5 Scientific Ways to Stop Muscle Cramps (And What Causes Those Annoying Cramps In The First Place).

Calf Cramp

You hate cramps.

They hurt, they slow you down, and they negate months of hard training by costing your precious time in a race.

To fight cramps, you’re told to stay hydrated and consume lots of electrolytes. You’re not alone. Craig Alexander, Terenzo Bozzone, Chris McCormack and other top professional triathletes take salt tablets during their racing and training to avoid cramps.

Pretty much every sports nutrition book and magazine you can find will tell you that if you want to avoid muscle cramps, you need lots of water and electrolytes.

In this guest article by Armi Legge, an author at, you’re going to learn why consuming water and electrolytes probably won’t help you avoid muscle cramps, and what you can do instead.

What People Think Causes Muscle Cramps

The most common explanation for what causes muscle cramps goes like this:1

When you exercise, your body sweats, releasing water and electrolytes like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and chloride.

As you continue to lose water and electrolytes during your workout, your body becomes depleted.

Electrolytes help conduct nerve impulses throughout your body, which allows your muscles to contract. When your body loses enough water and/or electrolytes, the nerve impulses from your brain to your muscles become deranged. This makes your muscles cramp.

This is why you’re told to consume sports drinks, electrolyte tablets, and lots of water during and around your workouts to help prevent or treat muscle cramps. Unfortunately, there’s almost no evidence this works.

Why Electrolyte Loss and Dehydration Probably Don’t Cause Muscle Cramps

There are four reasons why losing electrolytes and water probably doesn’t cause — or isn’t the primary cause — of your muscle cramps.2-5

1. Sweat contains far more water than it does electrolytes.

When you become dehydrated your blood levels of electrolytes actually rise or stay about the same.6

2. Athletes who get muscle cramps have about the same level of electrolytes and dehydration as athletes who don’t cramp.7

In some cases athletes who cramp have slightly higher magnesium levels.Other studies have found no relation of any kind between an athlete’s electrolyte levels and their risk of cramping — their risk of cramping was no higher or lower based on their electrolyte levels.9

Athletes who cramp also have about the same level of hydration as athletes who don’t.10

Another study found that drinking Gatorade did not prevent people from cramping (though there are a few problems with that study, so don’t get too excited).11

3. Not all of your muscles cramp.

If your cramps were caused losing too many electrolytes, then all or most of your muscles should cramp — not just some of them.

When people develop a real electrolyte deficiency, virtually all of their muscles go into uncontrollable spasms. On the other hand, athletes almost always get cramps in the muscles they’re using the most during their workouts. For example, in one study on ultra-marathon runners over 95% of all cramps occurred in the leg muscles during the race.8

4. Stretching, resting, and drinking pickle juice shouldn’t help stop cramps — but they do.

If muscle cramps were caused by dehydration and electrolyte loss, then there’s no good reason why stretching, resting, and sipping pickle juice should help cramps disappear — but they do.3

Stretching and resting a muscle doesn’t increase its electrolyte or water content, but both of these strategies do help muscle cramps go away.

In one study, pickle juice helped cramps disappear faster than drinking water or nothing at all.12 You might think that the salt and other electrolytes in the pickle juice were what stopped the cramps — not so. The cramps stopped long before the sodium from the pickles could be absorbed, so it didn’t work because it was replenishing lost electrolytes.13

What Really Causes Muscle Cramps

The newest and most scientifically supported theory is that muscle cramps are caused by premature fatigue.2

As you get tired, your muscle’s reflex control becomes dysfunctional. Instead of contracting and relaxing like they’re supposed to, they keep firing. Basically, your muscles become “twitchy” and can’t stop contracting.

This theory is supported by several lines of evidence.

1. The muscles you use the most during your workouts are the ones that usually cramp.

2. Muscles that cross multiple joints are more likely to cramp than other muscles. These muscles generally have more activity during exercise when they’re more likely to get tired.

3. You’re far more likely to cramp during a race than you are in training — when you’re pushing yourself harder than normal. Cramps also tend to occur at the end of races when you’re most fatigued.

4. If you don’t pace yourself properly, you’re more likely to cramp. Athletes who go out too hard relative to their training experience are much more likely to cramp than those who stay within their limits.7,14

5. Drinking pickle juice helps cramps disappear faster than drinking water or nothing at all, and this happens before the salt from the pickle juice can be absorbed. Researchers think this is because the salty taste of the pickle juice “tricks” the brain into relaxing the muscles.12

6. Some evidence indicates that athletes who cramp have more muscle damage before races.14

At this point, there’s no direct evidence that consuming extra electrolytes will help you avoid muscle cramps. There’s some evidence that dehydration might be involved, but it’s almost certainly not the primary cause of your muscle cramps.

5 Scientific Ways to Stop Muscle Cramps

1. Train specifically for your race.

Most cramps happen when you push yourself harder than you’re used to. If you make your training more similar to racing in terms of intensity and duration, then you’re probably less likely to cramp.

2. Rest.

If you get a cramp, the best way to get rid of it is to rest. Most cramps don’t last more than about 2-3 minutes at most.

3. Lightly stretch the muscle.

Some evidence indicates that light passive stretching can help muscle cramps go away faster than rest alone. You’re not trying to improve your flexibility with this stretching — just pull on the muscle lightly to tell the brain it’s okay to relax.

4. Drink pickle juice or another salty solution.

Drinking pickle juice may help your cramps disappear faster than drinking plain water or nothing. Since the effect is probably due to the acidic/salty taste, any similar drink or food would probably work well, too.

5. Stay hydrated.
There isn’t much evidence that dehydration causes muscle cramps, but it might contribute.11 It’s obviously worth staying hydrated for other reasons, so keep drinking when you’re thirsty.

Reduce Your Risk of Muscle Cramps

Nothing can guarantee that you’ll never get a muscle cramp. However, using the best available scientific evidence, you can reduce your chances significantly.

For prevention: Train smart and stay hydrated.

For treatment: rest, lightly stretch the muscle, and maybe drink something that tastes like salt or vinegar.

Do you have any questions about muscle cramps? Leave them in the comments section below and Ben and I will respond.


1. Miller KC, Stone MS, Huxel KC, Edwards JE. Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps. Sports Health. 2010;2(4):279–283. Available at:

2. Schwellnus MP. Cause of exercise associated muscle cramps (EAMC)–altered neuromuscular control, dehydration or electrolyte depletion? Br J Sports Med. 2009;43(6):401–408. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.050401.

3. Schwellnus MP, Drew N, Collins M. Muscle cramping in athletes–risk factors, clinical assessment, and management. Clin Sports Med. 2008;27(1):183–94– ix–x. doi:10.1016/j.csm.2007.09.006.

4. Schwellnus MP. Muscle cramping in the marathon : aetiology and risk factors. Sports Med. 2007;37(4-5):364–367.

5. Schwellnus MP, Derman EW, Noakes TD. Aetiology of skeletal muscle “cramps” during exercise: a novel hypothesis. J Sports Sci. 1997;15(3):277–285. doi:10.1080/026404197367281.

6. Sawka MN. Physiological consequences of hypohydration: exercise performance and thermoregulation. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1992;24(6):657–670.

7. Schwellnus MP, Drew N, Collins M. Increased running speed and previous cramps rather than dehydration or serum sodium changes predict exercise-associated muscle cramping: a prospective cohort study in 210 Ironman triathletes. Br J Sports Med. 2011;45(8):650–656. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2010.078535.

8. Schwellnus MP, Nicol J, Laubscher R, Noakes TD. Serum electrolyte concentrations and hydration status are not associated with exercise associated muscle cramping (EAMC) in distance runners. Br J Sports Med. 2004;38(4):488–492.

9. Brouns F, Beckers E, Wagenmakers AJ, Saris WH. Ammonia accumulation during highly intensive long-lasting cycling: individual observations. Int J Sports Med. 1990;11 Suppl 2:S78–84. doi:10.1055/s-2007-1024858.

10. Sulzer NU, Schwellnus MP, Noakes TD. Serum electrolytes in Ironman triathletes with exercise-associated muscle cramping. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37(7):1081–1085.

11. Jung AP, Bishop PA, Al-Nawwas A, Dale RB. Influence of Hydration and Electrolyte Supplementation on Incidence and Time to Onset of Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps. J Athl Train. 2005;40(2):71–65. Available at:

12. Miller KC, Mack GW, Knight KL, et al. Reflex inhibition of electrically induced muscle cramps in hypohydrated humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(5):953–961. doi:10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181c0647e.

13. Miller KC, Mack GW, Knight KL. Gastric emptying after pickle-juice ingestion in rested, euhydrated humans. J Athl Train. 2010;45(6):601–608. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-45.6.601.

14. Schwellnus MP, Allie S, Derman W, Collins M. Increased running speed and pre-race muscle damage as risk factors for exercise-associated muscle cramps in a 56 km ultra-marathon: a prospective cohort study. Br J Sports Med. 2011;45(14):1132–1136. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2010.082677.


