How to prevent leg cramps during pregnancy

Leg cramps during pregnancy – they’re excruciating aren’t they?  I’ve been waking up the last few nights gripping my leg in agony – meanwhile Andrew is wondering where the hell the intruder is that he needs to fight, until he realises it’s just me with yet another delightful side-effect of pregnancy.


I’ve been doing all the things to try and prevent legs cramps so I’d thought I’d share what I’ve found.


Why do we get leg cramps during pregnancy?


Leg cramps during pregnancy are thought to be caused by:

+ extra weight gain putting pressure on legs

+ changes in circulation / blood flow to the legs

+ pressure by baby on veins and blood vessels that go to your legs


How to avoid leg cramps during pregnancy


1. Stretch your calves, feet and ankles regularly.

Muscle tightness makes the cramping worse so taking some time to stretch out every day really helps.  If you want some pregnancy yoga classes to help stretch out your legs you’ll find them in my Online Yoga Circle, an online yoga membership for all stages of motherhood. Or include the stretches below into your daily routine to find some relief.


2. Try to keep moving.

While I know how tempting it can be to want to flop on the couch from exhaustion when you’re pregnant, keeping your blood moving through the body helps to reduce leg cramps. Anything that gets your heart pumping a little is perfect – moderate walking, riding, dancing, yoga, etc.


3. Wear supportive footwear.

So I fail big time on this one because I’m mostly always barefoot, but this is definitely something I need to reconsider.  Supportive footwear has been shown to reduce leg cramps, especially if you are standing or on your feet all day.


4. Avoid standing or sitting all day.

These two sound a little contradictory, don’t they? If I can’t stand or sit, what CAN I do? Basically if you’re on your feet all day, try and make some time to put your feet up when you can.  Or if you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, try to get up every hour or so and stretch your legs and go for a walk.  (Or try some of the yoga poses below when you get home).


5. Drink lots of water.

Dehydration is another cause of leg cramps so try and get your 2 litres each day (for all of the other reasons you need to drink enough water as well- skin, digestion, etc)


6. Try magnesium supplements or eat more foods with magnesium.

Leg cramps during pregnancy can be a sign that you’re not getting enough magnesium (or your baby is stealing it all). Try supplementing or eating foods where is naturally occurs (dark leafy greens, seeds and nuts, legumes, etc).


7. Prenatal massage

In case you need another reason to indulge in a prenatal massage, this can help improve circulation and reduce cramping.


In most cases leg cramps during pregnancy are just a sign that you need to look after yourself a little better; move more, drinks more water, eat the right foods, etc.  If you’re doing all of these things and it’s still not helping, chat to your doctor because it may be a sign of blood clots.


Top stretches to relieve leg cramps during pregnancy


Downward facing dog – Keep the knees as bent as you need and press the heels down to the floor.

Pyramid pose with blocks – Keep your hips square to the front and straighten both legs as much as you can.

Calf stretch – From hands and knees take one leg back and press the ball of the foot into the ground.

Hamstring stretch – From a kneeling lunge, straighten out the front leg as much as you can and fold over it from the hips.

Diamond – Sit comfortably and bring both feet together out in front of you (leave the feet away from the body so there is space for your belly.) Fold forward until you can feel the stretch in the hips and inner thigh.

Low squat – Sit on a block with the feet wider than hip distance and toes turned out.  Bring the elbows inside the knees.  Bonus points if you can engage the pelvic floor while you are here.

Wide leg forward-fold – Take the legs as wide as you can in a seated position. (Avoid if you are having any hip pain)

Kneeling foot stretch – Tuck the toes under in a kneeling position. If it is too intense for the feet you can bring the hands (and your weight) to the floor in front of you.


pregnancy yoga for leg cramps


Did you get leg cramps during pregnancy? What did you find helped the most?


Want to practice pregnancy yoga with me? Head over to my Online Yoga Circle; an online yoga membership for all stages of motherhood for immediate access to hundreds of classes.


Looking for help with something else?  Feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email and I’ll do my best to make a video, just for you. x

2 Responses to “How to prevent leg cramps during pregnancy

  • Magnesium spray!! A lifesaver. Use before bed or multiple times a day. I basically cover the lower half of my body including my baby belly once or twice a day.

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