The weather of this summer has been nothing but usual: record-breaking burning hot days, and non-stop rain with high humidity forecasted for the next few weeks. These crazy weather patterns seem to be universal all around the globe. Our precious Heart, which has been under so much stress due to an extremely volatile and chaotic energy surrounding this planet, is the most vulnerable during the summer months. Chinese medicine considers Ming Mu beans as one of the most effective remedy in protecting our heart during the summer season.
To deal with leg cramps that do not respond well to those lighter version remedies, here are a few things you can try.
- Soak your feet in hot water mixed with epsom salt for 20 minutes. Fill hot (lukewarm rarely works) water in a basin big enough to hold both feet, then add ½ cup of epsom salt. Water level has to be high enough to cover the ankles. Put your feet into the basin, regardless how hot the water initially feels. With heat, all six meridians running on your feet– kidneys, liver, spleen, stomach, gallbladder, and bladder–start to open up and Qi and blood flow into the areas of blockage. Chinese medicine regards every single disorder, including leg cramps, as stagnation of Qi and blood flow. Approximately 20 minutes later, you will feel warm and tingly sensation in the lower half of the body.
(Note: Our feet have the most and largest pores of the body, therefore with salt will not only draws toxins out of the body, the body absorbs the magnesium in epsom salts. This method effectively deals with chronic arthritis in the feet and ankles, plantar fasciitis, achilles heel tendonitis, and even toenail fungus infections.)
- After the foot bath, make a fist and rub on the center of the soles.
3. Press and knead on the following points: Taixi (KD3), Kun Lun (BL60), Cheng Shan (BL57), Yang Ling Quan(GB 34), Zu San Li (ST36). Use the thumb to knead forcefully on each point for 30 seconds.
- Squeeze and roll the calf muscles with both hands, begin at the ankle and move gradually upwards, for 2 minutes.
The above is suggested to be a routine before sleep. You can try one or more of the above remedies to find out to which protocols your body reacts most favorably. In a few days, most of your leg cramps will be eliminated.
Chronic and persistent leg cramps usually indicate serious internal orders, most notably pre-diabetic conditions or active diabetes. Please pay attention to your sugar consumptions, and other lifestyle or diet changes.
Most leg cramps respond to gentle massaging and stretching. However, since different people may be relieved in different ways, you have to try and find out what works best for your muscle cramps. For calf cramps, you can try as below:
- Immediately stand on the legs, lean forward gently to stretch the contracted muscle, hold on until the cramp goes away.
- Sit up, straighten the leg and flex the foot. This can be helped by placing a rolled towel under the ball of the foot, hold the towel at both ends, and gently pull the towel toward the head while keeping the knee straight. Hold in this position until the cramp is gone completely.
3. If you can find someone to help, then sit down and straighten the leg, let the helper hold the foot, raise the leg and flex the foot gently toward you. Remember to keep the knee straight.
4.When leg cramps happen during swimming, try to remain calm, hold the toes and raise them toward the chin. Pinch or bit the upper lip can help calm down if necessary.
5.Walk around or jiggle the legs.
6. Rub around the affected muscles.
Leg cramps are sudden and painful. They often occur when the body is at rest, typically during sleep. The muscle cramps can last for a few seconds or up to several minutes. Leg cramps, commonly referred to as charley horses, occur when muscles in the legs contract involuntarily. Muscle groups that mostly involved in leg cramps are calf (back of the lower leg), hamstrings (back of the thigh) and quadriceps (front of the thigh). Some people experience cramps even in their feet, sometimes on their toes.
What Causes Leg Cramps
Leg cramps are common, many people experience it occasionally, elderly people and pregnant women have a higher risk to develop the problem. The cause of leg cramps is not well understood, it may be associated with following factors:
- Exercising, injury and overuse of muscles
- Exposure to cold weather, especially to cold water
- Improper posture of standing or sitting for long periods
- Dehydration of the body, especially in hot weather
- Poor blood flow in the legs (blood vessels narrowing in the legs)
- Electrolyte imbalance or mineral deficiencies, particularly calcium and magnesium
- Medications such as diuretics, statins, lithium, prednisone and nicotinic acid
- Health conditions, such as diabetes, kidney disorder, liver cirrhosis, alcoholism, and/or hypothyroidism.
Personally, I experience leg cramps after I dance in 3-inch spikes for many hours. Obviously, I should refrain from wearing those highheels or dancing too much. At this point, I can’t give up either. Here are a few things I do to prevent and/or deal with leg cramps.
Years ago when I was attending a Chinese medical school, a noted medical scholar from China proclaimed that aluminum foil often produce amazing results in treating pain syndromes, from lower back pain to a gout pain on the toes. I’ve completely forgot about it until few weeks ago when a patient asked whether there’s anything she could do at home in relieving a horrendous elbow pain. I told her to cover the elbow with foil. She reported that pain was reduced significantly after three days. Very much intrigued, I urged a patient with ear pain to cover the painful area with foil. Again, the results were impressive. Although tin foil doesn’t get rid of pain totally, it sure looks like a wonderful tool in dealing with all kinds of pain, from head to toe.
Kidney 1 (YongQuan — Gushing Spring)
On sole, in depression with foot in plantar flexion, at the junction of the anterior 1/3 and posterior 2/3 of line connecting base of the 2nd and 3rd toes with the heel.
Massage this point with a moderate to strong pressure for 1-2 minutes.
Shi Mian (Extra Point)
On sole, counter balancing point of Kidney 1. Massage this point for one of two minutes after massaging Kidney 1.
Both can be painful in the beginning, however, pain will subside and warm/hot feelings are likely to emerge.
Massaging around the heel and calf muscles
Wherever there is pain, gently massage those areas with a moderate pressure, while making sure that deep knots in the calf muscles are relaxed.
One of the most effective treatment for plantar fasciitis is: A Foot Bath With Ginger.
Soaking the foot in hot water, mixed with freshly-ground ginger, is a well known therapy in Asia.
Putting your aching foot in ginger-infused hot water for about 10 minutes will accelerate blood flow, while dissolving “dead blood” stuck in the heel and the bottom of the foot. This method is equally effective in treating broken toes.
Epsom salt can be added in lieu of ginger, however, ginger is proved to be far more effective.