208 thoughts on “5 Scientific Ways to Stop Muscle Cramps (And What Causes Those Annoying Cramps In The First Place).

  1. Hi,

    I often get a foot or calf cramp in my left leg while cycling and I do believe it comes from pushing too hard. But another time I get cramps that is not addressed in you article but I would be interested to know if you have any comments on is morning cramps. Just this morning I woke up with a bad cramp in my left calf. Any thoughts on the cause of this? Thanks.

  2. Hi my son is 25 yrs old type 1 diabete, ice hockey player and is off season and doing his summer workout. He works out about 2-2.5 hours a day. Is well hydrated and is having severe cramps in his thigh muscles. We have tried everything and not sure what is going on. He is 6 foot tall and weighs 175 pounds. I was just wondering if he is taking in too much water. He is drinking a little over a gallon a day.

  3. After I had Coronary angioplasty I have terrible cramps in both hands and forearms. I am drinking plenty of water. It does help a little but not totally gone. What can I take to get rid of the cramps?

  4. Question about Calf and Leg Muscles Irritation and stiffness

    16 years ago, my mother travelled to Pakistan. He slept under fan for the first time. When she woke up at that that morning’ she started complaining from lower back pain. We all realized that she got that pain because of the fan.

    My mom consulted a doctor that day. The doctor gave some medicines to my mom, but the medicine had no positive effect on my mom.

    After a month, the pain transmitted to her left leg muscles and calves.

    She consulted a numbers of doctors but no one treated her. She has been suffering since that time from pain in his leg and calves muscles and also lower back pain.

    The pain increase when she walks, exercises, eats sour food drink cool water, eat some other types of food, sit under fan and air condition.

    We don’t know what the name of this problem is and how to cure it and other tips.



  5. Sleep with a bar of soap in the bed. I know, crazy right? I read this bar of soap idea on the People’s Pharmacy.

    Also, check your blood pressure. If your BP is too high, this too can cause terrible mind-altering calf cramps. It is terrible to wake up screaming bloody murder. ;)

  6. I occasionally, but rarely get leg cramps at night. Usually, I find it happens when I go for a marathon workout on the elliptical after I haven’t done it for a while. (My normal cardio workout is long distance running which almost never causes leg cramps for me). I’m not sure if maybe it’s because after my runs I walk up a huge, steep hill as my cool down, and after the elliptical I just go straight for the shower. (I don’t even do the cool down cycle recommended). Or maybe because I run so much, my body is used to it. I really think it has more to do with skipping the cool down though when doing the elliptical.

    I am surprised that no one on this site has mentioned taurine which is very effective in preventing/alleviating cramps. At least it does for me. It is best taken on an empty stomach. I usually take 500 mg with 200 mg of magnesium citrate an hour before a meal, when I am anticipating night cramps. If I awake in the night and am having twitchy legs, I get up and take it and usually go right back to sleep.

    Also, I drink tons of water during my elliptical workouts, (nothing during running, but lots afterwards). I eat lots of ripe bananas, yogurt and milk, and add regular healthy amounts of sea salt to my meals. I rarely get cramps when using these tools.

    Iron deficiency can cause terrible cramping too, and it’s very easy for women to become low in iron. Check with your doctor though and get a blood test before implementing extra iron to your diet. You have to take a lot of it for a long period of time if you are deficient.

  7. “If you make your training more similar to racing in terms of intensity and duration, then you’re probably less likely to cramp”. I dig this, because often the lack of enough water and electrolytes isn’t the case. But how about training in a ‘zone 2 setting’ for 80% and 20% high intensity (thus skipping the area where you actually run in)?

    1. Ben…..most of my salt content come from eating lays kettle potato chips with 105mg of sodium content so i eat about 10 potato chips a day, every day…and i still get cramps in the calf area during my time of sleeping and when it happens it wakes me up and it last about 20/30 seconds by rubbing the area… is the only time i get cramps……………….it does not happen every night fortunately…about 2 or 3 a month lately…i do leg exercises before bedtime and that helps..stretching against the wall and bending my knees

  8. I was getting leg cramps maybe twice a week when I exrevise toward night time about 3:00 on. But would only get them on the inside of my thighs

    and only when sleeping. I had to get three

    cortisone shots and now get cramps all over at night,legs,feet,calfs tried leg cramp pills,raw apple cider vinegar magnesium,but no help.I do hydrate plenty when I work out..any ideas?

  9. Hi Ben, got your latest book. I have it in Audio and listen to it while training. Just finished doing the Miami Half Marathon. I hydrate during the week, all 5 to 6 waters a day, I eat carbs (quinoa, cereal, etc.) and also take electrolytes, more specific, Accelerade Sports Drink during spinning, and/or training runs. During this Half, I had 3 gels, Surge expresso, and two bottles of Sports drink, plus a bit of water during the water stops. On the last mile, felt the cramp coming, but luckily I walked for a while, drank more water, and was able to finish the race. On my way home, my leg cramps where so bad, I was screaming “bloody Hell! I don’t know anymore what to do for these horrible leg cramps that only happen after races. I don’t like pickle juice (Ug), however, perhaps I am not putting the effort on my practice long runs as I do in the real races? I am desperate as I have more Half races coming up. BTW, I am 74 years old, but don’t treat me like one!!

    1. Viven I would definitely suggest you try pickle juice and see if it helps. And yes, it definitely sounds like it could also be that you aren't training specifically for your race. If you want to go into further detail feel free to book a consult at <a href="” target=”_blank”> and choose 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled for a Skype consult and we'll go over everything there.

  10. I drink lots of water & electolights waters. I also eat cambells chicken Noddle soup. My legs cramp up at night when I am trying to sleep. I do not exercise. I had a blood test and all electro lights were normal. Please help me. I am going out of my mind.

  11. My cramps wake me up through the night, sometimes have me in tears cos they are so painful. They go from my feet right up to my inner thigh. Any advice would be great

  12. I am a high intensity musical performer who plays guitar and sings like a 26 mile marathon. I am a trained singer and I support intensely with my diaphragm. No to be a downer but I’m a professional cramp er since I’m 5 years old. Plagued my life and family to this day and it’s worse then ever. I’m not in agreement with much of what you say here and I can’t imagine there is a person out there with more experience with cramping. I do like the idea and had never heard about you pickle juice philosophy. I’m going to get down with that for sure. It sounds good to me. I’m desperate. Other then that this article sounds like it’s written by someone who is not basking in cramping experience. Much of what you said I know to be not so true.

  13. I tend to get cramp on the inside of my right leg between my knee and my crutch – and occasionally in my calves.

    The former is wickedly sore,ususlly happens in the middle of the night and can take up to 15 minutes before vigorous massaging gets rid of it.I am in mymid 70’s used to play rugby so calf problem is easily dealt with and I do take a small bottle of tonic water everydayI also believe I am reasonably fit and take part in The Highland Cross every year – 50 miles walk and cycle from West coast Scottish waters to east coast+occasional Munro’s!

    How do I counter the cramp,please?

  14. Hello, I experience cramps in all areas, pecs, forearms, tri’s and bi’s, stomach, lats, hands and fingers, (mostly thumb), etc. I am 57 years old, white, fit, have worked out most of my life, not crazy, but have tried to keep toned. Some years ago I changed my routine where I work legs and shoulders day 1, bi’s and tri’s day 2 and chest and lats day 3, then an off day. It seems my cramping may relate to which muscles I have exercised that day or day before, but not always. And I can go days, and even weeks, with no cramps, so I am confused. I eat well, drink plenty of fluids and am thinking of putting a stretching workout in between my lift days, but I am totally stuck on stupid when it comes to stretching and would like to do it in an efficient manner. Thanks.

  15. I have had painful muscle cramps for three years now. I can’t find a doctor to tell me why I have had this happening to me for this long. They put me on Kepra which slowed them down but did not stop them. All blood work was fine. Even my upper lip cramps. Spent thousands of dollars to try and get this to stop but no one ones. Can you help?

    1. Get your mineral levels checked…blood tests…….Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Selenium………if not in balance ( do not be told that ” you are in the “range”!!! )……. then take a supplement to balance them. I have a extremely high Potassium reading at present and low Magnesium….thoughts are that it is due to eating very high potassium fruits and veges raw, and in smoothies…….so have changed my diet and will check it out in a months time.

      Good luck.

  16. Hi Ben!

    I’m Vidhu Nair(19 years, girl) from India. I read your article regarding cramps and what causes them. I’m a professional badminton player. I have two on court sessions everyday and fitness sessions thrice a week. All these sessions are hectic and tough. But I get cramps when I’m training hard. Sometimes I even get stiffness and this has gotten pretty much regular… And to improve and then take rest because of cramps is saddening. After every good tournament …when I come back for practice my full body gets sore. I have tried ice packs and Epsom salts for this problem… They do help..but any permanent solution to these recurring cramps? I would really like to know how I can prevent these as they are a huge hindrance to my game and also very demotivating.

