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what could be the cause of occasional in the night or morning foot/calf cramps?

 
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This doesn't happen every night...just occasionally and does seem to be related to food rather than exercise.

I can almost predict that I will have a calf or foot cramp that gets me out of bed in the middle of the night if I eat raisins or a banana last thing, usually before 2pm the day before. I can eat them earlier in the day followed by other food with no problem.

I haven't been eating any sugars (other than fruit) or wheat for two months straight now and neither seemed to do this in the past (although the raisins and bananas seem to have for quite awhile.

I thought for a long time that my magnesium supplement had stopped them but apparently not?

When I look for causes on line low potassium is mentioned but isn't that what bananas are high in?

Somehow I think it's to do with the fruit sugars?  Apples are fine but not bananas or raisins?

...but then sometimes it happens for no obvious reason.

I thought it might be lack of salt.  I just don't use it other than the grey salt in my ferments or maybe I just don't drink enough water on the day previous to getting cramps?

I do intermittent fasting, eating from 5 or 6am-2pm and as I mentioned, no wheat or sugars (other than some fruit).

We try to hike two or three times a week, 3-5 miles each hike and some decent elevations both up and down...I haven't been able to relate it to that exercise.

Any ideas? suggestions?
 
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I had calf cramps when I was young. If a person drinks about a gallon of water they are well hydrated. I would be looking at the shoes and socks for issues. Try changing the shoes for a few days and see if that helps. Also when I had calf cramps my folks used castor oil on the skin over the cramps. It helped along with long socks and keeping the area warm.  
 
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Hi Judith;
I can't tell you why you are getting the cramps.  
I can say that I get them from time to time. Usually in the summer, when I am working long hours.  
After experimentation, for me  a spoon of mustard makes it stop.  Salt works sometimes .
 
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For me, foot/calf cramps at night are associated with dehydration and/or not enough electrolytes in my diet. I make an electrolyte mix that is sea salt, potassium chloride, and Epsom salts. I use it for cooking, and add it to drinking water.

 
Judith Browning
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thanks all!

great suggestions and in the end reminded me that I stopped my apple cider vinegar drink a while back, so have picked it up again.
I think my shoes and socks are good...flat flexible soles and I go barefoot around home most of the time.
I am trying to do more stretching before a hike and before bedtime also.

The mustard and electrolyte suggestions made me think of the vinegar...so far no cramps.
 
pollinator
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I have a weird experience with nightly cramps in my right calf and foot. I also have problems falling and staying asleep as long as I remember...

I've had problems with those cramps some years ago and about a year ago they came back. Frequently. Sometimes every night and it was always super painful and very difficult to relax the muscle.

Then it occured to me that those cramps are basically just a muscle tightening to the extreme without the muscle relaxing again. I thought that must mean that there is a continuous signal from my brain to that muscle to keep it tight. Was that an unconscious action of my brain? Was I self sabotaging my sleep?

I remember thinking that it would be extremely silly and tragic if I was indeed causing myself such intense pain and at the same time waking myself up. And that was the last time it happened.

Now maybe it was a pure coincidence... But that flash in my thoughts when I "realized" that you need to give an electronic signal to a muscle to make it contract seemed to create an awareness that I could then use to prevent it from happening again.
 
pollinator
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I gave my children chewable calcium tablets when they woke with leg cramps.  Not sure if it was effective or just a way to distract them.

An old hillbilly lady here swears by pickle juice.  She has a bottle of it to hand always.

I went to hospital one night with chest pain that couldn't be relieved, and I'm pretty sure it was just a cramp in the pectoral muscle.  Stupid ER physician tried to tell me it was pleurisy.
 
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Learning a little about types of muscle cramps, ATP, and the Krebs/citric acid cycle will most likely lead to figuring out which muscle cramps/spasms are being experienced, then to discovering a solution.

