The spasm of the foot and the leg can very often disrupt sleep, as it can cause a sudden sensation of momentary pain; these reactions which are uncontrollable are called cramps. These spasmodic contractions can come about by way of the repeated utilization of a single group of muscles and can also come about because of sitting or lying down in awkward and uncomfortable positions leading to the restriction of the circulation of blood or in cases where nerves underneath the skin are depressed for a long time. A few seconds to a minute is the utmost duration of the majority of cramps, though some may extend to a few minutes in certain cases. In the elderly and in women who are pregnant, the type of cramp that is very commonly seen seems to be cramps of the leg. The lower back and the abdominal region are severely affected as a result of menstrual cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, these can cause a lot of pain and discomfort in the areas they affect.
Strenuous and vigorous physical exercise, the limbs being exposed to cold and poor circulation are all responsible for cramps, which is merely the uncontrolled contraction of muscle fibers, poor circulation is the main impetus however. A lot of acids in the general body tissue can also be the primary reason behind the occurrence of cramps. Especially metabolic reactions like the build up of lactic acid, after exercise can trigger cramps, this is usually because of not warming the body up beforehand by stretching and gentle movements of the body, lactic acid build up is also triggered most often by muscle overuse, bringing the potential occurrence of a cramp closer. An over strained and inhibited nervous system may also be the underlying cause of the cramp, if twitching accompanies cramping. The repeated use of the same muscles in the hands causes what is known as writer's cramp. Mineral deficiency is the usual reason for leg cramps that occur at night, especially minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are essential for the proper contraction and articulation of the musculature in the body, these leg cramps that occur in the night can also be due to as insufficient oxygen supply from poor circulation and blood flow in the persons experiencing them. Certain substances can leach out vital and essential elements away from the body, alcohol and coffee, have been implicated in their action of depleting the reserves of magnesium in the body. The abundance of acid substance in many varieties of foodstuffs is also a problem, as they are major contributory factors, these acidic food items include white vinegar, which abounds in foods such as pickles and other preserved goods, mayonnaise, things like mustard and all kinds of salad dressings. Thought it must be mentioned that natural wine vinegars and vinegars like apple cider vinegar are not a source of worry, nor are they contributory factors to the occurrence of cramps.
The loss of water and fluids that result from exposure to heat and during vigorous exercise are likely to bring on the incidence of cramps, as it is during such processes that a great deal of water and minerals are lost from the body. The replenishment of water and salts in the body is essential to prevent total collapse in the individual, especially where the muscle cramps are related to dehydration from heat, or from strenuous exercise, as these can drain away the essential salts and water from the body. There may also be serious underlying disease such as arteriosclerosis or thrombosis in the veins especially if there is a lot of cramping in the legs and if there is any heaviness in the legs even after a minimal amount of exertion, during such activities such as a short walk or jaunt.
In case where the cramping occurs when the woman is not in her menstrual cycle, the incidence of cramping could have other causes, as menstrual cramping comes about when the uterus contracts due to the onset of the menstrual period, therefore if the cramping happens when the person is not in her cycle, conditions such as a pelvic inflammatory disease or similar disorders, could be the possible cause.
Supplements and herbs
No matter their duration or mode of occurrence, the majority of cramps can be minimized in their actions and rate of incidence through the use of calcium and magnesium as mineral supplements along with a healthy diet. Muscular contraction and nervous coordination and conductance depend on this two minerals within the body, there presence or absence in sufficient quantities therefore is an important factor when dealing with cramps.
The absorption of these minerals into the body is aided but the compound called betaine HCI it aids digestive function by way of acidifying these minerals, therefore there uptake into the body is made easier. Calcium assimilation into the body is aided and improved when using the mineral silica as a supplement. Nervous system function, which is an important component in the rise of cramps, is aided by pantothenic acid, and this should be included in the diet as well. An imbalance in the B vitamin complex can be aided by including a B complex, supplement in tablet form imbalances. Tocopherol or the vitamin E is an essential supplement in cases where the cramps arise due to improper circulatory function or a dysfunctioning circulatory system. The action of an improved circulation and the increase in oxygen supply that happens due to the opening of the blood vessels, is an action that vitamin E can perform. Vitamin E as a supplement is particularly helpful to the elderly who are experiencing some form of nightly leg cramps and restlessness. Whenever a poor circulation is suspected, to boost the oxygen supply in such cases, use can be made of the coenzyme Q10.
For the topical and immediate relief from the pain of muscular cramps, use can be made of many types of herbal juices, tinctures and baths, used in compresses these soothe the area and increase the decrease the discomfort felt.
A single tbsp of yarrow juice can be taken daily to protect against all kinds of cramps and spasms of the muscles. The dilation and relaxation of the muscles is the main action of this herb. In combination with the juices of another herb, called silverweed, yarrow can be particularly effective in treating spasms. To relax and soothe down smooth muscles in the body that have cramped, use about 5-10 drops of wild yam tincture, mixed with water or some other liquid. It is important to have a good reserve of iron in the blood, make sure that some iron is consumed every week. A combination of 2 tbsp. of stinging nettle juice or alternately some spinach juice, with 4 tbsp. of red beet juice and 2 tbsp. yarrow juice can be mixed in a cocktail with grape juice; this improves the oxygen uptake capability of the blood. To relax tensed up muscles and to dilate the capillaries under the skin, massage some St. John's wort oil into the affected region of the muscles as topical relief. Topical applications on the affected area can also include hot herbal compresses or poultices, made from St. John's wort leaves and blossoms, the herb yarrow, the leaves of the comfrey or horsetail grass, these can all be used as a soothing local lotion or rub. Tensed up and constricted muscles can also be relaxed by bathing in water using a warm rosemary solution as an additive. Rosemary oil can be added to the bathwater in quantities of about 5 drops to an ordinary bath. Massaging and rubbing the area with lotions made from arnica or the oil of eucalyptus, can greatly aid in recovery and healing. These lotions particularly the arnica lotion must not be allowed to be rubbed on areas that have cuts or wounds or some form of bruising.
All the homeopathic remedies that have been suggested for use below, can be used either according to the severity or seriousness of the cramps or in strengths of dosage of 6, 12 or 30, the frequency of use can vary, from once every half an hour, to a few times during the course of the day, as the need is felt or the cramps return. Repeated dosages of 200C have given good results, especially where the cramps were severe and extremely painful.
Additional things you may do
The feet must be put up and moved occasionally especially when the cramps are in the region of the calves. During intense and painful cramps the application of hot compresses, which are dipped in a solution of 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar and 1 cup hot water, greatly relaxes and soothes the affected region. Tensed and constricted muscles in the body that come on due top the cramps are greatly helped by taking warm baths. To the bath water that is used for this purpose of alleviating pain, add 2 or more cups of apple cider vinegar. It is in your interest to avoid wearing tight and constricting clothing and tight shoes, as these may have the potential of cutting off and restricting circulation in the body and may lead to the increase in the risk of cramps and spasms occurring. It is a good practice to do some stretching before and after a stint of hard exercise as this warms up the body and minimizes injury and the chance of cramps. Cramps that occur at nighttime can be alleviated by taking part in cold-water stepping.
Other beneficial herbs