What are the causes of cramping in the thighs?

Causes and Treatment for Thigh Cramping

Cramping in the thigh is a painful experience brought on by dehydration, stiff muscles and/or a lack of key minerals and vitamins in the body. The resulting pain is generally experienced when a person in exercising--however, cramping can occur when a person is asleep. To alleviate the pain, it is essential to consume the necessary amount of water and nutrients every day, and to stretch out sore muscles before and after exercising. In addition, lying on one's back may help to temporarily relieve cramping muscles.


Cramping in the thigh is generally caused by dehydration or a lack of key minerals in the body. When the body is dehydrated, too much water and salt are lost in the form of sweat, resulting in a debilitating pain. When a body lacks the minerals necessary to perform---including potassium, magnesium and calcium---the body is unable to regulate activity in the nerves and muscles. In addition, not consuming the necessary eight glasses of water a day may leave a muscle starved for the hydration it needs. Therefore, it is essential to consume the right amount of minerals and water each day to discourage thigh cramping.


Thigh cramps are caused by dehydration, so it is essential to stay hydrated at all times, and especially on hot days or while exercising. Some people find that drinking less water before and during a workout can help combat cramping; however, more water should be consumed after exercising in such cases. In addition, regularly consuming fruits and vegetables high in magnesium, potassium and calcium may help prevent future cramping. It is also essential to stretch before and after exercising, using stretches that specifically target cramping thigh muscles.


A thigh muscle is cramping when there is sharp or debilitating pain while exercising or sleeping. The muscles affected may feel hot to the touch and may feel strained or stiff. Often, thigh cramps require a person to stop what they are doing and wait for the pain to subside. The pain may subside after stretching, deep tissue massage or the application of heating pads.

Temporary Treatment

Bathing with Epsom salt helps to relax the muscles (CVS)

As soon as the cramping begins, lie flat on your back with the affected leg elevated. If the position is uncomfortable, put your foot against the wall for support. If the cramp is in the back of the leg, raise and straighten the affected leg, resting your leg against a wall or tree if unable to hold your balance. Slowly bend the knee to help get rid of the cramp in the thigh. If the cramp is in the front of the leg, bend the knee so that the knee comes closer to your chest. Massage the thigh muscle firmly with your fingers. Extend the leg and deeply massage the affected area until the cramping goes away. Staying hydrated and taking long, warm showers or baths may also help. For additional comfort, Epsom salts may be added to bath water to increase muscle relaxation.

Long-term Solution

Mollusks are a surprisingly excellent source of potassium

In addition to consuming at least eight glasses of water a day, it is essential to consume foods rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium, which help prevent thigh cramping. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, mollusks, white fish, avocados, bananas and carrot juice are all excellent sources of potassium. Barley, artichokes, black beans, whole wheat flour and almonds are excellent sources of magnesium. Milk, cheese, yoghurt and ice cream are excellent sources of calcium. If your cramping occurs more frequently or the cramps feel more severe, talk to your doctor, as these may be signs of underlying conditions, including thrombosis, embolisms and fibromyalgia.

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