  17. I have no health problem(but for spasms mainly in right calf off and on at night time. Then I try to walk it off and it takes care of it. It can be scary. I drink(Artesian well water) least 32 ounces of water a day, often times it is 64 ounces. I walk an hour a day. I’m thinking if I had better shoes(flat feet) it would be better for walking like I do. Maybe I’m low on Magnesium or Electrolytes(what foods or is best for getting Electrolytes). I’m 66 year old woman. Very conscious of eating right, ect. Am I drinking too much water? I take no medicines of any kind.

  18. Can you please tell me if you have

    5 fusions rods and screws from

    the bottom of your back to just above your waist , can that cause constant

    cramps that are very often and last a

    long time?

  19. I forgot to mention in the previous comment that my blood tests that day show my electrolytes were normal. Also, I have been taking 20 mg of Lisinopril and 80 mg of Simvastatin the last 15 years. A am 6’1″ and weigh 212 pounds.

  20. I’ve had my share of cramps over the last 67 years. Usually in my calf or thigh, many after going to bed. And quite a few when I reach down to put my socks or shoes on. But this year I have a new demon haunting me. About a month ago I had the whole area on my inner thigh cramp. Not just 1 muscle. I was on the floor for 20 minutes before I could move. It was 10am and I was watching TV since I got up. I play a game called pickleball 4-5 times a week. Usually 2-3 hours each time. I play hard and keep my heart rate high. I sweat way more than most people. But in the last 6 months , my sweating has become ridiculous.

    2 days after my thigh cramp it happened again. I was playing pickleball in the morning when I became too tired to continue. That was a first ever. I sat and watched others play for about 10 minutes. When I stood up, that inner thigh cramp started. Terrible pain. I went to the ground and massaged it. Then the other inner thigh cramped. Then one of my calves. As I tried to massage my thigh, my fingers and fore arm cramped. They weren’t painful. They just locked up. There were also small cramps on my back and stomach. They didn’t hurt. After 20 minutes of no change a nurse friend called an ambulance. The took me to the hospital and gave me 1 1/2 liters of fluid.

    I told the EMT’s, nurses, and doctors the only thing different was before these 2 incidents I used Albuterol. The blood test they did said I was slightly dehydrated. But that morning I had 30 ounces of fluid at home. While playing 32 oz of Gatorade and about 20 oz of water before getting the cramps at 10am. I’ve been getting winded too soon the last couple years. An allergist gave me the Albuterol to use before exercise. Even though he didn’t find me allergic to anything. I quit using it shortly since I didn’t feel any improvement. Then I went to a pulmonologist. She said I have exercise induced asthma. And use the Albuterol a half hour before exercise. So the 2 times I’ve used it recently-sever cramps. Online I found the Albuterol can cause sever cramps.

    Who do I go to next? I am going for a nuclear stress test this afternoon. The cardiologist I visited last week doesn’t think I have a circulation issue. But at my age he said it is precautionary.

    1. Hi Doug,

      Have you been tested for iron deficiency? This can cause extreme cramping as you seem to be experiencing. It also causes shortness of breath. It is very easy to remedy, but you have to take a lot of it over a long period of time.

      Please see my post listed earlier this morning for additional suggestions, and good luck.

  21. enjoyed the article, found it very useful.

    i am a landscaper and sweating my balls off in this Toronto humidity. i started cramping and it hasn’t stopped completely for hours. i found the athlete/ race analogy (?) to hit close to home. i was using a power pruner and pushing it hard today, and my forearms and hands have been insufferable. any advice?

  22. My grandson s13.

    He has always had cramps in his legs after sport, and also gets it now in hush ands.

    He has sodium tablets to take when they are with him.

    I have read all your advice.

    I get cramps too, and was given quinine tablets by my doctor.

    These seem to hel me.

    Would quinine help my grandson to prevent cramps?

    Jane lewis

  23. I GET PRETTY REGULAR FOOT AND LEG CRAMPS. HAVE SPENT TWO YEARS STRETCHING, SOAKING IN HOT WATER, ECT. I also have trigger fingers on my left hand. I had carpal tunnel surgery but it did not stop the trigger fingers. Sometimes, the cramps also involve my abdomen. If I am seated, I have to jump up and wait it out. What causes such cramps? What treatment might help?

  24. My grandmother has been suffering from cramps at night for many many years now she’s 78 and crys from the pain at night due to the cramps,she doesn’t exercise, she rests,she stays hydrated, she takes meds for cramps, she does not however drink pickle juice but does have something salty equivalent and that is her own concoction of salt and like chilli powder which she sucks on all day,although it does relieve the pain the salt cuts her tongue and she has lost her taste of food and being an Indian who eats curry hot food burns her mouth,she does have diabetes and takes chronic medication for a lot of other things(pressure,sugar,etc),I don’t know if the medication she takes cause the cramps that’s why I’ve listed the ones I know,I’m really searching for ways to help relieve her pain can you help me?or perhaps recommend a tablet she should take,its a different type of cramps she has I have no idea what it is but its hard seeing her in pain all these years since I was a kid

  25. I am 72 yrs old and stay pretty active golfing twice a week and walking my dogs 3 times a day for about 10 minutes. I just started getting the worst cramp on the outside of my leg from the knee down into my foot. Because of the heat here in Las Vegas, I drink 4 or 5 bottles of Gatorade per round of golf along with water too. I’m concerned because this painful event encompasses the entire area of my outter leg and foot all at once when I am in bed. I do on occasion get cramps in my feet. Any suggestions that might make this better will be appreciated.

  26. I am 60 and started training for a 1/2 marathon. After 3-4 miles I start getting cramps in my left back lower to mid section. Totally disables me.
    I rest I stretch and I drink a lot of fluids. What else can I do to avoid cramps.
    Also occasionally I get cramps in my calf and feet.

  27. Hi, Ben. I live with and take care of my 92 year old grandmother. She uses a walker and cane and is on oxygen 24 hours a day. Needless to say she doesnt get any exercise to speak of. She takes a number of medications and she also takes vitamins and supplements including magnesium. Recently she has been getting cramps in her right lower leg after she goes to bed. Could this be caused by her lack of exercise? I am stumped.

  28. Hi Ben, I have just read your article on cramps and I find it very interesting. I have been cycling for about 3 yrs now and from day 1 until even today I am suffering with cramps in my legs, I cannot get over 50 miles with short rest breaks in between without cramping I have tried keeping up my fluids and electrolytes and I stretch before and after exercise. Today I have used energy tablets containing magnesium but it seems that too much magnesium could in fact make matters worse having just read your column. I was wandering if I could be suffering an iron deficiency during sports and wondered if I should try iron supplements during cycling. I do sometimes suffer cramps when just relaxing too and not after exercise. Do you think I should consult a doctor first before taking iron supplements?

  29. My father, aged 73 years, got severe leg cramps after doing stationary cycling. He used to walk regularly in the morning for many decades. Now he has developed osteoarthritis in right knee, but with regular exercises he is normal. But after this recent cycle exercise, he is experiencing excruciating pain in thighs, radiating to leg since 2 weeks. He had his MRI, which shows cavities and stenosis in lumber and sacral regions. But according to neurosurgeons, he is not having symptoms otherwise, so no need for surgery. He is having physiotherapy and hot pads which is giving a temporary relief. In the morning , when awake, again pain starts. Kindly suggest some good treatment and medicines as he becomes unable to sit at times.

    1. I am not a doctor and nothing I say should be taken as medical advice, but if you want to go into detail feel free to book a consult at and choose 20 or 60 mins and we'll get you scheduled.

  30. The only time I get cramps is when I drink lots of water, I usually drink 2 to 3 16oz bottles of water but when I try harder I drink 6 to 7 and if I try to watch my food for 3 days eating really on track and then the rest of the week I eat healthy but I only do this once a month. The thing that surprises me is that during the 3 days is when I get my muscle cramps, I have tried electrolytes powder from the vitamin shoppe but nothing. This is the only patter I’ve been able to track.

  31. I wish my cramps could be helped. Whether I work out or not, they come at nights, especially after I eat a big meal. I can’t eat at nights anymore. I’ve tried bananas, pickle juice, and everything else…no go. Nothing works. Doctors can’t find out what’s wrong. I am in shape, but nothing seems to matter.

    Any thoughts?

      1. I have been getting these same type of cramps lately with having to move and pack my things by myself. In my house & Yard. I have been doing it at night but it doesnt seem to help much more. I am NOT one to use AC. I havent used it in the last 5 years and I live in Key Largo. I hydrate and could probably drink more. Now I have 2 months to finalize this move but everytime I start to exert myself, within 1 or 2 hours I become Totally and Painfully Crippled. This move HAS to be done and just by me… I am a Female, 64… & have been physical all my life…( Construction/Welder) & last night I got cramps so bad in my legs I could barely walk! And it was mostly in my arms, shoulders, hands & elbows & inside of my arms.. They lasted for hours. They were so excruciatingly painful I almost called an ambulance! I was actually in tears. I tried the Salt & Sugar water mixture you posted… and after a few hours of lying down it seems to work. I tried to get up after 1 1/2 hours and it started again. I had to stay down for at least 3 hours! Now my body is so sore Im barely moving without the cramps! I cant be doing this every time I need to start packing. Can I actually do something terminal or even fatal if I try to push on thru? I am at a loss completely, & with only one choice of direction.

