When people talk about getting cramp, they usually mean in their legs. In fact, although these painful, spasmodic contractions can attack muscles anywhere, it is usually the muscles at the back of the legs which are involved. Poor, overstretched or interrupted circulation is usually the cause, and, rarely, excessive sweating, which produces salt depletion, can also cause cramps.
Older people often get cramps at night and to prevent these they may be tempted to buy one or other of the proprietary preparations which are available.
Crampex Tablets contain guaiphenesin, nicotinic acid, calcium gluconate and calciferol. Limb-Rase Tablets contain a modest dose of a vasodilator designed to increase the flow of blood to the muscles. These products may help.
Old wives’ remedies include putting a cork under the pillow, putting brimstone under your mattress or carrying a mole’s foot in your pocket. For cramp in the legs a mole’s hindfoot is said to be most efficacious. No research seems to have been done on this point.
There is a useful exercise which can be tried if you suffer badly from night cramps in your legs.
Three times a day stand facing a wall two or three feet away from you. (You need to be barefoot for this exercise by the way.) Lean forward keeping your heels on the floor and touch the wall with your hands. You’ll feel your calf muscles tightening as you do this. Hold the position for ten seconds, rest, and then do it again. If you do this three times a day for a week and then repeat it occasionally once a day or after heavy exercise you may find that the night cramps no longer bother you.