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How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps

by
author image Kristen McCarty
Kristen McCarty started writing wellness articles for students and faculty in 2007. She has worked as a certified athletic trainer and health educator at the collegiate and secondary school levels. She now writes for LIVESTRONG.COM. She holds a Bachelor of Science in sports medicine concentrating in athletic training from Mercyhurst College and a Masters of Arts in applied physiology from Teachers College-Columbia University.
How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Common complaints among athletes include mid-exercise and post-exercise cramping. Muscle cramping is most often brought on by a combination of tight muscles, extreme weather, improper hydration and/or electrolyte depletion. Cramps can be treated and prevented by relaxing the muscle, rehydrating and balancing electrolyte levels in the body. Soaking in either a hot or cold whirlpool may provide relief. If possible, speak with a health care professional to determine which soak is more appropriate for your condition.

Warm Water Bath

Step 1

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Check with your medical provider prior to starting a soaking regimen. With precautions, these soaks can be done at home. Gather all materials necessary to complete the warm water soak.

Step 2

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Fill bath with hot water, monitoring the temperature as it fills. Adjust water temperature to read between 90 degrees and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm water soaks will relax tight muscles but can burn skin if the water is too hot.

Step 3

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Measure 1/2 cup to 1 cup epsom salt into the bath. For best absorption of salt, allow epsom salt to dissolve completely in warm water soak.

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Step 4

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Stretch the muscle during the soak. Hold stretches for 20 to 30 seconds at a time allowing for the muscle to relax. Stretching combined with heat will increase blood flow to the area and decrease muscle spasm and pain.

Step 5

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Soak muscles in hot water for 15 to 30 minutes. To further relax the muscle, massage the area after soaking. This will also help relieve cramping after a warm water bath.

Ice Water Bath

Step 1

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Draw cold water into the bathtub while gathering the ice and thermometer. Ice should be set to the side of the cold water bath. Get into the cold water bath. The ice will be added in gradually as tolerated.

Step 2

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Measure water temperature. Adjust ice bath temperature at comfort level keeping the temperature higher than 50 degrees but cooler than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Soak in ice bath for five to 20 minutes as tolerated. Beware of signs of hypothermia or frostbite on extremities.

Step 4

How to Soak to Prevent or Relieve Leg Cramps
Photo Credit Michele Rider/Demand Media

Massage the area after soaking. Massage will help bring back blood flow to the area after an ice bath.

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