On the Prevention of Leg Cramps
My dad is not a trained scientist.
In a former life, he was a mill worker.
He has taught me a lot about organization, process, and experimenting.
He’s not afraid to try something new and is willing to keep what works and throw out what doesn’t.
A few years ago while in a deep slumber, he was awoken by a severe cramp in his leg. He writhed and kicked and eventually the cramp abated and he settled back under.
During a discussion at a cocktail party, he happened on an old wives’ remedy for leg cramps. The remedy suggested that you simply slip a bar a soap under the top sheet of your bedding near the foot of your bed.
Alas, the leg cramps were gone!
But, by what process? I imagine tiny magical fingers of sodium tallowate, detergents, and lye gently reaching up to caress and hydrate the muscles of his legs.
Seems like a solid conclusion.
He was an ardent believer using sudsy logic.
No soap = leg cramps
Soap = no leg cramps
Problem solved, let’s move on.
At one point his leg cramps came back. As he pulled back the fitted sheet it was apparent why. The bar of soap slipped from the covers and was now laying on the floor.
I wasn’t satisfied with his assessment. I wanted to know by what mechanism this actually worked.
As I questioned his hypothesis, I remembered a quote from theoretical physicist, Richard Feynman “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
I conjectured that it was the power of placebo at work.
With the spirit of scientific effort in mind, I conducted my own experiment.
Upon a fishing trip to Canada, my dad mentioned that he almost forgot to place his soap strategically under his sheet.
He peeled back the waxy wrapper on a freshly minted bar. The kind of bar you’d find in a fleabag motel room along a noisy interstate.
Any soap would do, so long as it’s fresh. Apparently, the molecular makeup of the soap is irrelevant in keeping the leg cramps at bay.
So, with soap in place, my Dad’s mind could rest at ease.
After he left cabin, I decided to run an experiment of my own. I peeled back the thin layer of cotton, slipped out the soap and replaced it with a cell phone battery. The battery was of similar size and shape to the soap.
Here are my field notes from the experiment.
Subject didn’t notice I switched bar of soap for cell phone battery. No complaints of leg cramps noted.
Subject was overheard exclaiming, “After I put that soap in my bed, I haven’t had a leg cramp.”
No complaints of leg cramps noted from subjected.
Final Field Note
The experiment has gone a bit awry. Preceding Night 4 of the study, the subject discovered I replaced soap with a battery. I was called something resembling a “hole in an ass.”
My scientific analysis only leads me to conclude that the same leg cramp deterring properties can be found in a half discharged cell phone battery.
What a marvelous breakthrough!