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Are Leg Cramps "Cramping" Your Style?

Leg cramps are fairly common, especially during pregnancy. For many, leg cramps strike at night, during sleep; however, cramps may also occur during or after exercise, and even with gentle everyday activities, like walking.

Painful leg cramps can affect even healthy, active pregnant women for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Extra fluids in the body and additional weight gained during pregnancy
  • Mineral deficiencies or imbalances (potassium and calcium)
  • Muscle fatigue from too much exercise or other overuse
  • Failure to stretch adequately before or after exercising
  • Dehydration
  • Certain medications
  • Heat exposure
  • A thyroid condition

To relieve the pain during a cramp, stretch your leg and flex the foot, pointing or pulling the toes upward. Try massaging the area and applying heat or a cold pack to help relax the cramping muscle.

To prevent a cramp, make sure to stretch before and after exercising and allow plenty of time for warming up and cooling down. Be sure to eat a healthy and balanced diet that is rich in potassium and calcium - two minerals that are most frequently deficient when leg cramping occurs. You may want to take calcium or vitamin E supplements to ensure that you're getting enough in your diet.

Other prevention techniques that may help include:

  • Drinking at least six to eight glasses of water each day, especially before, during and after exercise.

  • Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees to keep nerves from being pinched.

  • Stretching your legs for a few minutes before going to bed.

 

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