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BY DR. ARNAN SISSON
October 16, 2023
We see a good bit of folks that come into the practice with back pain. It could even be pain that radiates down all the way to the foot. But would you believe that sometimes their 10/10 leg pain at night actually isn’t coming from the back? Often, folks with or without back pain get muscle cramps or spasms that can strike late into the night. It's an awful feeling, and it throws them out of a good night’s rest. The good news though is that they're easy to fix if you follow just a few tips.
If you suspect you're having some muscle cramps, you can try the tips below. If they seem to not affect the pain then it's likely it could either be sciatica coming from the back or from some other factors (medication, etc.).
The first tip would be to hydrate! Very often lack of water coming in throughout the day can lead to extreme muscle spasms. I’d recommend using your body to guide you. Whenever you're thirsty make sure you have water close by to drink. But for a few folks, this doesn’t work, and in those cases where you're not thirsty it would be smart to try 8 glasses a day. That’s the standard recommended amount from the Mayo Clinic.
The second tip would be to apply a good 1-2 long stretch to the biggest culprits of spasm (hamstring muscles, calf muscles). Feel free to head over to montrossphysicaltherapy.com to get loads of free articles & videos where I cover those particular stretches.
The third tip would be to apply some massage to the affected area. By placing pressure on spastic muscles, they reflexively relax after a minute or so. You can just use your fingers to do some moderately intense massage or if your body can handle it, use a tennis ball to produce more pressure. The important thing to remember here is to not massage too long, 1 minute or so is enough. And to not produce excessive amounts of pain, 3-5/10 pain should do the trick.
The fourth and final tip would be to simply stand up. I recommend this mainly due to past cases. It seems that when past clients put some weight on top of the spastic muscles they seemed to relax. So, after chugging some water and getting some massage and stretching done. It may be wise to stand up and walk it out.
That’s it for today, everyone, remember movement is medicine!
P.S. If you’ve tried all the tips above for a few days without relief then click here to download our free 13-step back pain checklist. It covers quick and easy modifications you can make at work or home to fix sciatica!