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Leg Cramps Are a Pain for Elderly!
Leg cramps are such a pain for our elderly parents – literally as well as figuratively. My senior mom has struggled with them for years.
How to Get Rid of Leg Cramps
I remember first experiencing leg cramps when I was pregnant. With each pregnancy, I would periodically get these horrendous pains in my legs – usually at night while sleeping. Thanks to Lamaze, I learned one way to prevent leg cramps! NEVER point your feet like a ballerina. ONLY point the toes up at your head. If I remembered and did it fast enough, it would sometimes prevent leg cramps from getting worse. And if I was tired and stretching and pointed my toes out like a ballerina, I would sometimes cause leg cramps to START! OUCH!
My Lamaze teacher also taught me another way of how to get rid of leg cramps – I learned to walk those leg cramps away. The further along in my pregnancy, the harder it was to get out of bed. But it was worth it. Getting up on my feet and walking really did make leg cramps go away!
Fast Forward 25 years!
Years later, my elderly mom started getting leg cramps frequently. We’re not sure what caused that. But we worked hard to try to learn how to get rid of leg cramps fast as well as ways prevent leg cramps at night – which is when she usually got them.
We tried vitamins to prevent leg cramps. We tried odd pills from drugs stores to prevent leg cramps. We tried various exercises to prevent leg cramps. We even resorted to one common tip – and put (cheap) bars of soap under mattresses to try to prevent or get rid of leg cramps at night.
What Did We Learn?
Leg Cramps are really strange ducks. NO ONE REALLY seems to know what causes them or what gets rid of them. One solution that gave us great hope is not really available any more – quinine water! Which is probably good since I hear tell it has a lot of side effects.
How Do WE Prevent Leg Cramps?
After a ton of experimenting, we found a few things that do seem to help. My top two are:
- Eat at least one banana a day
- Wear loose, plushy socks to bed
Foods That Prevent Leg Cramps
Bananas are thought to help prevent leg cramps at night or at any time because of the potassium in them. For that matter so do oranges, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes (and tomato paste), avocado, sweet potatoes, water melon, white beans, black beans, edamame, apricots and dried apricots and a few other fruits and veggies. Not to mention cranberry juice and V8 juice.
My elderly mom and I have both eaten these periodically through our diet. But we did find that eating a banana a day definitely seemed to keep most leg cramps away! Unfortunately, she got really tired of eating them and finally quit. Happily, she added quite a bit of potatoes, cranberry juice and cranberry capsules to her diet in the past year and so far feels those are also excellent foods that prevent leg cramps! At least, for her they do!
Clothes Prevent Leg Cramps Night?
Another thing I do to help prevent leg cramps at night is wear socks to bed. I didn’t used to. But once I started getting the leg cramps at night, I tried it and it really seems to help. I used to just wear the big white socks that were my husband’s that I also wear with tennis shoes. Recently, they have felt a bit too tight and I switched to the uber comfy, very soft and plushy minky socks I can usually find at Walmart, in stock or online, where I greatly appreciate that you get FREE 2-Day Shipping when you spend $35+ at Walmart.com!. I bought several pairs for myself and my mom and we’ve both been enjoying those thoroughly. (In case you want to look online, I would go to their Walmart.com – Homepage, and do a search for “100% polyester plush minky socks women.” That turned up some good choices the last time I looked. 🙂
The nights are still warm but not quite as warm and I found that this year, I’ve had to change from sleep shorts to long sleep pants for bed earlier in the season. It’s worth it though. Again, that seems to be doing a good job of preventing leg cramps at night for the most part. (In case you’re curious – my fave are the White Stag full elastic waist classic pants, also from Walmart. That search seems to vary a lot too. Again, head to the Walmart.com – Homepage, and search for either “White Stag full elastic womens pants” and see if that turns up any of their “Women’s Plus-Size Classic Pull-On Pants” by White Stag. Oddly enough, searching specifically for that does NOT turn them up. You gotta love the internet! 🙂
Do I Prevent Leg Cramps?
We still have leg cramps but not as often. When we do, they are usually at night. For the most part, though, they are rare. And on those nights when I do have leg cramps, I immediately get out of bed, walk them out, and then I may take 1-2 Acetaminophen and eat another banana to hopefully keep them away and help me relax back to sleep. (ALWAYS check with your doctor before taking any medication, of course!) Overall, it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad! And the same is true for my sweet mom. We are minor experimenters with soap but will stick with the sock – particularly the big plushy socks, along with long pants, and lots of potassium! That’s for sure. And I’m still convinced bananas are an extra help as well.
How about you? Got any tips or suggestions? We’d love to hear!
P.S. Again – these are just simple things my elderly mom and I do to help prevent leg cramps at night for ourself. This is not medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor for any medical issues and before taking any medication. 🙂