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Snooth User: skeeboy

Red wine causing leg cramps??

Posted by skeeboy, Mar 16, 2010.

Does anyone else get night-time leg/thigh/foot cramps after drinking red wine????  Here lately it's been brutal.  Any recommendations out there?  I'm not sure if whites would cause it also, I'm strictly a red guy lately.

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Reply by dmcker, Mar 16, 2010.

Sure there aren't other causes, whether too much or too little exercise, dehydration and missing electrolytes or...?

Reply by jelepea, Mar 16, 2010.

I'd vote for dehydration from the alcohol content. Ever had the same thing after drinking beer or liquor?

Reply by skeeboy, Mar 16, 2010.

I go to the gym 6 days a week....body fat content of 11%....& drink a ton of liquids (non-alcoholic) a day.  Beer has never bothered me.  Don't drink enough hard liquor to know if it bothers me.  The cramps only occur after our weekly trip to our favorite winebar/restaurant, never any other time during the week.

Reply by mrrar, Mar 16, 2010.


This might be the cause, but I do not believe is the most likely culprit.

I recommend you evaluate precisely what you do to/from the wine bar.  Assure that you are not bending awkwardly at any point, especially if you are inebriated, it is possible you could enter your car in such a way that causes pain later on.


Finally, to assure that the cause is actually red wine, buy some red wine and test at home.  If you cannot reproduce the results, then it relates specifically to your activity on that night.

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 16, 2010.

Try drinking a few extra glasses of water prior to bedtime after a night of moderate wine imbibing and check result (in other words, it could be dehydration notwithstanding your level of fitness and drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day). People are also known to have reactions such as hot extremities (e.g. feet) which is quite annoying when you are trying to sleep so your symptoms don't surprise me too much.

Reply by schellbe, Mar 17, 2010.

I've had thigh cramps for years. A lot of alcohol (usually red wine) seems to make the problem worse. Try taking some magnesium, a mineral that can become depleted by alcohol.

Reply by dmcker, Mar 17, 2010.

Beer actually helps alleviate cramps for most everybody. It's a standard therapeutic tool for marathon runners, as well as many other pro or amateur athletes. Somehow in your case it sounds like a sodium deficiency, or some such lack of electrolytes should be suspected. How much do you drink of that wine, and what do you eat with it, and how do you rehydrate?

Dehydration is different for me with different forms of alcohol. I don't get it with beer, only a little with wine, red or white, and then only after vast consumption. Sake brings it on quicker, as does tequila and particularly whisky. Etc., etc. And though I generally don't tend towards cramps as much as other athletes I've competed or otherwise associated with, I do find that drinking afterwards (esp. the beer I mentioned) tends to relax any borderline cramp states my muscles may be experiencing. Clubbing to excess (and I mean most every possible form of excess) does tend to bring on cramping for a number of people. But that's all nighters with tremendous substance consumption, so I assume a different discussion altogether....

Reply by amour, Mar 17, 2010.

Circulatory problems, other ailments, other underlying causes....

check it out closely....NOT RED WINE ITSELF.....I very much doubt

that red wine causes anything but  FINE FETTLE ...

an old English expression meaning good spirits!

Reply by zufrieden, Mar 17, 2010.

I agree about red wine keeping one in fine fettle - in moderation (and I'm pretty liberal so I don't mean a Women's Christian Temperance Movement interpretation of this term).  Only, so much depends on volume and you.  When you suffer these cramps, how much do you drink over what period?  You may be able to determine your point of no return with a little experimentation... it may be that simple.

Reply by napagirl68, Mar 17, 2010.

I second the magnesium recommendation.  Assuming you are not over drinking and keeping hydrated...    Magnesium is often recommended by drs to help nocturnal muscle cramps.  Also try eating at least one banana a day for the potassium.

I did a web search, and I did find lots of people who complain about either leg cramps or restless leg syndrome after drinking wine.  But I have found no biochemical explanation.  Perhaps you are sensitive to the sulfites or lactic acid in wine... 

You will have to do some experimenting with quantity, magnesium, and natural potassium sources (bananas, avocados (don't take potassium supplements without dr. orders, can cause heart arrhythmias)).  If it happens no matter what, you may have to give up wine :-(

Reply by dmcker, Mar 18, 2010.

Standard snack pack after athletic events in the tropics: beer and bananas. Several crazy stories about full body cramps (living rigor mortis, sort of) by athletes there, but that's for another venue.

No need to give up wine. Just keep some powdered multi-electrolyte packets in the house and drink some before bed, if the condition is ongoing. Can be mixed with most anything, and less gagging than gatorade. Generally useful to have handy for summer sports days, anyway...


