A collage of limbs in a bath, faucets turned on, a moon sleeping, hands massaging and stretching leg cramps.

How to Find Relief from Nightly Leg Cramps

There are many online discussions and articles concerning nightly leg cramps with myasthenia gravis (MG). When people ask how to manage cramping, a few things are recommended in the comments far more than anything else. The 3 sisters: pickle juice, Gatorade, and mustard!

Many people mention that carbohydrates and electrolytes could be critical components when it comes to cramping. However, it seems that there is limited research supporting that pickle juice, Gatorade, or mustard provide relief for cramps.

Even if further research eventually proves that pickle juice, Gatorade, or mustard help with cramps, managing any health issues can be very personal. What works for one person might not work for someone else, or there may be other health considerations or personal preferences. So, what other relief for leg cramps is there? Here are some options that have worked for me.


I do yoga and stretching, yet even when I am daily and consistent with my practice, unfortunately, I do not notice a lot of change with my nightly leg cramps. So before bed, I always use a massage gun on my legs. I've noticed it helps a lot with waking up less during the night! When the cramps do wake me, I stick to squeezing my legs, but because of the weakness in my arms and hands, I like to have someone stronger than me do it if available. I also massage my legs by forming my hand into a fist and moving it in circles as deep into the muscle as I can.

If you do not mind the feeling of your legs having a little weight on them at night or the extra stuff in the bed, I recommend full-leg electric compression massagers. I plan to invest in one eventually.

Ice packs and cold plunge

When the leg cramps wake me up mid-sleep or keep me awake, I like to use ice packs to numb the pain and uncomfortableness that comes with the cramps. I have a small fridge in my room to alternate them in the freezer. I often fall asleep with them and use the ones with velcro straps to cover my entire leg circumference.

A cold plunge is probably not as convenient as ice packs in the middle of the night, especially to fill up a cold bath, but standing in a cold shower can have a lesser but similar effect as a cold plunge.

Heating pads and warm baths

I prefer heat rather than cold when it comes to water. Cold plunges or a cold shower often cause my body to tense up or shake, provoking muscle pain. But in the morning when my legs are aching after a night of cramping, a bath is excellent to help offset the overwhelming uncomfortableness at the start of the day. I also enjoy baths before bed to help relax my muscles as much as possible.

Before I knew of the effects Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) could have on worsening MG symptoms, I used it in my bath for a while. However, these baths were often short-lived, as I could barely tolerate the warm water without feeling short of breath. I have avoided Epsom salt since.

I also love the benefit of heating pads for cramps, but because of the noise of having to go to the kitchen to microwave a heatable pack, the time spent waiting for my electric pad to warm up, and then the wire getting all tangled in the bed, I tend to stick to heat before bed and ice pads throughout the night as the leg cramps wake me.

Natural ingredient muscle rubs

I find muscle tension and body relief from bath soaks, muscle rubs, and lotions with peppermint, arnica, calendula, and eucalyptus. MG is unique for each individual, so be cautious when using any essential oils and discuss with your doctor.

Preventative Care for Leg Cramps

Along with managing cramps as they arise, there are also a few things I do to try to prevent leg cramps from occurring.

Stay hydrated

I prioritize drinking plenty of water throughout the day by always having a water bottle next to me. Drinking the amount of water recommended during the day can be challenging because I rarely feel thirsty to drink that much. Doing some physical activity helps my body want to drink more water. When we are dehydrated, it can lead to body aches and cramps along with many other symptoms and risks, so I try not to add to the MG-related cramps I already have.

Supportive footwear

If you have ever invested in supportive footwear, you may have realized the relief while wearing them. But did you consider how it could ease your leg cramps at night? If you do not wear shoes while walking and standing throughout the day, especially when standing still or cooking, I highly recommend trying it to see if it helps improve the severity of cramps at night.

Regarding sandals, I like how Birkenstocks conform to the foot. But a side note: I am not flatfooted and know these are not a popular favorite for support. The Brooks brand has provided the most relief among the shoes I've tried thus far.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Myasthenia-Gravis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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