Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night with a leg cramp? One minute you are fast asleep and the next you are in agony with muscle spasms. When a muscle cramps up it can take a long time for it to let go. In the meantime, you will be wide awake seeking relief. Some people try to massage the arch of the foot. Others stretch out the calf or thigh. Many make a painful trek to the refrigerator to get yellow mustard or pickle juice (see our explanation of what causes leg cramps and quick remedies to overcome them at this link). Here’s another quick approach to stop leg cramps and muscle spasms quickly.
A Reader Shares the Mouth Pinch Technique:
Q. You wrote recently about leg cramps. Back in 1985, a medical doctor told us about pinching the side of our mouth opposite the leg which has a cramp.
In other words, if you have a cramp in the left leg, pinch the right side of your mouth (with the pointer finger inside the mouth and the middle finger on the outside). She said it worked like acupuncture.
This technique has always worked for me and my wife, including this week when a cramp woke me up. It stopped almost immediately!
A. Leg cramps or muscle spasms may be triggered by over-activated nerves. Other people have described a similar technique. They recommend pinching the center of the upper lip, right under the nose, for a minute or two.
Pinch the Lip to Stop Leg Cramps and Muscle Spasms:
One reader shared this history:
“One day I read an article about Frank Broyles. When he was coaching at Arkansas, he told players with leg cramps to pinch the upper lip right beneath the nose and hold it until the cramps eased. I thought this sounded odd, but I tried it.
“When the cramps started, I pinched my upper lip and the cramps gradually went away. I don’t how or why it works, I just know it did for me.”
Joel in Atlanta, Georgia has a variation on the upper lip strategy to stop leg cramps and muscle spasms:
“I ran track and cross country back in high school and cramps were always notorious for everyone on the team, especially the distance runners. These are the kind of leg cramps that made me afraid to fall asleep after a heavy practice because I knew that more than likely I’d wake in the middle of the night in excruciating pain.
“Our coach first taught us the technique of pinching our bottom lips as hard as we could and the cramps would ease off quickly. We all thought he was crazy but I tried it one night and have pinched my bottom lip ever since when I get a leg cramp. It absolutely works!”
Christy can stop leg cramps and muscle cramps in 3 seconds:
“I’ve used the ‘pinch between the nose and the upper lip’ many times and it worked every time. Only took about 3 seconds of hard pinching.”
Wanda remembered that a great tennis champion used the lip pinch technique:
“I remember reading an article about tennis champ, Chris Evert. She mentioned that she pinched her upper lip when she got a cramp. Totally forgot it until now.
“I LOVE sleeping with my bar of Ivory under the sheet. As soon as the bar in the bathroom is running down I know it’s time to put a fresh bar under the sheet and start using the old one in the bathroom. It’s worked now for several years and it’s also stopped my restless legs from walking all over the place. Thanks for all your wonderful books, articles and radio shows.”
An Explanation for the Lip Pinch to Stop Leg Cramps and Muscle Spasms?
We speculate that this kind of intense pressure stimulates sensory nerves through TRP (transient receptor potential) channels in the mouth. These specialized structures detect pressure, heat and a variety of flavors. That is why we think vinegar, mustard, hot pepper, ginger and cinnamon also calm leg cramps for some people.
When TRP channels are actuated, they send nerve signals to the affected muscles. Many people report that their cramps let up within two minutes.
Would You Like to Learn More Ways to Stop Leg Cramps and Muscle Spasms?
We have written extensively about these problems because they are so common and there are no FDA-approved drugs to help. We have also interviewed a brilliant neuroscientist about the causes and cures to stop leg cramps and muscle spasms in under two minutes. Here is a link to that interview. It is free!
If you would like to learn more about simple treatments for leg cramps and many other common problems, you may be interested in our book, Quick & Handy Home Remedies. It is our highest rated publication. Readers give it 4.9 out of a possible 5 stars. It is available at this link.
Soap to Stop Leg Cramps and Muscle Spasms?
A Few Reviews:
Lynne in Hillsborough, NC is a repeat customer:
“This will be my 3rd box of soap. I had terrible foot, ankle and calf cramps that woke me up every night. Occasionally, I had them during the day too. I knew about soap under the sheets so I tried what I had (Dial). It seemed to work a little bit however, I still had the cramps in a milder version.
“I decided to try your Bed Soap. I cannot express my relief after the first night. No cramps…… none. My husband has also had leg cramps and restless legs for awhile. They would sometimes be so bad he would jump up and try to walk them off on the way to the fridge for pickle juice.
“Since using your soap, we both sleep lots better and have no cramps for a long period. I always know when it’s time to change the bar, because I begin to get mild foot/ankle cramps. You’ve got a real winner here. Please, don’t stop making and selling it.”
Miriam in Schenectady, New York was able to stop leg cramps and muscle spasms really fast:
“I put your soap under the fitted sheet and did not have any leg cramps. Two nights ago I woke up with such bad cramps that I wanted to scream. Where’s my soap? It had scooted itself over to the other side of the bed so I pushed it back where it belonged and within minutes the cramps were gone.”
Charlotte in Seattle has restless legs:
“I’ve had 2 bars of this lavender scented bed soap in bed with me for a few nights now. I put one just above my ankles and one just above my knees. The thing is that I get restless legs before I go to bed–while I’m watching TV or reading, stretched out on the recliner. It’s always gone by the time I go to bed. Occasionally, though, I get restless legs in bed, so for me, I’m hoping the soap will prevent it. As for restless legs early in the evening, I can wear socks and will try the Tea Olive Soap Chips in my socks.
“About the fragrance of the bed soap and leg soap, I love them both! That’s saying a lot, because I have asthma and coughing and can tolerate very few fragrances. (Ivory soap is the absolute worst!) I find the lavender and the tea olive fragrances very pleasant and not at all overwhelming. My husband is very particular about fragrances, but he seems to be accepting the bed soap just fine (but I haven’t told him what I’m doing, either).
“I read a review from the lady who had restless legs on an airplane flight. Now that’s me. For anyone who hasn’t experienced this, there are hardly words to describe it. It’s like being tortured! When I tried to do leg exercises in my seat, hoping to alleviate the RLS, I ended up with the most excruciating leg cramps.
“The next time I get on a plane, I’m going to “wear” soap chips–in my shoes, my socks and my pockets–a whole box, if necessary! I might even make myself custom leg and arm wraps with little pockets for soap chips. You might want to experiment with making some bed soap with the Tea Olive fragrance for those who don’t care for Lavender. Men might prefer the Tea Olive scent.”
Let us know what you think about the lip pinch remedy in the comment section below.