Reply by GregT, Mar 18, 2010.

The other thing to remember is that if you've got any possible type of health issue, don't get your medical advice from a wine board. 

I get cramps from biking in the spring after a winter of non-biking, so I just kept it up all winter.  But first time it happened, I was so distraught that I went to the emergency room.  Never having had cramps before, I had no idea what was going on.

Reply by Doctor Bob, Mar 18, 2010.

Greg T

The precipating reason for your cramp was muscle exhaustion


Always hydrate before going to a cocktail party. Toss down a glass of water or soda before the alcohol.

Any family tendency towards Diabetes?

The cramps may have been precipitated by a drop in blood sugar.

I don't think they represent an idiosyncratic reaction to red wine

Reply by amour, Mar 18, 2010.

The opinion of my ex-husband, a famous cardiologist, is very valuable and free.......He honours moderate amounts of red wine!



Reply by fibo86, Mar 18, 2010.

@doctor bob I too was thinking Diabetes as one of the problems I had (before I was diagnosed) was such severe leg cramps it would wake me up in the middle of the night with contourted legs and unable to get rid of the damn things, I tried the magnesium and the banana's (as it used to work when I did sports) the night I got relief was the night I had insulin and that was amazing......I live again.

However I was also thinking Gout as it's a build up of some sort of acid (can't remember which one) after drinking alcohol and it is a very common cause of leg cramps and just painful legs.

Again seek the advice of your medical professional as a forum can often send you down the wrong track and the only person you end up hurting is yourself, don't guess go to the doc.


Reply by Peppino, Mar 18, 2010.

I've been experiencing extremely bad cramps the last few years supposedly do to dehydration.. too much sweating at the gym + plus too much caffeine + some alcohol... my Dr recommended tonic water and that seems to relieve the syptoms.. I believe it's the quinine in it

Reply by kd1097, Apr 26, 2011.

I believe there is something in red wine that is causing these cramps

I too have been getting brutal leg & foot cramps on & off for several months now.

Went through a whole process of elimination (vitamins, foods, etc).

I even started taking extra calcium – which didn’t work.

I drink a ton of water all day (& night) and do not drink alcohol in excess – so I know I’m not dehydrated.

Finally narrowed it down to red wine & stopped drinking it for about 2 weeks (surprise-surprise, no leg / foot cramps).

I’ve had beer and no cramps and I’ve had a martini & no cramps.

Because I love a good red wine (let’s face it... what else are you going to drink with a nice steak or Italian meal), I decided to try one more time with just one glass at dinner the other night.

That evening the terrible cramps woke me up as they had before.


I guess our bodies change and that sometimes we go through fazes where the body just won’t tolerate something.

I am now allergic to shell fish, where before I never had a problem.

I am now apparently red wine intolerant, where before there was never a problem.


If you find something out // some cure... please post it!

As you can probably tell by my responding to your post – I’m still searching!!


Reply by Ttu LawLibrary, Jul 22, 2011.

I have to agree with red wine guy.  I drink beer maybe once every other month, no alcohol, and stay fit and active and drink lots of fluids all day long.  I am healthy.  I attended a ceremony recently where all they were serving was red wine and sangria.  I opted for the red wine and I had exactly 2 glasses.  I went home that evening around 7:15PM and did my normal daily unwind.  That night I had the worst leg (calf) cramp I have ever experienced.  I have not had a similar cramp or a cramp at all in so many years I can't even remember.  I blame the red wine and the possibility that it contained sulfites or some sort of additive that changed my body chemistry.  I have to think it was the red wine as that was the only other ingested factor different from my normal weekly routine.

Reply by HelenL, Aug 6, 2011.

I drank a bottle of Spanish red wine with 3 friends last week. It gave a warning on the bottle that it contained sulphites. All 4 of us had severe leg cramps in the night. I had only ever had leg cramps twice before (20 years ago, both times when pregnant and not drinking), so it was a most unusual phenomenon for me. We are all sports people, runners and fit.

Last night, my husband and I shared a bottle of Spanish wine again with some friends and both got leg cramps again. (I have not checked with our friends yet). I've decided to give up drinking Spanish red wine, we do not have this problem with red wine from any other country!


Reply by goldenlover, Dec 21, 2011.

Last night I had excruciating leg cramps. Not the occasional kind where one toe goes funny. But up the shins, deep into the thighs.  Three separate times I woke up and had to walk and walk. It just started again tonight. What did the two nights have in common?  Red wine w/sulfites.  I don't have this reaction to other alcohol.  I have not had red wine for quite awhile, but I find it very odd that 30 minutes after having the same red wine tonight I started having these ODD leg cramps.  

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