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Overview

There are anecdotes of individuals placing a bar of soap under their bed sheets in order to help relieve cramping of muscles in the body, especially those of the lower legs.

These are referred to as nocturnal leg cramps because they occur at night and many people are plagued by this condition. This condition may cause signs and symptoms such as:

  • Involuntary muscle contractions.
  • Pain that wakes affected individuals up at night.
  • Continued muscle contractions and pain until the cramps finally relax.
According to those who do place a bar of soap under the bed sheet, this practice seems to work for them but no plausible and scientific explanation has been produced to suggest why this would work.

Therefore, placing a bar of soap under the bed sheet to help relieve cramps doesn't have any evidence-based research behind this practice but those who do perform it seem to say that it works. The type and size of soap, as well as whether it should stay wrapped or be unwrapped or if it should be placed directly under the affected leg or not are all factors that don't seem to affect the efficacy of this household remedy according to those who say that it works.

Some other folk remedies that apparently help alleviate leg cramps may include suggestions such as:

  • Drinking a glass of water with one-quarter teaspoon bicarbonate of soda mixed with it.
  • Consuming a teaspoon of yellow mustard.
  • Pinching the skin between the upper lip and the nose.
  • Pouring some salt into the hand and licking it.

Although ingesting the said products could help resolve electrolyte imbalances that may cause muscle cramps, there's no evidence to prove that pinching the skin between the nose and upper lip could help with the problem. 

Proven suggestions for lower leg cramps 

The following suggestions have some clinical backing behind them although further research is recommended for some to prove that they aid in relieving lower leg cramps:

  • Reducing caffeine intake at night.
  • Increasing one's water intake during the day to prevent dehydration.
  • Stretching the calf muscles before going to bed.
  • Sleeping on one's back with the toes pointed to the ceiling as this helps to stretch the calf muscles.
  • Increasing the intake of essential electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, as well as Vitamin E. 
  • Intake of quinine by drinking tonic water. This product should be consumed in moderation through as quinine is known to cause some unwanted adverse events.

Causes of lower leg cramps

Lower leg, and in general, muscle cramps may be caused by the mentioned issues such as dehydration and electrolyte disturbances which affect the way muscle in the body contract. 

Other conditions that may cause muscle cramps include:

  • Increased physical exertion leading to lactic acid buildup in the muscles.
  • Muscle injury.
  • Inadequate blood supply or delayed emptying of blood from the muscles.
  • Decreased iron levels in the body.
  • Liver and/or kidney-related diseases.
Muscle cramps can be managed conservatively with the mentioned suggestions but if these don't work then the possible causes of leg cramps should be investigated and ruled out or managed further in an appropriate and clinically proven manner.

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