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Leg cramps at night any ideas?

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  • Leg cramps at night any ideas?

    I've occasionally gotten leg cramps at night for as long as I can remember, but lately it's been happening once every two or three nights. I'm tentatively blaming the fact that I've been doing more exercising-in-flats (the poor woman's Primal-ish shoes) and squats lately, so I'm hopeful that this is an adjustment phase that will pass.

    That being said, I've been wearing these shoes to exercise for a few weeks now, and I'm not doing that many squats (maybe a dozen, unweighted, over the course of a day). Meanwhile I'm regularly getting woken up in the middle of the night with leg pains that can be really surprisingly excruciating. It's weird, too, because sometimes the cramps are in my shins, sometimes in my calves, sometimes in my feet, and sometimes (the worst times) in multiple places at once.

    So far my attempts at fixes have been magnesium supplements (no effect that I've noticed over 2 weeks or so), drinking lots of water before bed (possibly helpful, but has the downside of making me wake up early needing to use the bathroom), and leg stretches before sleeping (haven't been able to tell effectiveness, but sometimes the wrong stretches can actually start spasms before I even get in bed).

    Has this happened to anyone else as a result of shoes/exercise? Is there anything else I can try to make it stop soon? Any advice would be appreciated.
    Last edited by Kaytoo; 04-23-2011, 03:43 PM.

  • #2
    I find magnesium and potassium are the key for me. I supplement both of them and no longer have leg cramps. Adding some potassium rich foods might be sufficient for you. I hate taking potassium, but my muscles just seem to need it.

    You could also try just drinking more water throughout the day instead of right before bed.
    Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )

    http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html

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    • #3
      My husband tends to get leg cramps and potassium and magnesium are also what works for him.
      Karin

      A joyful heart is good medicine

      He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jammies View Post
        I find magnesium and potassium are the key for me. I supplement both of them and no longer have leg cramps. Adding some potassium rich foods might be sufficient for you. I hate taking potassium, but my muscles just seem to need it.

        You could also try just drinking more water throughout the day instead of right before bed.
        Hmm, potassium, I hadn't thought of that. Is there any particular reason (other than the general inconvenience of pill-taking) why you say you hate taking it?

        I've always been a pretty big compulsive water-sipper, so I don't think I'm dehydrated. I do drink a lot of espresso with my water, but I've read that the caffeine --> dehydration association isn't really true (and I wouldn't give it up even if it were, let's be honest).

        Thanks for the advice.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Kaytoo View Post
          Hmm, potassium, I hadn't thought of that. Is there any particular reason (other than the general inconvenience of pill-taking) why you say you hate taking it?

          I've always been a pretty big compulsive water-sipper, so I don't think I'm dehydrated. I do drink a lot of espresso with my water, but I've read that the caffeine --> dehydration association isn't really true (and I wouldn't give it up even if it were, let's be honest).

          Thanks for the advice.
          I wouldn't mind taking a pill, but potassium chloride pills are only sold in tiny little doses so i would need to take a ton of them. I need a LOT of potassium, but I had a long standing muscle fatigue issue on top of the cramps . Smaller doses would probably work for cramping. So I use the salt crystals which I dissolve in water and drink every night - it is gag-inducing salty!! But it's worth it for me.

          ETA- Yes, I have heard that the caffeine/diuretic study didn't include a control group - so not very reliable data!
          Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )

          http://www.krispin.com/lectin.html

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          • #6
            This is gonna sound dumb but when I was pregnant and had bad leg cramps the nurse said to put a bar of soap at the foot of my bed. It worked. No idea why.

            I second the lack of potassium.
            See what I'm up to: The Primal Gardener

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            • #7
              I find when I have more than a couple of handfuls of nuts (macadamias and almonds) I get the calf cramps around 5 or 6 am. If I skip the nuts, no cramps. Weird.

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              • #8
                Potassium is what will fix the cramps. I take 2 99mg potassium citrate caplets every night; no leg cramps since I started.
                Primal eating in a nutshell: If you are hungry, eat Primal food until you are satisfied (not stuffed). Then stop. Wait until you're hungry again. Repeat.

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                • #9
                  Muscles cramps can be a result of any of your 'salts' being out of whack. Normally the culprit is potassium, but it could also be calcium, magnesium or even sodium. If you are new to this and have lost a lot of weight in a short time, you have also lost a lot of the 'electrolytes' with the water weight. Taking a few supplements should do the trick. That or eating foods high in the 'iums'.

                  I think the nuts make perfect sense, they are both high in magnesium. So eating them gets the 'iums' out of proportion, high magnesium low on the others. That throws the muscles out of synch.
                  Meghan

                  My MDA journal

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jammies View Post
                    I wouldn't mind taking a pill, but potassium chloride pills are only sold in tiny little doses...
                    KCl is also sold as salt substitute or "no salt."

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                    • #11
                      Thanks for all the input, everyone! This has been really helpful.

                      I doubt I'm getting too much magnesium, as I don't really eat a ton of nuts, but I know I eat more sodium than can possibly be good for me. (I might have just eaten a shake of salt directly from the sea salt shaker on my desk before opening this thread. Whoops.)

                      I'll definitely try the potassium supplements, though--sounds like that's worked for a lot of people. Incidentally, I checked out a list of foods high in potassium and noticed that potatoes were way up there (over 1000 mg per tater, compared to, say, ~500mg in 6 oz. of meat), so it's possible that my diet has inadvertently gotten slightly lower in potassium from trade-offs like that. Luckily I just ate a ton of spinach, which is also very potassium-rich, so hopefully I'll be good tonight. It's high in magnesium too, though, so maybe I'll skip that magnesium pill tonight... Looks like it's time for some experimentin'.

                      Also, I'm really hoping that the dose of potassium that comes in pills works for me--I got a shaker of KCl salt substitute as a sort-of-joke gift from a friend once (as a result of my aforementioned problem with salt-eating) and I swear it tasted like poison, and not at all like salt. Jammies, I don't know how you do it!

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                      • #12
                        If you do get that much sodium, then potassium is probably what you need. Google 'sodium-potassium pump'
                        Meghan

                        My MDA journal

                        Primal Ponderings- my blog- finally added some food pron :P

                        And best of all my Body Fat Makeover!!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by NutMeg View Post
                          If you do get that much sodium, then potassium is probably what you need. Google 'sodium-potassium pump'
                          Oh man, I totally remember this from high school bio! It never occurred to me that all those molecule-balance things might, you know, actually apply to my body. Thanks for the tip! I guess this is good motivation to start cutting back on the salt a little in addition to upping the other -iums...

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                          • #14
                            Funny, I wanted to start the same thread last night but I got distracted!

                            Originally posted by Kaytoo View Post
                            really surprisingly excruciating
                            Oh, maaan, they hurt like hell! I got one (again) the other night. I always assumed they are a lack of some salt - never sure which as they come and go so I cannot pin it to anything - and sometimes also associate them with exercise (or drinking wine! but don't tell anybody I'm doing that from time to time ).

                            Normally I get one every half a year or so, with periods when I get them every 2-3 nights for half a month. Hate it. And while most of the time they hurt on the spot for 10-15 mins and then the pain is gone, other times the muscle contracts so bad that it hurts for a few days!

                            I do sometimes supliment Mg so it might be a lack of potasium, maybe I should eat more bananas and potatoes.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Idioteque View Post
                              other times the muscle contracts so bad that it hurts for a few days!
                              I'm just getting over one of those now, which is one of the reasons I was motivated to post this!

                              I bought some potassium supplements and started taking them last night, so I'll report back on how it goes.

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