For weeks now, my legs had been threatening to seize. In bed, trying desperately for a restful night’s sleep. When the tight sensation in my legs would start, I would quickly extend my legs, press my heels down and thrust my toes upward until the sensation dissipated. It was working great. I thought I was in the clear. Until this week.
And Holy Forking Shirt. It hurt like Heck!
My left calf was arrested in the strongest cramp I had ever experienced. I could not move or breathe!
Once the feeling eventually subsided, I gingerly got up out of bed and waddled to the bathroom to spray a liberal dose of magnesium oil onto my legs and feet.
The relief was almost instant. Or was it a placebo effect? Perhaps both. Either way, the cramp was gone, for now.
Many of my clients would complain of tight sore legs and feet, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. And it appears no one in immune.
Why are leg cramps so common during pregnancy and what can be done about it?
It is thought that legs cramps can occur due to fatigue, too much or too little activity, dehydration, magnesium deficiency and pressure from the uterus impacting blood flow to the lower half of the body.
While debilitating, leg cramps can easily be managed at home. Below I share some at-home remedies that can help ease the discomfort of leg cramps
- Stay Hydrated
Tight sore muscles are dehydrated muscles. If dehydration is the issue, then increasing water intake may be one easy way to ease cramps. One way to see if you are drinking enough water is to check the colour of your urine. Dark yellow suggested dehydration, while a light-yellow means that you are adequately hydrated. And if you on a lot of B vitamin, your urine may be bright fluro yellow. If you have concerns, please consult your prenatal care provider.
- Stretch it Out
Stretching can also ease a cramp as its occurring and potentially prevent them from cramping. An amazingly simple stretch that you can do in bed is to extend your leg, press your heel down as you pull your toes towards your face. Be careful not to pint your toes that this will contract the area that is cramping and make the cramp worse.
- Supplement with Magnesium
Magnesium can be beneficial in reducing leg cramps. Taken either orally as a tablet or powered supplement, applied topically as an oil or gel or soaking in a warm foot spa or bath, magnesium could relieve pain from cramping and potentially prevent cramps from occurring. While the research on using magnesium in this was is limited, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can help. Be sure to check with your prenatal care provider to see if magnesium is right for you.
- Gentle Exercise
If lack of exercise is the issue, then gentle exercise may help to prevent and ease cramping. Short, gentle, and slow walks or pregnancy friendly yoga postures can not only help to keep you fit and healthy during pregnancy but can increase blood flow, gently working and strengthening muscles in the lower body. Be sure to check with your prenatal care provider before starting any exercise during pregnancy.
- Pleasure over Pain
Have you ever stubbed your toe on something? It hurts like heck, right? And what is the first thing you do, after screaming out a few expletives? You will rub the area that has been injured. When we rub our stubbed toe, our brain floods with endorphins, the body’s “happy feel good chemical”. This type of self-soothing massage can easily be applied to calf cramps. Massage to the calves before bed may help to prevent cramps from occurring. Massage can even be applied during a cramp to ease it. Just ensure that you use pressure that is appropriate to your own needs, and do not cause further pain or discomfort.
Just because a symptom is common in pregnancy, does not mean you need to put up with it. These easy home-remedies may be the thing between you and a pain-free, restful sleep during pregnancy.
For more info on ways to manage pregnancy aches and pain, check out the blog archive.