      2. One more thing…. besides Physical…. Which is all ive seen here, can cramps be cause by Mental Stress along with Physical…. or even just Mental Stress alone?

  32. Hi, during a search of my issues I came across your posts, hopefully you can give my some reasoning. My legs usually calves, my feet, toes, inside forearms, hands, and fingers cramp up all the time. My fingers and toes pull in without my control. My fingers and cold and literally numb a lot of time. I never know which body part is going to cramp or when or how long it will last. Sometimes these cramps last several minutes up to having them last for hours. They are so very painful. Absolutely nothing I’ve tried, including oral pain relievers, topical, muscular, plus stretching, massaging, drinking water, Powerade, resting, etc. without any relief. It stops when it stops. There is nothing that I do consistently that makes any of this flare up. It just happens. Do you have ANY ideas or suggestions? Thank you in advance for any advice you can give me.

  33. i’m taking meds for cholesterol and every night when i lay down to sleep I get a bad cramp in my legs. when I’m just sitting some were and turn i get a cramp in my lugs/chest/shoulder or what ever part of my body that is being stretched, what could this be

    1. Firstly, I am not a doctor and nothing I say should be taken as medical advice, but if you want to go into detail, book a consult at and choose 20 or 60 mins and we'll get you scheduled to go over everything!

  34. I have a cramp that’s persistent, it’s on my right side right under my tit, hurts like a bitch and I can even feel it when I breathe, it’s from coughing too much, and it’s built up over a while, I can’t really stop coughing or breathing so I was wondering if you knew of other methods? Or potentially had some good stretches to suggest

  35. Almost 10 years ago I have a DVT that became a PE and I realize that I am fortunate to be here! However, the damage caused to my veins is very visible even though not painful. My main problem is that after exercise, even one 3-set match of doubles tennis I have severe leg cramps. I take potassium magnesium aspartate which does help some but does not prevent cramps. I have a super senior (65+ age) tennis championship coming up this weekend. Can you suggest something other than hydration may help prevent cramping?

  36. I have suffered from muscle cramps for several years. They usually present in my thigh muscles but I have had episodes where I have cramps in my feet, fingers, stomach, hands, neck etc. I am not an athlete and have a sedentary lifestyle.

    I believe dehydration is a key factor because cramping happens after: Drinking alcohol, drinking lots of coffee, eating a big meal, periods of outdoor work, sports or exertion. I have also noticed a correlation between cramping episodes and the subsequent need to have a bowel movement. All of these factors suggest dehydration.

    A year ago I stopped drinking alcohol and my cramping episodes stopped almost 90%. I now only have cramping episodes after several days in a row sitting at work and drinking too much coffee.

  37. When I cramp my whole body cramps, my neck, my arms and hand’s, my hips, my inner thigh, upper legs, calves, and toes. It’s painful, very painful, and messaging it makes it worse. It’s not just one thing at a time but all of them at once. I can’t move.

  38. Hi, I am NOT an athlete haven’t been since high school (I am 35 nearly 36 yrs old) but I am a mom of three at home (2003, 2005, and 2014) two adopted out (2000, and 1999) and I have two in heaven (2008 and 2011). I have been told my L5 S1 is bulging and torn an it has worsened after a year of pain meds, and recently varapamil (calcium blocker used for blood pressure confused as to why they put me on this because of my recent leg cramps/spasms) very painful cramps arch of feet, calves, inner thigh, under buttocks, buttocks, now I’ve started having them in my forearms and palms of my hands. They found my C5 is bulging and torn…I have no idea how these injuries occures because after wrecks I’m the past (11-11-11 being most recent t-bone in my door while driving went to chiropractor to fix my hip on my right side, back to 2008 rear ending not severe and 2006 I think another rear ending…then before that 2000, 1999 and even still before that 1993. No CT no MRI ever noted said injuries after these wrecks…I don’t really remember when my ache in my legs began but it’s turned into these horrific spasms that make me cry. Doctor put me on gabapentin and flexeril and randomly takes my pain meds from me…I hate to admit that I struggle with day to day care for my family, housework, self care, etc. Just because I anticipate the worsening cramps and spasms the pain when doing anything other than sitting around the house all day. I wish I could start cross country running again but I haven’t done it since 1996 in highschool…which I ended up quiting because asthma/smoking…I’ve quit smoking but still vap 18mg of nicotine, but the onset of these spasms line up with my quiting smoking and the recent findings of bulges and tears on my C5 and T5 S1, I go to see a back surgeon actually today to see what my options are. I might not my left side of my body has noticible muscle tone loss and my right side feels so different at times I worry I had a stroke. I had a muscle biopsy taken from my left calf only to find it normal. My right side of my body is shorter, visably smaller on my hands feet and nails. And on another note my nail on my right foot does not grow (I paint my nails and months even year later the left has a cm growth and the right is still on the cuticle…no idea of its realavent or not.

    I have not been able to touch my toes in ages, I’m far from flexible, I’ve been really lazy over the last 16 or so years but majority of the time I’ve been pregnant (7 times) I’m fixed and done now…now I want my body back and it hates me. Just cleaning the house or taking a shower I’m utterly exhausted and in worse pain than when I broke my foot and walked around on it for a week before I went to the doctor. I tolerate pain but this pain I face is so excruciating I am beside myself as to what to do about it and doctors have thrown me into the fibromyalgia catch all diagnosis but the rheumatologist said I did not have this…but my pain hasn’t been taken serious on and off but since my recent discovery of my disc injuries they have taken me seriously but suddenly after my dosco discogram my doctor stopped refilling my Tylenol 3…I might note that when it is winter time my spasms are worse, my body tenses in the cold and then for some reason won’t relax after I warm up and spasms get worse…its been this way for as long as I can rememeber I’ve been on ibuprofen 800 and flexeril most my adult life because of this at first it was just spasming in my back but now it’s all over…but interesting its worse on my right side the shorter not growing side. My doctor throws antidepressants at me treating me like a head case until these findings on my scans with my back.

    I go today to see a back surgeon to see what options I have to get these discs healed already done epidurals on both areas and the recent one in my C5 sent my body into an ache all over and spasms started in my arms and my over all pain worsened. The first two in my c5 area though those were heavn and I got my life back for a few months at a time heaven sent but the third one made me worse ever and then when they did the c5 even still worse…so now I’m going to a surgeon and I’m mortified…but willing to do anything so I can get my life back. I’m desperate. But the facts that my right side is shorter, has the most stronger spasms, feels as though I’ve had a stroke, and I forgot to mention I’ve suffered from bursitis in my right shoulder for 5-6 years now, I keep reinjuring it by doing simple tasks. Physical therapy made it worse but my recent physical therapist told me why it wasn’t helping me (they were having me stretch the wrong direction and it was making it worse) so this therapist is helping me even massaging the area and having me do his arch back exercise to correct my hunch over habit which my body because in so much pain automatically wants to protect itself by hunching forward.

    Anyway. I think that’s all the history needed to answer my question and that is what could cause me to tighten muscles but can’t release them? That is what it feels like almost nearly like the torticollis I face in 2001 when under severe stress my right ear was stuck to my shoulder and I was strained for weeks after. And at times when my body spasms it feels sprained/strained. Any ideas that I could relay to my doctors would be greatly appreciated. So I can get my life back. Idk how much longer I can face these spasms every winter they are worse…I’m tempted to move to a warmer state, just to see if that is the problem…or if it would help…if a doctor told me to jump on one foot and Pat my head and rub my stomach and that would cure me I’d be skeptical but I would try it at least I don’t want to be on pain meds for the rest of my life I want to run and do races not to win just to say I did it…and do it for one of them fundraising type runs so for purpose…I’m sick of not having a life outside a chair/bed without having to face consequences later with pain and spasms from heck…

    Thank you for your time if you have any questions to help farther your advice I’m an open book. On my website (my YouTube) you can search for my fitness journey… Which shows how I can’t touch my toes and how not flexible I am…i never followed up with this series of videos because I got pregnant again for the last time…I plan to start the series again after we figure out how to heal and get on the mend…I want to be someone’s success story but no one shows interest in helping get me back into life…that’s all I want is my life back.

    Thanks again.