I discovered slightly unbalanced electrolytes and insufficient water had been the culprit for muscle cramps since high school through age 40ish.  I was born with sodium and chloride imbalances that became a combined lifelong adversary until I made a concentrated effort to keep electrolytes happy  ^.^  I learned the hard way that electrolytes always win over stupendous amounts of my stubborness :=)  

How stubborn was I?  I used to run cross country in high school and practiced bodybuilding in early 20s.  Muscle cramps were ever present.  Muscle repair/recovery was slow, though I hadn't realized it then.  In high school I fell out at the finish line, face planting on a clay track, after having ignored a coach's advice to sip some slightly salty lemonade before starting.  Who wants warm lemonade?  Salted?  And there, need over want snickered at me again.   I made up all manner of justifications until I was about 40 and eventually got thoroughly disgusted with being unable to do what I considered to be ordinary activities without intermitten muscle cramps in sides, feet, calves, thighs, or lower back.  I also discovered too much or too little of a nutrient could result in similar un-fun physical experiences.  And that no nutrient works alone.  Everything within us is so connected that a single nutrient or activity is seldom (if ever?) a sole cause or solution.  (An aside, a prolapsed mitral valve condition resolved when electrolytes were balanced.)

I found this page, where about halfway down ATP is discussed specific to muscle cramps.  

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK376/

If asked, I would suggest reading at least several sources of information about the Krebs / citric acid cycle.  There is so much funding-related bias, that reading about something so vital begs delving.  Note the difference between citric acid and ascorbic acid:  https://www.fooducate.com/community/post/What-s-the-difference-between-Citric-Acid-Ascorbic-Acid-and-Vitamin-C%3F/55F1712B-81E3-CCE7-462B-AB4E18ED0BE3

Also because ascorbic acid/vitamin C is mentioned here, note there is a half life of about 30 minutes with fresh/whole food/fruit/veggie sources of ascorbic acid/vitamin C.  So best to consume a whole fruit or vegetable completely within minutes rather than spend an hour sipping or nibbling.  Alka Seltzer is a good example and can be used to prove the half life.  When there is reason to use an Alka Seltzer tablet, mix a tablet in water and let it sit a couple hours.  Drink it and wait about 30 minutes.  After noticing the lack of efficacy, try a fresh tablet in water and drink immediately and the effects are usually felt fairly quickly.  I use Alka Seltzer as an example because the active ingredients are bisodium carbonate (baking soda) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).  Or you can prove the half life by mixing straight ascorbic acid crystals 2:1 with baking soda, then continue experimenting as with the Alka Seltzer example.  Saturation might be felt in either experiment, but not the benefits that feed adrenal and other functions that work synergistically to relieve symptoms.

Stabilizers and preservatives can be added, however I prefer straight ascorbic acid crystals (1 teaspoon) + baking soda (1/2 teaspoon) which dissolves easily in water without additives.  Also less expensive.  An exception to processing and additives, in my opinion, is liposomal C, which became an extremely useful source of very concentrated ascorbic acid.  I used to buy this directly from Abram Hoffer's clinic in Canada when I had a blood cancer and liposomal C allowed me to consume about 27 grams (my personal saturation level) of ascorbic acid/vitamin C daily until symptoms were relieved.  This was in conjunction with other nutrients/vitamins/minerals/ temporarily, with emphasis on dark greens permanently.  However, the liposomal C was a huge part in my recovery aside major dietary changes, and there are now groups online who teach how to make liposomal C at home.  Yay for open source sharing of information!

And, because ascorbic acid is a chemical compound even as found in natural whole food sources, no brand can legitimately claim one source is better than another.  Not ester C.  Not birch.  Not whatever is erroneously claimed.  However it does seem to be more truthful to consider that what comes with ascorbic acid in a whole food might be additionally, more synergistically beneficial.  Just not the begin or end all, since in the world of nutrients no single thing is ever that.  Life is dependent on symbiotic relationships and very permie-oriented :.)

Another interesting factoid:  there is more ascorbic acid in a raw potato than in an equivalent amount of orange juice.  (Medium potato = small glass of orange juice.)  Not knocking citrus juices, just saying :.)  Most of us don't eat raw potatoes, however.  Maybe somewhere else in the world, but not in North America that I am aware of.

