Calf cramps despite magnesium: The best tips & tricks for relief

Wadenkrämpfe trotz Magnesium: Die besten Tipps & Tricks zur Linderung

It is a common misconception that a sufficient supply of magnesium is sufficient to avoid annoying calf cramps. Calf cramps can also occur despite magnesium. Because there are other causes for the occurrence of painful cramps in the lower leg. Anyone who frequently suffers from calf cramps despite taking magnesium should consider a visit to the doctor. Illnesses or the use of medication can also be responsible for the unpleasant calf cramps.

In order to show you the potential further causes, we have put together the most important information in this article. In the course of this you will find out what the unpleasant muscle cramps in the lower leg can be attributed to. In the following, we will give you helpful tips and tricks that you can use to prevent or help yourself when calf cramps occur.

the essentials in brief

  • The most well-known cause of calf cramps is a magnesium deficiency. What many do not know: Disturbed muscle contractions can also occur despite a balanced magnesium household.
  • Leg cramps fall into three different categories: paraphysiological, symptomatic, and idiopathic. This classification can provide information about possible causes of cramps in the lower leg.
  • Normally, calf cramps are harmless and can be largely avoided by paying attention to a few factors. However, if disturbed muscle contractions occur more frequently, the problem should be investigated more closely. Medical examinations can detect diseases or side effects of medication.

get rid of cramps!

Try our liposomal magnesium now

  • Enriched with zinc, selenium, chromium and taurine 🧪
  • Developed for people who often suffer from cramps 💪
  • Get a 21% discount now 💰*

Sunt Icon

*The discount is automatically applied to the product

Background: What you should know about calf cramps despite sufficient magnesium intake

Below you will find the most important background information that should contribute to a better understanding of the occurrence of calf cramps. Because in Germany around 40 percent suffer from occasional calf cramps. However, most people are unaware of the importance of having leg cramps when they become a regular complaint.

How do calf cramps develop?

Normally, the process of muscle movement takes place in two phases. After a phase of tension, there is always a phase of relaxation. These two periods are also called contraction and relaxation. However, in the case of a calf cramp, the process is disrupted. The alternation between the phases of muscle contraction does not work as usual.

Individual muscles or entire muscle groups in the lower leg suddenly contract. This contraction usually lasts a few minutes and can feel painful. The reason for this is that the muscles harden due to the constant contraction.

Although the feeling of tightness in the lower leg can be very painful, it is usually harmless.

Calf cramps usually go away on their own after a few minutes. If this is not the case, a massage of the calf muscles usually helps. At the end of the article we will show you what you can do best with a calf cramp using helpful tips and tricks.

Depending on the type of calf cramps, they can be traced back to different causes. Basically, leg cramps are divided into three different categories:

  • Paraphysiological cramps: Due to an imbalance in electrolytes, cramps occasionally occur after physical activity or during pregnancy.
  • Symptomatic spasms : Symptomatic spasms are induced as an accompaniment in persons suffering from cardiac, metabolic, muscular or nervous diseases. Medications often increase the occurrence of such side effects.
  • Idiopathic spasms: The cause of the spasms is difficult to diagnose. However, they are often attributed to a hereditary predisposition or a disease.

Calf cramps caused by a magnesium deficiency can be classified as paraphysiological cramps. As you can see, there are other reasons as well. However, before we go into the other categories in more detail, let us first clarify whether and what role magnesium plays in the development of calf cramps.

What role does magnesium play in calf cramps?

The fact that calf cramps are directly linked to a magnesium deficiency is very common in society. In fact, magnesium plays an important role in muscle contraction and relaxation. Because in addition to calcium, potassium and sodium, magnesium is also an essential component of the electrolytes. In addition to numerous other tasks, the mineral also ensures that the muscles relax. (1)

A magnesium balance that is too low can therefore be the cause of calf cramps.

Because if there is an undersupply of magnesium, the concentration of calcium increases proportionately. An increased calcium balance is noticeable through tension or muscle cramps. The mineral magnesium is therefore also called the "anti-stress" mineral.

Man diving

When swimming, the lower leg muscles are often strained for a long time without an electrolyte supply. The result is usually calf cramps. (Image source: Greg Rosenke / Unsplash)

It can therefore be concluded that the action of magnesium is essential for muscle relaxation. A balanced magnesium-calcium ratio is essential for a balance between tension and relaxation.

Nevertheless, there are other triggers for a calf cramp.

In the table below, we will introduce other causes and discuss them in more detail later.

What causes calf cramps despite magnesium?

In addition to a magnesium deficiency as a trigger, muscle cramps in the lower leg can also have other origins. However, since the most common calf cramps occur due to an electrolyte imbalance (2), many only know this cause.

hormonal contraceptives

Hormonal contraceptives and other hormone preparations can trigger an imbalance in the hormone balance. This, in turn, can be the cause of the occurrence of calf cramps. (Image source: Simone van der Koelen / Unsplash)

However, our research has shown that the spectrum of possible triggers is much broader than expected. Frequent calf cramps can also be a symptom of numerous diseases.