    1. I am not a doctor and anything I say should not be taken as medical advice. If you want to go into detail about your situation, feel free to book a consult at and choose 20 or 60 mins and we'll get you scheduled

  39. I was on Relafen and I was gaining some weight when I stopped it I started cramping all over my feet my hands my legs my toes my stomach underneath my ribs I just everywhere. I have read the above article about the pickle juice and I’ll try it, and I’m taking muscle relaxers. What do you think is causing my cramping throughout my body, Am I dehydrated. I can’t figure it out will you please help me? Thanks & God Bless

  40. Hi Ben..

    I am a55 year old male.. I have cramping in my hands when I get done eating.. I do run swim and bike. Sometimes get cramping in my legs and feet when I run a marathon. Is there any suggestion that you can give me for this cramping.. I been trying a lot of things that people suggested to me.. nothing seems to work

      1. I have tried a lot of things.. nothing seems to help…..blood work came back normal.. Dr. said he didn’t know what was going on.. do you have any ideals?

  41. i am josh,wheneva i play a football match i develop calf muscle has become consistent now to d extent dat i would have been developing muscle cramps towards d end of d first 45min.which i find so annoying because i will have to reduce d way i race which will end up in defenders marking me with ease..plss i need a solution

  42. I’m 54, overweight and consume o amounts of water and not active because I have severe copd. I have been getting severe muscle spasms for about 3 years. They are behind my breast through to my back, above and behind ribs, above breast towards shoulder, sides and middle back. They are so bad and have lasted 10 minutes and sometimes I sweat and feel like I can vomit. Dr just doesn’t seem to want to find out why or recommend anyrhing. My vitamin d is low, 13.6 so I started vitamin d about 2 weeks ago. I take hydrochlorithyzide for water retention, and I noticed they were worse with these so I stopped taking them. Cramps got mildly better. Then Dr said the pulls would not dehydrate me so started taking g them again with potassium. They are so bad again. I wake up with them at night, showering is unbearable. I also get cramps in my toes and top outside of feet at night. I started yesterday to try and drink more water. Please help me… I cry they hurt so bad. Help me please…what can I do…I can’t live like this another day…

    1. Karen, have you tried the recommendations in this article? Beyond that, its really hard to say what the issue might be. I am not a doctor and anything I say should not be taken as medical advice, but if you want to go into detail feel free to book a consult at and choose 20 or 60 mins and we'll get you scheduled.

  43. So I don’t know if someone has asked a similar question or not but here it goes. I’ve been an athlete all of my life so I’ve had my fair share of cramps on occasions. Not a big deal, I usually stop, stretch then continue practice. I have one area that seems to cramp the most, and is by far the hardest to get rid of… My right side of my stomach, right at the bottom of my rib cage. This is usually the only place I ever cramp and it’s frustrating. I’ve been plagued with these during swim practice growing up but now that I’m older (26) it’s gotten worse. I am training hard for my first ever spartan race that’s in a few months.. My problem is I get this cramp when I run, sometimes I run through it but there’s been a couple times where I could barely make it home walking. Sometimes it hits me at mile 1 and sometimes at 4. Either way I don’t want this during a race or training. Is there something that could be causing this or any way to stop it? This is even a hard area to stretch bc it’s on the front part of my stomach.

  44. I suffer inner thigh cramps, usually when I seem to be going through a cramping phase.

    Used to put it down to pushing a tractor clutch during work but I occasionally get it in the right thigh. It’s usually associated with fatigue and not enough sleep.

    It’s got to be the worst type of cramp, like a knife has been driven into the muscle and I’d swap it for 10 calf cramps any time. I do a stretching exercise shown by my doctor. Not sure how much it helps but it possibly reduces the number of spasms.

    On other cramps, I wonder how many are caused by tight fitting shoes. I can get foot cramp wearing two pairs of socks in a boot that fits with one pair.

  45. Ben,

    I am a cyclist who has always suffered from cramping issues. I went on a several hour mt bike ride about 6 weeks ago and I started to cramp in my thighs. I had been drinking water and taking cliff shots throughout the ride This went on for about hour and a half and I finally cramped up so bad in my legs I could not walk and my arms and back also cramped. I was taken to the hospital and after about 3 hours and IV I was able to go home. The problem is, ever since then, I have really bad muscle weakness in my legs and they ache, I can’t hardly ride. I have a hard time being on my feet for very long as the muscles in my legs are aching. Have you ever heard of a cramping episode causing muscle or nerve damage?


    1. yes, severe muscle cramps can actually cause some muscle tearing. It's unlikely that there is nerve damage. However, you often have to treat this type of tearing the same as you would a sprain… Icing, compression, elevation, etc.

  46. I made a rookie mistake and ran a marathon recently with new compression calf sleeves. At mile 16 I suffered severe calf cramps in both legs. I had properly hydrated through out the race and stayed under 5sec/mile for my pace before this happened. I was able to finish the race but at a greatly reduced speed. After the race I compared my new sleeves with my old training ones. The new sleeves were over an inch smaller in diameter than my training sleeves. Could this have cause my cramping problem? I have run 7 marathons in the past and never cramped. The weather for the race was ideal 45-50 degrees, with no wind.

  47. I am a soccer player in Nigeria, I usually get hamstring strain. My current injury is groin, the first time I am getting groin injury. I was advised to take 7up drink and add a little salt. I have been doing that virtually everyday. I noticed something strange today after taking the mixture, hamstring strain. Please, give me a lasting solution to this recurrent injury. I’ve been to many sites and blogs to read posts about it but I haven’t been able to fit a lasting cure. Please doctor, assist me

  48. I usually only get cramps in my toes but for some reason today my hands/fingers arms, legs, toes, side, and shoulder have all been cramping up for about 6-7 hours now if I move any of those body parts they cramp up I wonder why and what to do about it I didn’t really do much today what I did do really only used my hands, and arms not toes shoulders or my side

  49. Good day to you, I am sending this message on behalf of my Spouse Bernard Sebastian, I am very concerned about the cramps he is getting frequently during the night when he sleeps, the cramps normally last for 30 mins and then it releases and after a couple of hours it comes back again, please can you advise what you suggest he does, I am very frightened, he was crying with the pain, I stood helpless by his side but I prayed and massaged from bottom of thigh to the top. He is also a Diabetic and last night after the cramp his sugar went down and he had to drink a coke to push up the sugar. God Bless.

  50. I get these ccramps a lot. My daughter went on a mission trip to Nepal and had a nausea cramp problem. The Dr there suggested two teaspoons sugar and one teaspoon salt in twelve ounces of water. It worked for her. I have used this solutation every time I have cramps and within five minutes they ease up. Its a little salty taste but not bad. Worth a try.

  51. Hi BEN thank youfor addressing this issue.

    When my friend and I are having sex, she develops cramps in her thighs and legs.

    I tell her all i know, but we also would like to hear your comments.

    Thank you in advance.


  52. hello there I get bad cramps that actually cripple me on many occasions, the effort to walk seems to enhance the cramps worsening. My doctor has tried medication including a product called ropinrole with little result. My cramps are confined to my hands and legs and every muscle in them, when I get it bad there is no escape not matter what I try to do physically . As the cramps worsen my legs experience a crawling sensation (slowly to rapid) like a bunch of spiders moving around activating various / all muscles to cramp. Additionally my joints (ankles, knees, hands and feet) move distortedly and lock up . I am in a lot of serious pain when this occurs. My hands can cramp anytime but my legs are mainly at night and it happen many time at night and on many nights but not every night. I woner if some foods are responsible and have noticed for instace I drank quite a lot of orange juice on my last social occasion can this be related to cramps? your expert advice will be really appreciated … Please advise to my email . thankyou in advance Wayne

    1. I would suggest trying the options I outlined here and if you want to go into more details or if that doesn't work feel free to book a consult at and choose 20 or 60 mins and we'll get you scheduled.

  53. I appreciate your article. I used to have leg cramps after long hikes, especially backpacking, for years, but have learned to eat a big bite of a pickle every day and haven’t had a cramp in a year now.

  54. I have been using magnesium and potassium together and drinking a lot of water and my cramps are none-stop. If I move my foot a certain way, I get a cramp. I don’t think I can drink pickle juice, because I have kidney failure and I have to stay away from salt. Can you recommend anything for me to do?

  55. I get cramps in my torso almost every day. I have narrowed it to knowing it mostly happens at the end of the day. If I sneeze, cough, or even lean forward in my car to change the radio station, it’s so bad I will almost always pull over and get out of my vehicle (if I can) to lean over my car and allow my muscles to relax…it usually only takes a minute or so but I have to be careful to not contract those muscles much or it will happen again almost immediately. I notice too that if I reach around to scratch my back or move in any way that I don’t normally move, my muscles will cramp, even muscles in my chest…I will have to take deep breaths to get them to stop the cramp. What can I do? What does this mean?

    1. Wow, that's some pretty serious cramping and it sounds like some serious thoracic mobility issues. If it were *me* the first thign I would do would be to go see a chiro to have your back mobility evaluated, assuming you've ruled out everything else I discussed in this article.

