Most of us have been jolted out of a sound sleep with a severe cramp in the foot or leg (typically the calf), and then groggily try to figure out what and how to stretch. The real key is how long to stretch; stop too soon and the cramp returns with vengeance. I recommend you grasp the foot by the toes and pull toward you. This will stretch the affected muscle, as well as other muscles of the calf and foot. Hold for a minimum of one minute, which will feel like an eternity in the wee hours of the night. Slowly (and I mean slowly), release the stretch to feel if the cramp is returning. If so, more stretching must be done. After the spasm releases, massage the muscle by stroking away from the heart. Wet heat can be used for further relaxation.
If the cramp occurs with severity and the stretch is not helping here is a method well worth a try. Get the spiciest mustard you can find and put a heaping teaspoon of it in your mouth. Let it linger for a moment and then swallow. This is an old remedy that does work for the crisis. Taking mustard on a regular basis does not prevent cramps , taking mustard can and often does terminate the cramp at the time.
Cramps can occur because of one or a combination of the following factors: fatigue, overuse, dehydration and nutrient deprivation. Fortunately, if you follow a few simple steps, you can minimize your chance of cramping. More rest and a lighter workout from time to time may be the easiest prescription. Include a mineral complex to cover all possibilities of mineral depletion, or just increase your calcium intake with a calcium/magnesium supplement that may include malic acid as well. (not a calcium supplement for osteoporosis).
Proper hydration will ensure proper function, and the importance of water cannot be stressed enough. For a recurring spasm, follow the suggestions above, plus drink water on a regular basis even if not a physically active day. Drink small amounts often to ensure hydration. If cramping persists for more than 24 hours, call your doctor. Also, if you’re on any medication or have a medical condition, check with your doctor before using any nutritional supplements.