I've read various high temperatures ranging from 112-122 degrees fahrenheit/44-50 centigrade cause destablization, which one source explained generally means ascorbic acid/vitamin C is no longer exactly that at those temperatures.  Cooking fruits kills delicate nutrients, so the full benefit does not manifest.  That said, sometimes I do it anyway ^.^  Same at freezing temperatures - supposedly about 38 fahrenheit for ascorbic acid.  I keep ascorbic acid/vitamin C at room temperatures that keep most fruits pleasantly edible.  There are exceptions with other nutrients, yet "comfortable room temperatures" are my personal guideline for all supplements.  An example of an exception is vitamin E in sunflower oil that can be cooked with medium to high-ish temperatures while retaining valuable qualities.

Ok... digressing so stopping before this turns into a longer, off-topic rambling rant.
 
pollinator
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Well, when I was very young, many moons ago, the old folks used to say that it was due to lack of calcium.  If you do a search on causes of night cramps, amongst others there are: ageing and pregnancy, both of which I think relate to an increased need for calcium.  Would it be worth checking your D3 levels or absorption level.  Bananas are high in potassium, but so are raisins.  Maybe somewhere there is a relationship between the two that no one has understood yet?  I'm just shooting in the dark here, I am no doctor and the body is such a complicated ecosystem of sorts, with all its unfathomable interconnectedness.  I hope you find a solution, it is quite horrid to be suddenly woken up that way.

Oh, by the way, I have a tendency to listen to some old folks, often time, there seem to be some truth and wisdom in their mumbling.
 
pollinator
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lack of potassium in my experience. Eat some dried apricots.
 
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For some reason I am thinking that the potassium mimics calcium and causes the muscle to cramp as if the calcium were not there. (I have nothing to base this assumption on.) Perhaps whenever you eat something that you know has lots of potassium you could have it with a glass of milk to make sure you're getting extra calcium? I find that if I do not drink bone broth several times a week and lift heavy weights (either in the gym or doing real work), then I get spasms and cramps in my legs. I also drink lots of raw milk but if I am traveling and not able to find a source I will often get mild leg cramps at night.
 
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Not sure how to prevent, but good first aid is topical magnesium. Either a spray or cream. Rubbing that into the effected area will absorb right where you need it and help recover faster.
 
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/calcium,potassium, magnesium and salt work together to make our nerves function well. If they are out of balance you have trouble with water not  being used effectively. So if you are taking in a food that has quite a bit of one of those but neglecting the others and doing lots of moving you may have muscle cramps as a natural result. Sounds like that's your situation.  Hope you get balanced out  and stop having this trouble. I've been there and know it is no fun at all. Those minerals can be taken in as somebody else mentioned by soaking in epson salts or a milk bath or  spraying or rubbing them on your skin as well as by eating them . I have a linament I use  if I have trouble with cramps and it makes them go away in a matter of minutes.
 
Ruth Meyers
pollinator
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Matt Todd wrote:Not sure how to prevent, but good first aid is topical magnesium. Either a spray or cream. Rubbing that into the effected area will absorb right where you need it and help recover faster.



Hot dang!  Going out to rustle some up now to experiment.
 
Judith Browning
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Thanks for all of the ideas everyone...permies is such a great resource for brainstorming solutions!

At the moment, the daily tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water seems to be working.  
I'm trying to remember to do a bit of stretching also, before out hikes and after and stay away from my favorite snack last thing in the afternoon...have switched to mid morning for the apple, raisins and pn butter mix

 
pollinator
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I am glad there is a working solution.

Below are my list of recommendations:
Drink more water
Get more magnesium in your diet
Get more calcium in your diet
Get more microbes/fermented food
Do stretches/yoga/enough sleep.
 
gardener
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Definitely consider foods rich in the electrolytes mentioned and calcium plus sufficient water intake. On an odd side note, rigor mortis is caused by the body using up the available calcium which causes all the muscles to contract, and once that calcium is used up the muscles relax again. Definitely not a good way to test if you have sufficient calcium of course!
 
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It may be worth looking into the homeopathic cell salts, e.g. Scheussler Salts, Bioplasma, et.al.  They are often quite useful.
If you can find Spascupreel (from HEEL), or BHI Spasm, that may also give some relief.
 
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ive heard for years that pickle juice. works with foot and calf/leg cramps.I'm not sure if it's low Electrolytes. or cacium or what ever.but what's worked for me over the years.is rasins.i normally get them not coated with sugar. but i wonder if sugar coated rasins would work better.
 
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