      1. it also might be cramps so if it is then just put a heating pad on where the cramp is for a couple of hours every day and see what happens

  56. I’m 84 old man with controlled diabitic. I gets cramps in my legs off and on and while sleeping at night, and it is very miserable at night as frequency of cramps is very hight and it takes lots of time to settle. Pl help.

  57. Crqmps. Man when I get then. They bend me over mainly in lower back and bqck thigh. If I dont get water in me . Within a minute or two. Im crying. Qnd when I mean bend me over. It feels like muscle contracting. Dqy or night. Its not heqt stroke. Cuase I work indoors. In the a/c. . I drink about 3 gallons of water a day. If I skip that amount. Im crying. . I eat planty of vitamins. Pickle juice is ok. But water in high qmount does the trick. Doctors. Dont know nothing. They precribe me water.dummys. . Please help.

  58. I am 50 and a regular runner. I was over weight and reduced my weight by 10 kgs. In July when I was running with my reduced weight and while fasting for 16 hours, suddenly I felt pain in my left calf. Since then I am unable to get rid of calf pain. Sometime in left calf, sometime in right calf and sometime in both.calves. I have tried all of the home remedies like stretching, warm up, cool up, changed foot wear, had rest days, applied ice, took pain killers etc etc but all in vain. I use to run 3 km ib 25 mins but this calf pain has stopped me from running,

    What should I do? I can’t think of quitting running.

  59. My husband works outside in the heat alot and today he came home with the worst cramps in his legs and hands. I gave him a banana and Gatorade and about 10 minutes later he felt so much better. What else can i do to help my husband or is/was that good?

  60. hey ben
    i have an extreme problem that never seems to get better.
    fatigue and cramps.the most recent example i went fishing sunday on the bank from 4 am to 9 am,
    when i got home and going to rest,layed over on my left elbow and my left bicep felt like it was going to cramp but didnt ,went ahead and layed down and got a cramp in the mid back.
    even though my bicep didnt cramp 3 days later and its still a little sore.
    tell me what i can try and ill try it.

    1. Have you tried the 5 steps in the article? Also check out the Aztec salt I use here: <a href="http:// h” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://h” target=”_blank”>h

      Then as far as water goes listen to where we talk about mineral rich water.

  61. Definitely going to try the pickle juice but my cramps are in wired locations. I went for a walk drink a bottle of water, washed my car drink a bottle of propel water, cut half the grass drink another bottle, finished front yard drink another bottle. When I finished the bottle and got undresses by left side under the ribs knotted to an unbelievable knotted cramp then the right side alternating back and forward lasting 5 minutes at a time. It took a long time for it to go away than I got them several more times through the day 2 bananas and a gallon of water , and 6 hours later I seem to finally be settling down.

    1. Connie, it could be many things. But check out the Aztec salt I use here: <a href="http:// h” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://h” target=”_blank”>h Then as far as water goes listen to where we talk about mineral rich water.

  62. Thanks for the article. I read many of the comments, but I am still wondering a couple things…

    Every Monday I teach a boot camp class. I try to push myself as hard as I want the participants to work. I have 1/2 hr of rest after the bootcamp class, then I go and play ultimate frisbee. Our games of frisbee are 1hr each and we often have two games back to back. This results in me having almost 3hrs of intense exercise in a 3 1/2 hr period.

    I try to drink lots of water leading up to my exercise and lots of water during exercise. I’ll often take a protein shake with BCAA’s and creatine, and eat some sort of carb, between the Boot Camp class and Ultimate frisbee games.

    Almost every week i start to cramp in my quads and hams in the final 20-30 minutes of the games. I also have intense charlie horse cramps about an hour after I’m done all the exercise. Sometimes I try to stretch my quad when it cramps, but as soon as I start to stretch my quad, my ham decides to cramp :(

    What advice could you give me on how to change what i’m currently doing and/or add so that I can avoid these horrible cramps?


    1. If you are consistently getting these cramps, addressing them before they start is a combination of proper training at intensities similar to what you'll experience during your workout, adequate mineral intake, and fascial/soft tissue integrity. Check out the Aztec salt I use here:… Then as far as water goes listen to where we talk about mineral rich water.

  63. Hello mr.ben” its been 2yrs since i had 2 spinal fusions in my neck and lower back” i have complete nerve damage from my neck down to my feet, i walk alot as directed by my doctor, my legs get weak at time’s” i recently started getting cramps in the front and side of my neck and shoulders, as well as in my side,lower back and the middle of my back” i drink alot of water,in fact” water is all i really drink” so can you give me any other suggestions on what i can do to get rid of these cramps? And do you think that because of the nerve damage that i have could be a reason for these cramps?…..

  64. im 16 and i went to the beach yesterday and swam a lot and play tackle football them i got a leg cramp that lasted more than 2-4 hours long. is that normal?

    1. Yes, especially if you were playing tackle football on sand and if you don't do these two activities frequently. You can reduce the likelihood it will happen again by not overdoing the exercise next time and staying hydrated. For treatment if it does occur again – rest, lightly stretch the muscle, and maybe drink something that tastes like salt or vinegar.

  65. My daughter is a junior tennis player who competes intensely at national level. Last year she started to have severe muscle cramps during the tournament. We had to go to ER twice because she could not move. After she got IV from ER, she was fine. They tested her urine and blood and found that everything was fine in terms of nutrition including electrolyte, magnesium, etc. Based on advices from doctors and friends of mine, we asked her to drink a lot with electrolyte tablets. However, it does not seem to help her. Your article helps me to understand why she has such bad cramps despite the fact that she drank a lot with other supplements. I have a few questions for you: 1. Does mental anxiety also contribute muscle cramp? she seems to have cramps when she really wants to win the match even if the duration of the match is short. 2. How to relax or prevent muscle fatigue if you have to practice regularly (intensively about fours hours a day) and have regular tournaments. It is hard to find time to relax muscle. Is it better to reduce training time, especially before the tournament? But that is counterintuitive. Right? Less training before the important tournament? I am a little confused now. In addition, is that helpful to use a chiropractor or sport massage therapy? Probably you may not be able to answer all theses questions, but if you give us good reference books or articles, we will greatly appreciate that. Again thank you for your article. Concerned dad.

    1. Two things here:

      1) Consider the fact that this may not be cramps. It may be compartment syndrome. Do a search for compartment syndrome here are BenGreenfieldFitness to find out more about that.

      2) To really delve into this in great detail, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to… and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. We can schedule you and her ASAP after you get that.

  66. I have server cramps all over my body I can twist around and get a cramp. I can’t sleep at night because every 2 to.3 hrs once I’m in bed I have cramps, it switches from my left thigh to my right thigh I can sneeze and I will get a cramp on the side of my stomach, my side it’s so painful I can feel it in my heart, I can’t stand up straight until it passes.I don’t know what to take. Please!!!! Please!!!! Help me I’m afraid to go to sleep at night

  67. Some interesting ideas, my background is that I have had night cramps in my calves and occasionally feet and shins for as long as I can remember. The cramps usually go away if I jump out of bed and stand or lightly stretch but not always. My calves are constantly twitching throughout the day although I don’t feel it you can see them moving. For this reason I thought I would just have to live with it as it comes and goes sometimes with gaps of days or weeks. When the attacks are really bad and it is both legs I can hardly walk, if this happens I find having a lemon or orange with Celtic sea salt usually prevents it for the rest of the night. Hope that helps, and wish it stopped all together, BTW I have noticed that if I skip gym cycling for a few days it appears to increase not subside, need to log this.

    Great show Ben and of course Brock, listen to every one and is constantly entertaining and informative, never gets old, thanks,

  68. My daughter is a competitive cheerleader and came home from practice with severe leg cramps, eventually they went away but today she feels pain, muscle soreness in her legs. She has practice again tonight and it can be intense with tumbling passes that she needs her leg strength. What do you recommend for her preparation for practice tonight, I want to prevent a secondary injury from occurring.
    Would a hot bath with Epsom salt help?

  69. ive been having problemds with cramping all over. even fingers and toes. I play sports and lift weinghts,. the day before I do intake lots of fluids such as water and Gatorade and aslo the day of. I stretch about 5-10 mins depending on the feel. regardless of the amount of liquid I take that day I STILL cramp! and bad cramps too that could lead to hospitalization. I was notified once that I lack potassium. I have been taking potassium pills and it doesn't sill work for me. HELP PLEASE!

  70. i actually have a question. When I walk I get cramping in my right calf. Usually I can get about 2 miles in before it starts. Just before it starts I get a weak/fatigued sensation in my calf followed by immediate cramp. Very painful. What is baffling me it that it usually lasts about 1 – 1.5 miles and then I walk out of it. I work out 5 – 6 times a week doing cardio (spin classes) and weight (pump classes) and work myself really hard and never get calf cramping….only when I walk Any ideas of what I can do to make them stop? I can’t walk near as fast as I used to or the cramping starts a lot sooner, really taking the joy out of my walks. Would love some advice. Thanks!

