Leg cramps were just about the worst
thing about my three pregnancies. A lot of women get them randomly during the day, or are woken up at night by them. This is also an under assisted problem from OBs in my experience. When I first developed them, I was told repeatedly that they didn't know what to do, and that I should just wait it out.
So, after 27 months of pregnancy (LoL) here are the best ways I've found to get them to go away fast. It's a lot of stuff, but each little thing contributes to making it go away that much faster.
If you feel your toes go 'fuzzy' (not numb, but pins and needles), that can signal a leg cramp.
If you feel your calf start to tense or jitter, that can signal a leg cramp.
Sometimes, there are no signals at all, and your leg is suddenly a rock hard ball of pain.
Step 1 : Walk!
It is just about the most painful thing you can do, but you have to do it. Don't have anyone do any of the listed steps for you; walk yourself on over to do them yourself (unless stairs are involved, walking on those will only make your cramp worse).
Step 2 : Icy Hot!
Or any type of menthol patch, cream or stick. Rub the cream or stick over your entire calf. You can purchase off brand patches that are the perfect size for calves at most major retailers, so they are my preferred method. Slap one of those on and it will last for about 2 to 3 hours.
Step 3 : Banana!
Studies have found that potassium helps release contracted muscles. Grab a banana and chow down.
Step 4 : Dairy!
There are also some indications that calcium aids in relaxing muscles. I always drank a glass or two of milk with my banana. Yogurt or cheese (maybe even ice cream
) should also help.
Step 5 : Water!
This is preventative and well as counteractive. Staying well hydrated will prevent your muscles from contracting. Hydrating yourself after a cramp will force the muscle open.
Step 6 : Flex!
Exaggerate the walking motion by rolling farther into the step. Do not
point your toes straight out under any circumstances, as this will contract the muscle more. Do not
roll into the step farther than the ball of your foot; if you're on your toes, you're doing more harm than good.
Step 7 : Rub!
Gently massage the top of the calf, where the cramp generally resides. It should feel soothing, with just the barest amount of pressure. If you feel any discomfort doing this, stop.
Doing all of these tends to clear up my leg cramps in about 15-20 minutes with little remaining tenderness, rather than the 2-3 hours of full on pain and day's worth of tenderness I would experience otherwise.
Things to avoid Too much potassium
Studies have also shown that taking in too much potassium can lead to muscle cramps. It's also bad for your kidneys. If you suffer from leg cramps, don't start popping extra potassium pills, just stick to the natural amounts found in fruits, which is much easily used and discarded by your body. Dairy on pregnancy stomachs
Some women develop a severe aversion to dairy while pregnant. Don't do the dairy thing if this is you. It's much better to wait out an hours long leg cramp than to have an upset stomach for days. Flexing afterwards
When sitting, keep the leg straight or at a 90 degree angle for the next few hours. Sitting on it or crossing your legs could make it worse. Bumping the muscle
Be extra careful to not bump the muscle against anything (even a chair) for the next few hours. It could shock it back into a cramp.
Hope that helps some of you out!