You wake in the middle of the night thanks to a cramp in your calf muscles that’s causing considerable pain. Or, perhaps your legs cramp during the day while you’re sitting down.
Muscle cramps anywhere in your body are perfectly normal from time to time, but regular leg cramps may signal an underlying issue. To help you determine what may be behind your leg cramps, Dr. Farhad Aduli and the team here at Louisiana Heart and Vascular take a closer look at the issue and whether your diet may play a role.
A cramp occurs when your muscles seize or spasm, causing an extreme tightness that can be uncomfortable and even painful. In most cases, the cramp doesn’t last long, especially if you do things to release the spasm, such as gently stretch the muscle.
Cramps tend to occur in the legs and often at night. In fact, 60% of adults get leg cramps at night, as well as 40% of children and teenagers. The incidence of leg cramping tends to increase with age as tendons naturally shrink and shorten, which puts added tension on your muscles.
As well, 40% of pregnant women experience leg cramps at night due to the extra weight.
Outside of age and conditions like pregnancy, leg cramps can develop for other reasons, including:
Certain structural issues in your feet may also lead to leg cramps, such as flat feet or high arches.
Getting to the influence your diet may have on whether you develop leg cramps, one of the more common causes of muscle cramps is dehydration.
Outside of insufficient hydration, there is some evidence that deficiencies in certain substances, such as magnesium, potassium, vitamin D, and certain B vitamins, can lead to a higher risk for leg cramps.
If you’re struggling with leg cramps, you may want to add certain foods to your diet that act as electrolytes, which can help with muscle contractions. The following foods not only act as electrolytes, they’re also good sources of the nutrients and vitamins we outlined in the previous paragraph:
A great way to combine foods that contain potentially cramp-fighting nutrients is with a smoothie. Simply mix some greek yogurt with some of your favorite berries and throw in some healthy greens, such as spinach or kale.
It’s important to note that while diet can play a role in ongoing muscle cramping, it’s often only a contributing factor. There’s often an overarching cause behind it. So if you’re struggling with ongoing leg cramps, it’s important that you come see us for an evaluation, so we can check for cardiovascular issues that may be causing the problem.
To get to the bottom of your leg cramps, book an appointment online or over the phone with Louisiana Heart and Vascular today. We’re located in Covington and Franklinton, Louisiana, and we also serve patients from Mandeville, Hammond, and Slidell.