  71. I know i dont get enough rest etc etc etc…my only question out of curiosity is my body fat level. Can having little to no body fat make me cramp easier and faster. Ive been moving furniture for 20 years now, pretty much gave up exercising since my job is a workout but my muscles are extremely tight and hard and people have been telling me thats a big reason why.

  72. I’m not a runner or althelic of any kind. I’m a working man,a mechanic by trade. I work a full time job and a part time job. I have COPD,enyphasema, and high blood pressure. I have 3 different inhalers and take bis topic for the bp. I take magnesium tablet and potassium tablet. I get cramps anytime day or night. I haven’t slept a whole 6 hrs straight thru the night in a very long time.last time (4 wks ago) I had a physical all my blood work was good. When I cramp up hands,fingers,thighs,calves, no amount of stretching helps. I can barely stand to put weight on to leave the bed at night. I rub my area that is cramping but can’t keep it up. What do u suggest?

  73. What medical specialist should I go to for more help defining why I continue to frequently experience muscle cramps with most any exercise. Even simple yard work. Often after the exercise…as heart rate slows. Cooler temperatures seem to make it worse too. I'm no athlete. Never have been. At almost 69 YO I just want to stay active and on my feet. I'm not pushing my limits. But my limits are infringing upon my lifestyle….and accelerating my aging process.

  74. I work at a job where I sweat for 12 hours a day. I drink loads of water but when I get home at night to relax, I get inner thigh cramps that hurt so bad I almost pass out and then I’m extremely sore for 3 to 5 days. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

    1. Does your job involve any repetitive motion or static contractions, specifically involving your inner thighs? Perhaps you need to “1. Train specifically for your race” but in your case substitute ‘race’ for ‘work’.

  75. I have been training for a 200 mile cycling event for 3 months now. Until 2 weeks ago, I had been on a low carb diet for 5 months. Exactly 1 week ago, I was a mile into a flat ride, taking it easy, when my hip flexors, quads, and glutes in both legs cramped. It was so bad I couldn't even walk home. Since then, every day, when I've attempted to bike or even walk more than around the house, I get cramps in my legs. It's never been like this before, and now it's every day. The only way to make them stop is to cease all movement. I've been using Natural Calm and epsom salt baths for 6 days with no relief. My ride is in 2 weeks, and I'm exceedingly bummed! Help? Thanks!

    1. Treat it like scar tissue and an area of hypoxia. Mobilize the tissue. Deep connective tissue work and work on fascial adhesions. Use topical magnesium lotion. Strength it vigorously post foam rolling and deep tissue worko. I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to… and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. We can schedule ASAP after you get that.

      1. Just a follow up to my comment. Saw my GP and had some bloodwork done. My electrolytes were normal but my CK level at 7000 meant rhabdomyolysis. His advice was to avoid vigorous exercise and recheck in a week. I'm still cramping with exercise

    2. Hey Dalaimamot did you ever get this figured out? I'm having the same problem and would love an update from you

  76. Ben, you are generating great debate and comments on electrolyte replacement and muscle cramps.

    What are your actual thoughts on the supplement market. I care for patients who suffer from muscle cramps due to their use of medications that flush electrolytes from their bodies. They drink in excess of 3 litres of water a day

    I have been looking into natural solutions and have found a few. The latest I have recommended is a product called Recovery e21

    Do you have any other products you would recommend me to look into?

  77. ben… im am a 61 yr old male who competes at an elite level in spartan obstacle course races.

    this past weekend i experienced debilitating continual lower body cramping about 90 minutes into what should have been for me a 3 hour race, but resulted in nearly 4.5 hours. the race day was not overly hot and based on my urine clor post race, i was not excessively dehydrated.

    previous shorter distance races have produced a lesser degree of cramping, but all beginning at about the 90 minute mark

    i read the comment above about low glycogen and a low carb diet.

    my reg diet would be considered quite low card.

    can you talk more about this angle on cramping and whether that might be my problem, or other potential causes

  78. I'm doing it right!!!

    I get SOOOO teased at work for drinking pickle juice every day. Nordic skiing all day, 8-13 miles a day, I found it seriously helps. along with water, and Pigeon stretches. The winter before this year, I was in so much pain from tight muscles, I was desperate to try anything. I found pigeon to be my saving grace this winter. My student athletes call it "Coach's Stretch"

    Lesson learned!!!! Do NOT drink more than a shot-or-so of it. If you overdo it, you swell too much, causing more pain.

  79. I'm doing it right!!!

    I get SOOOO teased at work for drinking pickle juice every day (Nordic skiing all day, I found it seriously helps. along with water, and dynamic/static Pigeon stretches)

    Lesson learned though!!!! Do NOT drink more than a shot of it. if you overdo it, you swell too much.

  80. I am 75 yrs old. Obese, diabetic,fibromyalgia, asthma,

    Please help me . My life is a living hell. I do have some ruptured discs which I have had for yrs.

    I have these horrible cramps. They are in my hands my feet, calves like horrible charlie horses, thighs, I usually get them every day for hours and hrs. After they finally go away where I had them hurts like I was beat up.

    I have taken tonic water with quinine,Old Amish formula,Hylands leg cramp pills I also sent away for. took potassium until blood tests came back on the high side.

    I am taking slow Magnesium 5 times what I should be taking. They seem to help with the intensity of it. pickle juice, vinegar. I drink all the time as the prescription medication I take makes me so thirsty. I was drinking green tea and I loved it but I noticed it ran right through me and my fingers were shriveled up. had to stop. when I take slow magnesium my fingers plump up , but I still have them every day. This winter I was very sick with bronchitis and did not get up only to potty and I did not have any cramps. I cannot lay in bed every day as I am a widow and all alone. I have no quality of life, I am so depressed over this. I get in the car my hands curl up,toes curl up, foot turns in . I cannot drive that way nor walk. can’t even come home and lay down due to the severe pain I deal with,

    Is there anything I can do????? Please help me. My Dr. doesn’t know what to do except told me I am taking too much magnesium. I want so badly to be able to have a more normal life.

    Thank you for your assistance in this most troubling matter.

    Sincerely ,

    Beverly Holmes

    1. Beverly, I'm not a doctor, and it sounds to me like you're in a stage where you could really use a doc's help. Here are a few directories that may help you find a good functional medicine or naturopathic practitioner in your area:


  81. Hi Ben, good content. I'm 58 years of age and have alway's suffered cramps, usually only in a mild form. Long story short, been road bike cycling now for three years, in first three years only had a couple of cramps, last 6 months have had 2 very severe leg cramps at end of 40ml + rides, tried everything, more fluid, salt, magnsium, pottasium, electrolyte tablets, etc, etc, nothing stops it coming on or going. I did find a tip on the web, dissolve teaspoon of sugar in mouth when cramping and they will go away, i very much doubted this would work, but had cause to use this yesterday (30/03/2014) within 30secs of going in mouth, cramp totally went away and I was able to continue normally with ride. Can you tell me any reason this worked. Regards, Phil

    1. Glycogen depletion can cause cramping in people on very low carb diet, so that could be part of this. Also, recently LAVA magazine May 2014 issue had EXCELLENT ARTICLE on cramping…

  82. It has been 1 year now since I began to have unusual leg cramps. Prevention is key with 3 large glasses of water daily. I have had them in both legs lasting 45 minutes, hanging onto the bathroom sink as hard as I could as to not be pulled over backwards and drinking as much water as possible. Thank you for the pickle juice suggestion, I will try this. I have tried to narrow down food causes such as msg, coffee, wine, but have not been successful. So far water is the only prevention that has worked at the first sign of a cramp usually fingers or toes. Has anyone looked at this from a food trigger?

  83. I don’t know why I get cramps every time I take medication for any illness. I get cramps all over from my body. I was not experiencing this in my early teens or early and mid 20s but I started getting cramps into my late 20s till now. My too scared to get any medication but an hour after taking medication, I start to have cramps all over for the next 2-3 days. Is there a remedy for these?

  84. Great article, thanks for sharing. I play a field sport similar to NFL and get a lot of calf cramps during matches (never in training). I have tried many different approaches but none of them have remedied the problem. I am now planning to try the Pickle Juice. Is this something i should take once my calfs start to cramp, or should i take it as a prevantive measure even before the game starts? I am unsure as many articles say it stops cramping instantly but usually when my calfs start cramping they simply dont stop. Also, would beetroot juice be a viable alternative?

    1. For pickle juice, you'd take it right when the cramps start. Beetjuice wouldn't really do anything in this regard.

      Addressing cramping BEFORE it stars is a combination of proper training at intensities similar to what you'll experience during game, adequate mineral intake, and fascial/soft tissue integrity.

  85. Greetings. My calves cramp up extremely easily when flexing. I strained one really bad jumping rope. I’ hadn’t jumped in a long time. Now I keep re-injuring it cuz when I do anything. It strains again. Is it just lack of fitness in the legs? I can’t make any gains since I re injury something every couple months. I rest and take it easy. First day jumping rope everything is fine. By the second time. One seizes up and I’m incapacitated again. Been fighting it over a year.

