Why You Get Charley Horses and How to Stop Them
Sudden, excruciating leg cramps, also known as Charley Horses, can cause a fast, unpleasant awakening in the middle of the night. The cramps are actually muscle spasms that crop up when an imbalance in the body causes select muscle groups to go haywire. Some causes include:
When frequent muscle spasms start to become a problem, but the reason for them is unknown, keeping a daily log of dietary habits and exercise amount and frequency may help to pinpoint the cause. Occurrences of muscle spasms should also be recorded. Over time, the appearance of cramps after certain foods or activities may be observed.
When a particularly vigorous workout follows a relatively long period of inactivity, the shock and overuse of the muscles can cause cramping to develop. Warming up before exercising and being reasonable about the amount of activity that is endured during workouts can better prepare muscles and help prevent cramping.
Stretch the Leg
When a Charley Horse strikes and its grip won’t let go, gently stretching the muscle can help it to release. If the spasm is in the calf or the back of the thigh, the person should stand up with the weight on the affected side and bend the knee a little to help stretch out the muscle. If the cramp is on the front of the leg, it can be released by reaching behind and pulling the foot toward the buttocks.
When attempting to massage a cramped muscle, it is important to employ the correct technique. Often, people mistakenly massage a contracted muscle in a circular motion, which actually causes the area to spasm even more. Massage should be performed by applying firm pressure and rubbing the area in a vertical movement along the length of the muscle.
Have a Soak
Soaking in a bath of Epsom Salts can help relieve cramping. The salts should be added to warm water and the area bathed for at least 20 minutes.