Don’t Let Nocturnal Leg Cramps Ruin Your Sleep!

March 11, 2014

Soak Before You Sleep: Hot tub stretching exercises can mean fewer, less severe nocturnal leg cramps.

Nocturnal leg cramps can lead to a rude awakening: You’re suddenly sleepless and in pain in the middle of the night. Symptoms of nocturnal leg cramps include excruciating contractions of the calf muscles, and sometimes of the foot muscles as well.

Nocturnal leg cramps are true cramps and not spasms. The muscle remains in a cramped and contracted position, which accounts for the intensity of the pain. If you touch the affected calf, you may be surprised to discover that your muscles feel very hard, almost like concrete, a measure of the power of the cramp. So say Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D., A.B.S.M. and Patricia B. Smith from Sleep Disorders For Dummies

That painful charley horse in the calf that can wake you up from a sound sleep, is more than a nuisance. A comparative study last year in Australia, published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, showed that people with leg cramps have lower health-related quality of life because they lose quality sleep. Half of the population older than 60 suffer such cramps, as well as many younger people, especially pregnant women.

 A 2012 study in Australia, also published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, demonstrated that stretching exercises before bed can significantly decrease the number and severity of nocturnal leg cramps. Forty older adults with leg cramps performed calf and hamstring stretches at bedtime while another 40 did not add the exercise. The ones who stretched had an average of 1.2 fewer cramps per night, and the cramps were significantly less severe.

A soak in your Hot Spring Spa multiplies the benefits of stretching. You’re more flexible because the warm water eases muscle tension, so the exercise is more effective. To enhance the hamstring stretch, try a Thera-Band to get a good hamstring stretch in the tub. Lift your leg out of the tub, point your toes, then flex them slowly back toward your calf. For an extra good stretch, grab your toes while still in this position and pull them down toward your knees. You’ll feel this stretch working in the back of the calf muscles.

A nice warm bedtime soak can make anybody sleep better. Now we have the research evidence that it can even improve the quality of life for people who have nocturnal leg cramps.  Soak before bed in your Hot Spring Spa and say good-bye to those dreaded charley horse pains in the middle of the night.

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SANUM PER AQUA. As the Romans said through water.



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