  86. I have a 15 year old daughter who has scoliosis – 3 curves. The scoliosis is not severe, but is there none the less. She is a varsity volleyball and basketball player who can get through volleyball without a ton of cramping in her back, but basketball is a completely different story. She'll get cramping under her rib cage that radiates up to her shoulders, cramp between her shoulder blades too, but the worst is the cramping she gets in her lower back…so much so that she shakes from the pain to the point of nausea. She'll go from tears on the sidelines and then within 15 minutes, will be better and out playing again. There will be several stints like this during the game. We are going back to the Orthopedic Dr soon, but my question is….is this scoliosis related? weak muscle related? or something else? We have had blood work done and know that she is low in sodium. We've tried pickle juice, Metagenics Endura (medical electrolite drink), massage, heat, ice, chiropractic, and strengthening. I just don't want her to hurt when she plays. Her goal is to play college volleyball so I need to figure out what to do to help her. I'll await your reply…

    1. Probably scoliosis related because as certain muscles are shortened or lengthened, they'll cramp, spasm, etc. and no amount of nutrition will help that as much as assistance with scoliosis through the use of things like Core Foundation Training, Gokhale Method, etc. Especially check out

  87. I’ve just had thigh cramps so bad I went to the floor in pain. I was getting up from an hour or so in a recliner. I’m on a low sodium diet less than 1800 mg/day and diuretic for Endolylmphatic Hydrops

    (Ear fluid imbalance). Lately have

    cramps in my insteps at night. Any ideas?

  88. I’m plagued with inside thigh cramps following a hard run or ride. Very painful spasms will last for 10 minutes or more. I’ve tried everything to no avail.

    1. The fastest way to get your body to stop cramping is get a towel put it under hot water and wrap the area that it cramping. I find the warmth stops the craping at once.

  89. Ben,

    Great article!…I have also read that using mustard packets also helps with cramping….does any of your research support this?….

  90. I am a 13x ironman(4x kona) 52 yr old woman. I have never cramped during race on either bike or run but I cramp when I swim. Pushing off the wall,using fins or pull buoy. Toes,feet and or calves. ESP if fatigued(but notnalways) I’m a hs and college, ocean lifeguard swimmer with flexible ankles and a strong kick. Ay ideas to avoid cramping?

    1. That's tight calves. Do a rrapload of foam rolling, mobility work and stretching on your calves and feet and within 10-12 months of consistent fascial work you will reinvent that tissue.

  91. Hi Ben, love the podcast, appreciate all the things you share–blown away with all you do. I have suffered from cramps since I was in my 20's (45 now). I've had many different things work at different times. Back when I ran a lot, I was able to deal with calf cramps by eating a banana. At one point in the 90's I was taking Ripped fuel with ephedrine and lifting a lot. Had issues with stomach cramps–that's the worst pain. Today, I'm into things like cycling, elliptical, rowing, lifting, etc. I'm on a ketogenic diet and if I drop my carbs too low, I get dehydrated and can have night cramps. Since reading all of this, I've added mineral supplements to regimen (potassium, salt, natural calm, etc.) when I feel I'm starting to have issues with hydration. That seems to help in a general sense. Not necessarily for an acute incident like I had after a bike ride recently. Drank so much water and sports drinks and still had whole body cramping–miserable.

    So here's my question/comment: I drink a lot of water, and get the trace minerals, but can still get dehydrated. I believe the issue is actually cellular hydration since I'm drinking plenty of water. If cellular hydration is the issue, do you think creatine would help with this?

  92. i get muscle cramps all the time, in thighs, calfs, back, stomach, and hands esp. I can only contribute it to dehydration, I’ve had Magnesium, calcium, and potassium level checked and all have been fine. Any advice!

    1. I had before cramps, but after started drinking salt water and all is fine now. I mix clean water with himalaian salt and vitamin C powder also. Try this.

  93. Hi Ben!

    Thanks for the post. Cramps plague me during long runs and I have never had much success with salt tablets. Is it possible that the acid in pickle juice and not the salt is responsible for relief? Do you know of any study using alkalinizing foods for cramp relief or prevention? Cheers,


  94. Thanks for the article. I was thinking of asking you about this. It seems the solution to every ultra-running problem is salt tablets.

    In addition to cramps while racing, I get nauseous. Besides more training, which is hard to do while in the middle of a race, is the best solution to slow down and wait for the nausea to pass (either through time or more disgusting ways)?

    If I ask my running coach (aka Google), the solution is salt tablets.

    Thanks for the timely article!


  95. Nice article. I appreciate the condensed research. You stopped too soon tho — it doesn’t help me understand why I get muscle cramps (foot and calf) in the middle of the night. (Wakes me from from a dead sleep) I’ve had high calibre advice pointing out that my stretching sucked, and my salts were low, esp. Mg. Even had an angel send me some slow release Mg which is not readily available in my corner. Improvements in stretching, salt & hydration have tempered it. In the heat of the summer I use an electrolyte solution without sugar, and in the winter use the Attia bouillion tip instead. Nearly 2 yrs of tweaking has not eliminated them yet. As I’m typing right now I see a 2010 article link in a comment above. LOL I’ll go there next.

      1. This is an excellent reply. I will try the Orotate and respond. Thanx for a great suggestion since my entire body cramps just from twisting or trying to lie down. I do have nerve damage and my MD says that is the cause, but i have been cramping since before the disease.

    1. A long out-of-date reply:

      I have to take water tablets for heart failure. I have a 4 wire CID fitted.

      I suffered severe body & leg & arm cramps. Pain clinic offered Tonic Water – 2 litres per day. Some relief apparent. GP suggested electrolytes depleted – recommended Magnesium. No improvement. Discovered MAGNESIUM OROTATE. 500mg 3 times per day – after a week – no cramps. Apparently straight magnesium was flushed out with water tablets. Straight magnesium was tried with no beneficial results. MAGNESIUM OROTATE is quickly absorbed into cells and is NOT flushed out and worked beneficially within 3 days. The UK National Health DOES NOT have MAGNESIUM OROTATE on its list of prescribed medicines – only magnesium.

      MAGNESIUM OROTATE works. When stopped, as a test, the cramps returned. I suggest MAGNESIUM OROTATE (purchased privately) is a way to relieve body, leg & extremities pains which occurred in middle of night and early mornings. Pain very severe.

      I hope this info is of benefit to someone.

      1. There is no supplement that is straight magnesium. Magnesium is a silvery metal that gives off a bright white light when burned. All magnesium supplements are some compound of magnesium reacted with a non-metal, such as magnesium oxide, magnesium carbonate, magnesium sulfate, etc. Magnesium orotate is one of those compounds cleverly disguised with a more proprietary name to hide the actual chemical compound. I have had success using magnesium supplements to treat night cramps. A home recipe for a sports drink that truly helps with cramping is honey, vinegar and water. 1 cup honey, one cup apple cider vinegar and one gallon hot water. Mix until honey is dissolved and serve cold or hot.

  96. Is there any research that suggests cause (& cure) for nighttime cramping (usually near morning)? This has become a real problem for me.

    1. I get cramps all over when I go catabolic all so it is match worse if I take clen I can do legs &get cramp in any part of my body.same proublm with high frag or just get a good workout.

  97. Nice article.

    I've actually use bouillon during some longer cycling tours and that seems to work pretty well, in combination with eating some reat food of course. It took a few tries to get the mix right and the first time it was pretty gross…like drinking soup during a bike ride but it beats sugar water.

    I actually got the bouillon tip from Peter Attia to be honest.

    1. Try taking Usana. Google it. My mom who is 68 years old who also has the same problem as yours. Its a cellular vitamin (not medicine). She takes it twice a day and after 10 days….no more cramps in the middle of the night.

  98. Hi Ben! I am a Nutritionist and Triathlon Coach with Morris at the Playtri Performance Center in Dallas. Your article makes a ton of sense, but 1 question: are you insinuating that additional electrolytes (Nuun, Salt Tabs, etc) are not necessary? – water is enough? Thanks so much!!

    1. look up “insinuate.” A friendly suggestion, for instance, I’m not goin, better, I’m not going, etc. Insinuate is caustic, unfriendly, and combative. You didn’t mean it that way I’m sure. Am I a twit? No, I’m amused since I spent half my life using the wrong words though the right intentions, it was confusing to those who didn’t know me, those who did would gently correct me, mainly my wife who insisted grammar was important. However, since I have three children who were and one still is, athletes, one was sponsored by Nike, the other two ran marathons and did cycling in Madrid, the latter during the reign of Lance Armstrong. He quit because he wasn’t going to use drugs to be something he wasn’t. My interest in the cramp thing? I cramp but recently did a two mile (1.7) mountain climb thing, 1.7 up and 1.7 down and oddly it was the down that did the most damage. I quit excess salt and water retention went away but cramping did not. What do I need? Rest, a balanced diet, no processed or junk food, and get the hydration right.

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