The following table clearly shows the causes:

Caused Description
Disturbance of the electrolyte and water balance Dehydration due to diarrhea, vomiting, medication, profuse sweating, or inflammatory bowel disease / magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium deficiency
Disturbance of hormone balance and metabolism (Side) thyroid function, kidney diseases
muscle diseases Crampus fasciculation syndrome, Brody syndrome, Mytonia congenita Thomsen
diseases of the nervous system Myasthenia, dystonia such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis or Huntington's disease, polyneuropathies, tetanus, radiculopathies, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, stiff-man syndrome
vascular diseases varicose veins
drugs and poisoning Cholesterol-lowering drugs with the active ingredient fenofibrate, tablets for high blood pressure, hormonal contraceptives or other hormone preparations, asthma sprays with salbutamol, chemotherapeutic agents, toxins such as pesticides, strychnine or the poison of the tetanus bacilli


Even if you can't imagine anything about the majority of the causes, we wanted to show that calf cramps are not only related to a magnesium deficiency. Because cramps in the lower leg also occur despite a sufficient supply of the mineral.

As you can see, the list of potential causes that can trigger lower leg cramps is very long. So if you frequently suffer from cramp-like symptoms, even though you have a balanced magnesium store, medical examinations are recommended.

get rid of cramps!

Try our liposomal magnesium now

  • Enriched with zinc, selenium, chromium and taurine 🧪
  • Developed for people who often suffer from cramps 💪
  • Get a 21% discount now 💰*

Sunt Icon

*The discount is automatically applied to the product

Why do leg cramps often occur at night?

Anyone who has ever woken up at night from a calf cramp knows how painful it can be. In the age group 65 and over, 62 percent have leg cramps at night. (5) The frequent occurrence of cramps at night also has a reason: Since you are usually on the go more during the day, the muscles are also more active. This automatically creates a stretching effect.

In addition, when you are awake, you can react better and faster to the signs of a cramp.

For example, you can massage or stretch the lower leg. While sleeping, on the other hand, the calf cramp hits you very suddenly. As a result, you are only roused from sleep when your muscles have already completely hardened. This makes the night cramps even more uncomfortable.

Studies have found that performing stretching exercises does not reduce the frequency or intensity of nighttime cramps. (6) Other studies refute this statement and have found an improvement through daily stretching, especially in older adults. (7)

Why do women often have calf cramps during pregnancy?

Many women suffer from cramps during pregnancy. More specifically, up to 30 percent have these complaints regularly. (8) The calf cramps occur more frequently in the legs. The extent of leg cramps usually worsens in the second half of pregnancy.

Due to the higher weight, the muscles in the legs are often overstrained. As a result, calf cramps are not uncommon.

However, the most common cause why women have calf cramps during pregnancy is an imbalanced electrolyte household. Because pregnant women and breastfeeding women have an increased need for minerals during this time.

The simple reason for this is that the unborn or growing baby also needs these nutrients for optimal development. In addition, they have a higher loss of fluids, so that they generally need more magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium.

It is therefore of no use if, for example, you take in enough magnesium but there is a lack of calcium. A balanced electrolyte household therefore includes not only the sufficient supply of magnesium. Calcium, potassium and sodium should also not be neglected. Otherwise you can get calf cramps despite magnesium.

When should you see a doctor for calf cramps despite magnesium?

Basically, it is difficult to give a general answer to this question. The right time for a visit to the doctor is very individual. As a rule, however, it is better to be too early than too late.

As we have pointed out several times, an occasional occurrence of leg cramps is common. Even a sufficient supply of magnesium does not have to be a guarantee for the absence of calf cramps. Since this is harmless pain, you do not necessarily have to see a doctor.

However, if the frequency and intensity of the calf cramps increase, we advise you to get to the bottom of the problem. A doctor can use a variety of tests to help determine the cause of the spasms. As a result, more serious diseases can either be ruled out or treated with therapy or medication.

Calf cramps despite magnesium: The best tips & tricks against cramps in the lower leg

We have divided the following tips and tricks into two categories. On the one hand, you will find possible applications to prevent the occurrence of calf cramps. On the other hand, we go into the medical treatment methods. The latter is particularly important if the calf cramps still occur despite implementing the self-help tips.

prevention and self-help

If you only get occasional calf cramps, you can try the tips and tricks below for now. These can be used both for prevention and for self-help of acute cramps in the lower leg. We can't guarantee you success, but you can't go wrong when using the tips above. So try to implement our recommendations as best you can.


