A charley horse is a type of muscle spasm that most frequently occurs in the leg, though it can occur in any muscle. Hot weather and exercise can both cause a charley horse to occur. These spasms can also happen during the night while a person is sleeping. In all cases, the spasm is typically caused by dehydration and lack of potassium.
In order to prevent a charley horse, a person should stretch before engaging in exercise. In addition, the workout routine should be modified appropriately to ensure it is not too strenuous. Drinking fluids while exercising, particularly those that increase potassium, also helps prevent the condition. Eating bananas also helps increase potassium levels.
If a charley horse does occur, soaking in a tub of warm water with some Epsom salts added can help ease the pain. Typically, it is best to soak for about twenty to thirty minutes in order to obtain results. Simply rubbing the muscle can also relieve the pain. It is important always to rub with the muscle that has been affected by the spasm, rather than across it. If the charley horse occurs in the calf, which is one of the most common spots for it to occur, it is best to rub from behind the knee toward the heel.
Since dehydration and lack of potassium can cause this condition, drinking water and eating foods with potassium can sometimes help to make it go away. Similarly, stretching – particularly the calf – can help make the pain and the spasm subside.
Another remedy for the condition is to cut up three small lemons, one small grapefruit, and two small oranges and place them in a blender, peels and all. After blending these together, add a teaspoon of cream of tartar and blend again. This mixture helps to relieve the stiffness associated with a charley horse. Two tablespoons of the mixture should be taken orally along with two tablespoons of water twice a day. Ideally, one dose should be taken in the morning and another should be taken before going to bed.
Vitamin supplements can also help alleviate a charley horse, particularly if it is brought on by a vitamin deficiency. Taking 400 IU of vitamin E may also help.