What Causes Leg Cramps? 10 Common Causes (You Should Know)

Throughout life, almost all adults have experienced leg cramps one way or another. Leg cramps are sudden muscle contractions that affect the muscles of the calf, thigh, and feet. Though leg cramps are often harmless, they are still quite painful. It is also worth noting that leg cramps may be warning signs for conditions such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease.

Leg cramps affect nearly 60% of all adults, half of all pregnant women, and almost all athletes. These painful involuntary muscle contractions can last as short as a few seconds, but the muscles usually relax within 10 minutes. However, tenderness and soreness in the area where cramps occurred may last for as long as 24 hours. The intensity and pain levels for leg cramps may also vary per person.

Given that so many people are affected by these involuntary muscle contractions, it is best to know the different causes to prevent muscle cramps or at least lessen the pain or duration of these episodes. Below is a list of the various causes of leg cramps:


Water is one of the most essential resources for any person’s body. Therefore, it is highly recommended that adults drink an average of 8 to 12 glasses (3 – 4 liters) of water daily. Keeping this amount of water in mind will also help to avoid dehydration, which may cause an electrolyte imbalance in the body. This imbalance is the usual suspect as to why leg cramps occur.

It is often hard to track how much water has been consumed. More often than not, people usually forget to drink the recommended amount of water. This may lead to leg cramps if triggered by exercise or other strenuous activities.

One good way to keep track of water intake is by carrying around a personal water jug or tumbler. Not only will it help make sure that water is readily available, but it will also help measure water consumption down to the milliliter.

Another way to keep track of water intake is to schedule consumption throughout the day. For example, a glass of water immediately after waking up and before winding down for bed and 1 to 2 glasses of water per meal should help get through the 8 to 12 glasses daily.