According to our research, a weekly workload of about three times 30 minutes of cycling or swimming is recommended. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you exercise regularly. How often and how intensively the sporting activity should be is very individual and therefore cannot be generalized.

Targeted stretching of the muscles in the lower leg helps in particular with calf cramps that occur during sporting activities. The best way to do this is to research effective exercises. You should also incorporate these stretching exercises regularly into your everyday life.


A balanced diet is essential to prevent muscle cramps. Particular attention should be paid to adequate mineral intake. In addition to the intake of magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium are also important for the electrolyte balance.

Especially those who do a lot of sport have a higher loss of minerals through sweating. Therefore, the following applies: It is best to drink sodium-rich mineral water in sufficient quantities.

improvement of blood circulation

To optimize blood circulation in the muscles, you can either massage the muscles or take contrast showers. A massage of the calf often helps to loosen the muscles in the case of an acute calf cramp.

abstinence from alcohol

Since alcoholic beverages have a diuretic effect, if you consume too much, you lose more fluid and therefore more nutrients. Because of this, you should only consume alcohol in moderation. (9)

Comfortable shoes

As simple as this tip sounds, it is also easy to implement. Because even uncomfortable shoes can trigger cramps in the lower leg muscles. Women in particular who wear heels should be aware of this. So it makes sense to wear flat shoes every now and then.

Medical treatment

If calf cramps occur frequently despite sufficient magnesium intake, alternative causes should be investigated. If the cramps are due to an illness, medical treatment is necessary. We recommend that you make an appointment with a doctor of your choice and discuss possible triggers. This is the only way to reduce the annoying occurrence of calf cramps.

As you have already read in our article, the causes of calf cramps can be very diverse, apart from a magnesium deficiency.

Calf cramps can be triggered by various diseases. Certain medications can also trigger cramps.

Only with the treatment of the disease can the cramps be brought under control. Physiotherapy can also be a way to alleviate the symptoms. If a magnesium deficiency is not the cause of the calf cramps, there is the option of using the active ingredient quinine sulfate as a medicinal treatment. (10) Which treatment is ultimately necessary must be clarified in consultation with the doctor.


Although leg cramps can be very painful, they are generally harmless. If you occasionally have such cramps in the lower leg area, you don't have to worry. Only if calf cramps occur more frequently should you be examined by a doctor. Because what many do not know: calf cramps can also be a symptom of serious illnesses.

The list of potential calf cramp triggers is long. This means that a balanced magnesium household does not have to be a guarantee for the absence of cramps in the lower leg. It is therefore possible to get calf cramps despite sufficient magnesium intake. If the calf cramps turn out to be a symptom of a serious cause, medical treatment of the underlying disease is necessary.


  1. Eder, Klaus. magnesium compounds. Admission, functions and therapeutic aspects. 2009
  2. Michael C Levin, MD, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan. Muscle Cramps (2016).
  3. Miller, KC, Stone, MS, Huxel, KC, & Edwards, JE (2010). Exercise-associated muscle cramps: causes, treatment, and prevention. Sports health, 2(4), 279-283.
  4. Allen, RE, & Kirby, KA (2012). Nocturnal leg cramps. American family physician, 86(4), 350-355.
  5. Abdulla, AJJ, Jones, PW, Pearce, VR (1999). Leg cramps in the elderly: Prevalence, drug and disease associations. International Journal of Clinical Practice. Volume 53, Issue 7, 1999, Pages 494-496
  6. Coppin, RJ, Wicke, DM, & Little, PS (2005). Managing nocturnal leg cramps--calf-stretching exercises and cessation of quinine treatment: a factorial randomized controlled trial. The British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners, 55(512), 186-191.
  7. Hallegraeff, JM, van der Schans, CP, de Ruiter, R, & de Greef, MH (2012). Stretching before sleep reduces the frequency and severity of nocturnal leg cramps in older adults: a randomized trial. Journal of physiotherapy, 58(1), 17-22.
  8. Hammar, M., Larsson, L., & Tegler, L. (1981). Calcium treatment of leg cramps in pregnancy. Effect on clinical symptoms and total serum and ionized serum calcium concentrations. Acta obstetricia et gynecologica Scandinavica, 60(4), 345-347.
  9. Chloé Delacour, Juliette Chambe, François Lefebvre, Claire Bodot, Elodie Bigerel, Laetitia Epifani, Céline Granda, Dagmar M Haller, Hubert Maisonneuve Association Between Alcohol Consumption and Nocturnal Leg Cramps in Patients Over 60 Years Old: A Case-Control Study. The Annals of Family Medicine 2018 Jul, 16 (4) 296-301.
  10. Diener HC, Baurecht W. Quinine sulfate in the therapy of nocturnal calf cramps: tolerability, compliance, quality of life and influence on symptoms. MMW 2019, special issue 6/2019
Back to blog
Vorheriger Beitrag

Nächster Beitrag

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.