Many people suffer in bed at night from painful cramps, usually involving the calf muscles or the small muscles in the sole of the foot.

These cramps are not usually related to any underlying problem but are thought to be due to mechanical factors.

With normal muscle tone, each group of muscles has an antagonistic group which pulls the limb in the opposite direction. When the muscles are completely at rest, as can occur in bed, normal contraction of some muscles may occur without the antagonists being activated and so the extreme contraction leads to painful cramping.

When you lie flat on your back in bed, the weight of the bed clothes may push the foot down. The same thing can happen when you lie face down and the foot is forced down. Should contraction occur in the calf muscles, the foot is already in extreme flexion.

One way of preventing this cramping action is to keep the foot in a neutral position, by having a pillow at the bottom of the bed, so the foot is neither down nor up. One way of stopping cramp is to force the foot into the opposite direction so the contracting muscle is forced to lengthen.

Quinine taken at night can certainly reduce the frequency of cramps. How it works is unknown, but it is effective.


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This entry was posted on Friday, May 15th, 2009 at 8:25 am and is filed under General health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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