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Painful Leg Cramps

What works for you?

Immediately, I deeply stretch the muscle until it relaxes. It's still painful afterwards.

Yesterday on a steep hike, I got calf muscle and ankle cramps as I reached the summit. Although I drink lots of water, I get leg cramps, especially at night.


  1. Heavy sweating depletes salt.
  2. Starting fast before muscles warm up.
  3. Repetitive motion (hiking uphill for hours).
  4. Leg cramps increase with age.

That's why I carry Emergen-C powder packets. Mixed with water, Emergen-C relieves cramps immediately. But Emergen-C does not work for everyone.

Today I bought a Potassium supplement.

Thanks for your advice, everybody!


LiterateHiker 9 Apr 10

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Thanks for the link. I rarely suffer leg cramps whilst hiking but am frequently woken in the night with cramp in one calf. More often right than left.
I try to limit my intake of salt due to hypertension and don't drink much in the evenings to avoid having to get up in the night for a pee so that could be one reason.
Worse than that is cramp in the thigh muscle. A few times after an all day strenuous trek I have had cramp whilst driving home. Trying to find a spot to park and hop around and stretch to ease it can be a problem whilst other drivers look at me as if I have gone crazy.


potassium is supposed to be good (bananas and potatoes are better than supplements) but frankly it never helped me. nothing ever prevented the cramps, and i guzzle water like a madwoman, eat plenty of taters and do lots of stretching (and exercise strenuously in the pool whenever possible). but i do know what stops the cramps when they come: flex, don't stretch, your foot. i know it's counterintuitive, but it works. point your toe UP toward your head, not down like a ballerina on point.



I found doing heel raises gets rid of foot cramps. With bare feet, lift up your heels, then down. Up. Down. Keep going until the cramps subside.

@LiterateHiker my foot cramps go away fast on their own. not so much the leg cramps. lately i also get thigh cramps, and i HATE those! i think they come from the bone spurs in my hips (mine, unlike trump's, are real).



Love your joke about Trump's imaginary bone spurs!

For thigh cramps, stand on one foot, and pull your other foot up to your butt. Hold onto something to keep your balance!


@LiterateHiker lol i can't take your advice and i'll tell you why: the only time i get thigh cramps is when i am attempting to roll over in bed, and they're so painful i can't move until they subside. therefore i can't stand up and do what you said unless i already no longer have the thigh cramps!



You can stretch lying down, too.

@LiterateHiker i literally cannot move when this happens. i am paralyzed until the pain passes. i could stretch afterwards, or habitually (i do the latter) but during? no, it's THAT bad. it is paralyzing.



I'm so sorry that happens. Please see a doctor.

@LiterateHiker i have. no joy. we have bigger barracudas to fry lol



My late partner had leg cramps for years and no doctor could figure it out. She was taking Fosamx for osteoporosis and got tired of the side effects. The leg cramps disappeared.

When I work out I do stretches for the particular muscle I am using. Optimum time is 30 seconds. My hand/shoulder therapist told me the absolute best time is 30, 30 and 30 (3o seconds stretch, 30 seconds relax and another 30 seconds stretch. Funny, I seem to be the only one in our gym that stretches.


You're right. Most men don't stretch, and complain about cramps and tight muscles. Stupid.

@LiterateHiker We have lots of women at the gym and they too don't stretch. Except for one who spends a long time beforehand doing a lot of yoga stretches on her floor mat. She is our age but puts even me to shame.


I have a stretching routine that I go through slowly every morning after I get up, and every evening before I go to bed. I also go through a similar routine prior to starting my classes at the gym.

This has helped with the problems I was having with my hip flexors, and it has prevented the shin splints I was having on a regular basis.


Good for you! I love stretching, too.


Emergen-C sounds like an healthier way to do it. Skip the salt for sure.


Good advice. I started salting food lightly a year ago.


Calcium and Potassium are what makes muscles contract and allow them to flex lack of them can be a possible reason.


Just bought a Potassium supplement.

Will take it at night, as it causes nausea.

@LiterateHiker Chamomile tea can help with this. I have heard cinnamon works as will I have not experimented with cinnamon as of yet.


Unfortunately, I hate the taste of camomile tea.


Yeah - I get this a bit in the hills. I stop, massage the muscle, reflect on how I’m not as young as I used to be, admire the view, look to see if there are any trout rising nearby and then carry on.

I didn’t know there was medication for this!


I just moved to Catalina for work, I am hiking up and down stairs all day, about 6 miles total. I think that I will grab some emegern-c and see if that helps.

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