolytes.
These foods include:
- Ancient grains
- Cage-free eggs
- Grass fed meat
- Make food that is full of the above ingredients.
- Be sure that you prepare your meals in advance to make them easier to eat when symptoms arise.
You can also take Potassium/Vitamin K supplements by following the directions on the package, or talk to your doctor before using the supplements.
2. B Vitamins
You also need to be sure that you are getting enough B vitamins. Those who get leg cramps from a lack of vitamn K also get it from a lack of B vitamins. You can find B vitamins in a lot of the same foods as you would find potassium, including:
Take these supplements as directed on the bottle or by your doctor.
Be sure that if you are working out regularly you are stretching before and after you do so. It is a great way to stop leg cramps. This is because those who are physically fit often have great muscle mass and therefore have less inflammation. To keep it that way, you need to be massaging and stretching your major muscle groups.
- Before you workout, warm up by jogging in place. You can also gently rehearse the motions that you will be performing in the exercise. Work on getting your heart rate up a little bit and bring blood to your muscles.
- After the workout, spend around 10 to 15 minutes stretching out your main muscle groups. Hold these stretches for at least 30 seconds at a time. Be sure that you are stretching vulnerable places such as your ankles, hamstrings and quads.
Massage your muscle groups as well. You can do this on your own by following some guides. It might be better if you regularly go to a massage parlor where a professional masseuse can do this for you, so that you can take preventative measures in keeping your muscles loose and healthy.
If you feel a leg cramp coming on, you can massage at the muscle that feels like it is cramping up. This can help stop it before it even starts.
- Gently massage the affected area along the muscle
Dehydration is a major player in muscle cramps. For this reason, it is important that you are staying hydrated and drinking enough water. This is especially true if you work out regularly. Drink enough water depending on the size of your body as well. This means if you are larger and more active, you need to be drinking more water at once.
It is also important to drink more water on days where the weather is hot and you find yourself sweating more often. If you are drinking alcohol, you will want to drink more water as well.
- Drink a minimum of eight glasses of water every day.
- Carry a bottle of water around with you everywhere to remind yourself.
6. Ice Pack
Pressing an ice pack to the affected leg muscle that is cramping can help stop it, too. This is because it can help to loosen up the tight muscles that are occurring when you muscle cramps up.
- Ice pack or ice in a ziploc baggie
- Create an ice pack by taking ice cubes and putting them into a plastic bag.
- Hold the ice pack to the area that is cramping up.
- Try to keep it there for 15 minutes at a time.
- Take away the ice pack and let the area rest for 15 minutes.
- Repeat this process until the pain goes away.
7. Hot Compress
Using a heating pad might be even more beneficial than using an ice pack. This is because it can help relax the muscle as it begins to spasm out. Heat also helps remove pain from inflammation of muscles and can loosen muscles to the perfect degree.
- Heating pad or homemade warm compress
- Create a heating compress pack by heating up a hand towel with water and putting it into a plastic bag.
- Hold the warm compress to the part of your body that is painful.
- Attempt to warm it for 15 minutes at a time.
- Take off the warm compress and let your body sit on its own for 15 minutes.
- Repeat this process until the cramp goes away.
8. Posture Corrector
Fix your posture when you are both sitting and standing. Your posture has a lot to do with the way your muscles react to certain movements. If you have poor posture, your legs may pay the price. Being slouched over can harm you when you sit and stand all the same. You may need to try different posture exercises in order to make your posture the best that it can be.
- Go see a chiropractor or a physical therapist if these leg cramps persist.
- Try to sit up straighter to ensure better posture.
- Perform posture driven yoga.
9. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is a great way to relax all of the muscles in the body. This can help with your spasms, both when they happen and as a preventative measure to keep them from happening. The heat can also relax the inflammation in your muscles. This is a nice way to supplement the other home remedies for leg cramps as well. You get other benefits from Epsom salt, too, such as drawing out a bunch of toxins from the body as you sit in the bath.
- Fill a bath with warm water.
- Pour in Epsom salt.
- Sit in the bath for at least 30 minutes.
- Do this two to three times per week.
10. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is soothing and cooling. It is an anti-inflammatory that can reduce the pain and swelling of your spasming muscle. At the same time, it offers a mentholated effect to keep your leg comfortable.
- Bottle of peppermint essential oil
- Pure vegetable oil or olive oil
- Mix the peppermint essential oil with the pure olive or veggie oil. The vegetable oil delivers the herbal oil into skin.
- Massage the essential oils onto the affected area.
- Do this with your hands or a cotton ball.
- The peppermint essential oil will take away the cramping.
11. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is aromatic and perfect for aromatherapy. It is effective especially when it is paired with massage therapy. This goes back to the consideration of seeing a masseuse, as it could really benefit your leg pains.
- Lavender oil
- Paper towel or hand towel
- Pour the lavender oil into a bowl.
- Use a cotton ball to dip into the bowl of lavender oil.
- Put the lavender oil directly onto the skin. Cove it generously and massage it.
- Be mindful not to get any of the lavender oil in your eyes.
12. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a potent anti-inflammatory. You can rub it on the leg directly as a way to stop the pain when it starts or drink it as a preventative measure.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Cotton ball
- Dip a cotton ball in vinegar.
- Dab the cotton ball onto the cramping area to transfer the vinegar.
- Massage it in using gloves.
13. Yellow Mustard
Mustard seed is another potent anti-inflammatory. It is best to crush it up and drink it as a tea.
- Rub a generous amount of mustard into your leg.
- Using gloved fingers, massage the mustard into your leg.
- Rinse it off after around 15 minutes.
14. Black Strap Molasses
Black strap molasses can help cramps in muscles that are dealing with deficiencies in potassium and calcium. It can also help strengthen muscles and prevent further leg cramps caused by the same thing. Relief is possible in a short while. If you are prone to waking up with a cramp, try taking the molasses before bedtime to help prevent the start of one.
- Take 1 tablespoon of blackstrap molasses before bed every night.
- Take 1 tablespoon during each leg cramp.
15. Clove Essential Oil
Clove is one of the most popular pain relievers. It has been used for centuries for a number of ailments, from tooth pain to foot pain. When you feel a leg cramp strike, reach for the clove oil.
- Bottle of clove essential oil
- Pure vegetable oil or olive oil
- Blend the clove essential oil with the pure vegetable oil. The vegetable oil will help carry the oil into the skin.
- Apply the essential oils onto the cramping area.
- Massage it in with your hands or a cotton ball.
- The clove essential oil will effectively stop the pain.
If leg cramps persist despite using home remedies, you may want to consider seeing a doctor. Although rare, serious medical conditions can lead to chronic cramping and need to be diagnosed by a physician.
Which of our home remedies for leg cramps are you anxious to try? How did the remedies work for you? We’d love for you to share your stories about using home remedies in the “Comments” section. You can even clue our readers into other remedies.