painful leg cramps, your leg cramps

Have you ever leapt out of bed in the middle of the night with a terrible pain in your calf or your hamstring? Nocturnal leg cramps can really wreck a night’s sleep. Some people are quite susceptible to them at nearly any time, while others may experience them only after vigorous or unusual exercise. There are no medications that will help most leg cramps, but home remedies can be useful. Could a silly-sounding remedy prevent your leg cramps?

Soap in Bed to Ease Your Leg Cramps:

Q. I am so grateful to have discovered a leg cramp cure on your website. I was very skeptical about putting soap under my sheets. But when I tried this trick, it helped!

The first time I used it, the soap worked for two or three months, and then it stopped. I decided to take a fork and score the surface. That did it! Now I do that as soon as my leg cramps come back.

Scoring the Soap:

A. We have heard from many readers that some brands of soap can prevent or stop leg and hand cramps. An anesthesiologist actually did some preliminary studies using soap and soap-scented oil on the skin (Ough, Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, Sept. 1, 2008). He found that the scent itself could relieve muscular pain, even though it is not a topical analgesic.

We speculate that the soap scent is working through olfactory receptors in the skin that activate specialized nerve channels. By doing so, it may dampen the inappropriate nerve activity causing muscle cramps.

The fragrance dissipates over time. By scoring your soap, you are exposing a new layer that can release scent.

Lavender Soap Under the Sheets Relieve Your Leg Cramps:

Q. I’ve heard of soap for leg cramps before but this sounded more like an urban myth.  Lately I have been having  cramps at least several times a night. This has been going on for months. I tried potassium and calcium supplements, but they had no effect. I then tried an over-the-counter cramp medicine that didn’t work. I read that cold feet can cause cramps, so I put on socks. No good. Really hot baths and several other remedies were equally unhelpful.

I was taking Advil at night which helped a little, cutting the cramps to 2 to 3 cramps instead of 3 to 4 a night. So what the heck, I figured, I will try the soap. I opened a brand new bar of Jergens that smelled great but didn’t work. In fact I had more cramps, none of them major. I often have to get out of bed and walk and the cramp goes away pretty quickly. I then tried two bars of Jergens with no result. I then tried a bar of Olay since the scent was a lot stronger, again no result. So thought the effect people were getting was pure placebo.

The next night my wife said she bought some more soap. She bought Ivory since I had mentioned that some people use Ivory. She also had one bar that said lavender and I remembered a post that recommended it. So I tried the lavender soap. I was pretty surprised to wake up the next morning having not experienced a single cramp, and the same the next night. So for me it was not any bar of soap but one with lavender.

Lovely Lavender Soap for Your Leg Cramps:

A. We are pleased to hear that the lavender soap worked. The scent of lavender has a reputation for soothing folks into sleep, so it’s great that it also soothed your muscles.

Soap tucked under the bottom sheet, near the legs, does not work for everyone but we have heard from many readers who find this is very helpful in preventing nighttime leg cramps.

We would like to mention that our People’s Pharmacy Bed Soap was designed to be used for this home remedy, although other brands also work. It is perfectly nice soap to use in the shower, but the bar is broad and thin, so it creates less of an obstacle for the legs. It also has a  lavender aroma. That said, we trust that you will continue to get relief with lavender-scented soap from any source. If the effect starts to fade, scoring the soap should revive it.

Other Readers Share Their Experience:

Many other readers have tried this remedy, some with considerable skepticism. Here are a few of their stories. Some of them might inspire you to try a way to help your leg cramps.

Judy related:

“I, too, have leg and foot cramps when I retire for the night. I now have two bars of soap in bed with me at all times. When my foot goes into a cramp I put the bar against the bottom of my foot and within seconds the cramp is gone. I have leg pain almost nightly and put the soap bar directly on my leg for relief. No doubts here.”

Tony said:

“I found that putting a small bar inside my sock around the ankle area helps a great deal when on a long hike.”

SR wrote:

“I have used Dial soap between our sheets for years. I don’t know how it works nor why, but it does.”

Another reader noted:

“A herbalist in our neighborhood usually uses a leaf called Tuba-tuba; it’s the native name for that leaf here in the Philippines. It’s very effective for leg cramps.”

Joy is enthusiastic:

“The soap theory really does work. With severe night cramps 2 or 3 times a week, I just had to try something. A bar of lavender soap did it for me. I placed lavender soap as recommended in my bed 3 months ago and have had no cramp since, so until I find a better remedy, I’m sticking with this scented companion and ignoring the skeptics.”

Ron recommends:

“I read about lavender soap reducing the incidence of nighttime leg cramps. I used lavender oil, and out a dab of it on my upper lip when I retire for the night. I was sceptical, but qualitatively, I believe the cramps are reduced.”

Have you found that soap prevents your leg cramps at night? Or have you discovered a different remedy that helps? Tell us about it in the comment section.

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  1. Marilyn

    I was in a hotel when I got leg cramps. I hobbled to the bathroom grabbed the soap from the dish and rubbed on my legs then put the bar in the bed. Relief!

  2. TOM

    After suffering from Severe upper leg cramps for years i found a veterinary book that gave me a cure that works. I take a calcium magnesium pill every couple of weeks and it totally prevents me from getting these cramps.
    If I forget to take a pill and get a cramp I grind up a pill and take it with water . The cramp gone within 2 or 3 mniutes
    I have passed this info to other people and they have found relief when nothing else works!

    try it

  3. Linda
    Tacoma WA USA

    I rub pure glycerin, ( an ingredient in many soaps), into my legs and feet every night, and it stops my cramps.

  4. Sue
    Marietta, Ga.

    I use pickle juice and it helps a great deal. I get severe body cramps, and eat a pickle before going to bed several times per week.

  5. LaVonne

    I have had leg cramps for years as my Dad did also. I have been taking potassium gluconate 550mg and magnesium 500mg for over 2 years and no longer get leg cramps.

  6. LaVonne

    I have had leg cramps for years as my Dad did also. I have been taking potassium gluconate 550mg and magnesium 500mg for over 2 years and no longer get leg cramps.

  7. Joyce

    Ivory soap does work for me. Most natural pure soap on market.

  8. Barbara E.

    I would like to share my finding relief from leg cramps. I tried the bar of soap but as I’m a restless sleeper it didn’t work. I read what the ingredients in soap were that gave the relief.
    Reading that it was probably the oil and scent I decided to try perfume spray on the soles
    of my feet. IT WORKED! It even works in any daytime cramping in hands. You don’t need
    pricey perfume….a knock off spray will work.

  9. Ann

    I knew about soap under the sheet but didn’t have it in place when severe leg cramps struck. I grabbed a bar and rubbed the dry bar on my leg. Immediate relief!

  10. Gerry

    I’ve used Ivory pieces under the sheet now for several years after reading about it on your site. I use Ivory in the bathroom and kitchen sinks for hand and face washing, and when it breaks or gets too small I stick it under the sheet. I’ve always been frugal and this way it works twice as long!

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