Cause of calf cramps: The best tips and tricks

Ursache von Wadenkrämpfen: Die besten Tipps und Tricks

A calf cramp is a painful matter and we often underestimate it. The reasons for leg cramps can vary greatly and differ from person to person.

In our large calf cramp guide, we will give you the various causes, explain when you should see a doctor and also uncover some myths that often arise about calf cramps.

the essentials in brief

  • In the case of a calf cramp, the muscle should be stretched immediately afterwards to reduce the pain and relieve the cramp.
  • Magnesium deficiency is the most common cause of muscle and calf cramps, but plenty of calcium, potassium and sodium should also be consumed.
  • In the case of cramps, a distinction is made between symptomatic and paraphysiological muscle cramps.

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Definition: What are calf cramps?

A calf cramp is a painful contraction in the muscle area of ​​the lower leg. The cramp usually occurs involuntarily and usually only lasts for a very short time. (8th)

In the event of a sudden calf cramp, the muscle should be stretched immediately. Many people instinctively do the right thing and stretch the lower leg muscle immediately after the cramp.

Stretching is one measure that helps immediately after the cramp. Furthermore, there are many other measures that can be taken in advance to avoid a calf cramp in the first place. This includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Elderly people, athletes and pregnant women struggle with calf cramps more often than others. As a result, these people should be particularly aware of the causes and background of calf cramps. (9.10)

Background: What you should know about the cause of calf cramps

Leg cramps can be very painful and involuntary, but the cramps can be avoided. This article tells you everything you need to know about leg cramps.

Why do calf cramps occur in the first place?

Calf cramps come on very suddenly and fortunately the pain goes away very quickly. But what are the causes of calf cramps?

The most common cause of calf cramps is a lack of magnesium. (2) Magnesium should be taken daily and can be taken through regular diet or taken as supplements through capsules and powders.

In addition, leg cramps can be a symptom of dehydration. The human body loses a lot of water due to a lack of fluid intake. This can cause sudden muscle cramps and especially calf cramps. (4)

Disorders of the hormonal balance and metabolism can also lead to cramps. Calcium, potassium and sodium deficiencies are common.

How can I prevent calf cramps?

You can already pay attention to various things in everyday life to prevent calf cramps. Stress is a factor. Due to a lot of stress, the body loses magnesium, which in turn can result in possible calf cramps.

Shoes with high heels increase the risk of calf cramps.

Regular, moderate exercise also helps against cramps. By moving and straining the muscles, cramps in the muscles are prevented. (1)

Furthermore, a massage or loosening up the legs has a positive effect on the muscles and can prevent possible calf cramps. Regular stretching of the muscles can also prevent calf cramps. (5)

For women, shoe choice can also be a factor. Anyone who likes to wear shoes with high heels also increases the risk of getting calf cramps because the muscles are unnaturally strained.

What tools can I take to prevent calf cramps?

There are many aids on the market that are intended to help against muscle cramps or specifically against calf cramps. However, aids should be individually adapted to a person.

Aids are often associated with medication, but there is an easy way to prevent cramps with aids. One example is compression stockings, which exert a certain amount of pressure on the calves or legs, making it easier for blood to be transported in the veins.

Magnesium is also an important aid in combating calf cramps. Magnesium can be taken in the form of capsules, tablets or powder. (7)

Furthermore, the electrolyte balance should always be balanced. Calcium, potassium and sodium should therefore be consumed daily to rule out a possible deficiency. (6)

How often should aids against calf cramps be taken?

Magnesium is considered to be the most important aid against calf cramps. It is therefore essential to ensure that daily needs are covered.

The following table shows how high the magnesium requirement is for adult women and men:

person magnesium requirement
adult women 300 mg/day
grown men 350 mg/day

But not only magnesium is extremely important for the body and the prevention of fights, also sodium, potassium and calcium play an important role.

Due to sweat and excreta, the human body loses salts and minerals every day, which must be replaced.

The following table shows which minerals are contained in which foods:

mineral Contained in...
sodium table salt
potassium Tomatoes, dried apricots, orange juice
calcium milk, yogurt, banana
magnesium Whole Grain, Mineral Water, Nuts

When it comes to nutrition, care should be taken to replace the lost minerals extensively with food so that the muscles in the body are fully functional.

Where do leg cramps come from at night?

Nocturnal calf cramps can be very painful and very annoying at the same time.

The causes of calf cramps at night are comparable to calf cramps, which can also occur during the day. Poor diet, muscle overload or dehydration and electrolyte imbalances such as magnesium deficiency are common causes of sudden cramps during the night. (3)

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A daily walk can prevent calf cramps, since regular and moderate exercise supports blood circulation. (Image source: Arek Adeoye / unsplash)

Daily stretching exercises of calf muscles can prevent and prevent nocturnal calf cramps. Regular and moderate exercise, such as going for a walk, is also helpful.

When should I see a doctor for leg cramps?

Basically, calf cramps are harmless and the pain subsides relatively quickly. Nevertheless, visits to the doctor cannot be avoided in certain cases.

If calf cramps occur repeatedly or disrupt your night's sleep or daily routine, you should see a doctor. The family doctor can help and provide explanations for the causes and recommend possible treatments.


If calf cramps occur repeatedly, you should definitely consult your family doctor to find out the cause. (Image source: Online Marketing / unsplash)

They should also see their GP if simple stretching or a gentle massage doesn't relieve the pain of the leg cramp.

Cause of calf cramps: The best tips & tricks against calf cramps

As already mentioned above, calf cramps are caused by different reasons. A distinction is made between two different types of cramps, symptomatic and paraphysiological muscle cramps.

Symptomatic muscle cramps

Symptomatic muscle spasms include spasms that are a symptom of a disease or a side effect of medication.

One example is nerve disorders, as nerves can also be responsible for uncontrolled spasms in muscles. The nervous system transmits stimuli to the muscles and is responsible for the impulse for tensing muscles. Therefore, a disorder can lead to very painful muscle spasms.

  • Symptomatic muscle spasms are rare
  • Very painful muscle spasms
  • side effect of medication
  • In addition, symptomatic muscle spasms can be caused by the side effects of medication. These should be taken seriously and in the best case a doctor should be consulted.

    Paraphysiological muscle spasms

    Paraphysiological muscle spasms include spasms triggered by external causes. These include, for example, sporting overload or magnesium deficiency.

    Overloading during sport is very common, since there is a constant alternation between tension and relaxation during sport. This puts extreme strain on the muscle and often leads to muscle cramps.

    Basically, the more trained a muscle is, the less likely it is that it will cramp due to physical exertion.

    Especially for people who sit in the office all day during the day, even light sporting activities help. This requires muscles that are otherwise not used and muscle cramps can be prevented.

    • Paraphysiological calf cramps are rather harmless
    • The cause can be found comparatively easily
  • Cramps are often underestimated and not resolved
  • Another cause of paraphysiological muscle cramps is a disturbed electrolyte balance. These include magnesium deficiency as well as calcium, potassium and sodium deficiency.

    The body loses important minerals when sweating, so when it comes to athletes and high temperatures, care should be taken to ensure that the minerals are supplied to the body in some other way.


    As a rule, sudden calf cramps are harmless and stretching exercises are usually enough to relieve the pain. However, in the case of repeated cramps, the cause should definitely be found and, if necessary, the family doctor should be consulted.

    While there is no simple solution to completely avoiding leg cramps, light exercise and regular stretching can help prevent muscle cramps.


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