How Do You Get Rid Of Charley Horse Cramps

How to Get Rid of Charley Horse Cramps: 10 Effective Methods


Charley horses, also known as muscle cramps or spasms, are a common occurrence that can be quite painful. They often occur in the calf muscles but can also affect other parts of the body, such as the thighs or feet. These sudden, involuntary muscle contractions can be caused by various factors including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, muscle fatigue, or nerve compression.
If you’ve experienced a charley horse before, you know how uncomfortable and debilitating it can be. Fortunately, there are several effective methods that can help you get rid of these cramps and prevent them from recurring. In this article, we will explore ten different ways to alleviate charley horse cramps and provide you with much-needed relief.

1. Stretching and Massaging the Affected Muscle

When a charley horse occurs, one of the first things you can do is stretch and massage the affected muscle. Gently stretching the muscle can help relieve the cramp and reduce the intensity of the pain. You can do this by straightening your leg and flexing your foot upward towards your body. Applying gentle pressure while massaging the muscle can also help relax the muscle and alleviate the cramp.

2. Applying Heat or Cold

Applying heat or cold to the affected muscle can help relax the muscle and reduce pain. For a charley horse, applying heat is often more effective in easing the cramp. You can use a hot towel or heating pad and apply it to the sore muscle for about 10-15 minutes. The heat increases blood flow to the area, promoting muscle relaxation and healing.

3. Taking a Warm Bath or Shower

A warm bath or shower can have a similar effect to applying heat directly to the muscle. The warm water helps relax the muscles and increases blood circulation, providing relief from the cramp. Soaking in a warm bath for 15-20 minutes or standing under a warm shower can help alleviate the discomfort caused by a charley horse.

4. Drinking Plenty of Water

Dehydration is one of the leading causes of muscle cramps, including charley horses. Inadequate fluid intake can result in an imbalance of electrolytes, which are essential for muscle function. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can prevent dehydration and decrease the likelihood of developing cramps. Staying hydrated is especially important during intense physical activity or in hot weather.

5. Consuming Electrolytes

In addition to drinking water, consuming electrolytes can help prevent and relieve muscle cramps. Electrolytes, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, play a crucial role in muscle function and maintaining the body’s fluid balance. Foods rich in these electrolytes include bananas, oranges, leafy green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products. If necessary, you can also opt for electrolyte supplements or sports drinks to replenish your electrolyte levels.

6. Taking Over-the-counter Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can offer temporary relief from the pain associated with charley horse cramps. These medications help reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort. However, it’s important to follow the recommended dosage and consult a healthcare professional if you have any underlying medical conditions or concerns.

7. Applying Topical Muscle Creams or Ointments

Topical muscle creams or ointments that contain ingredients like menthol, camphor, or capsaicin can provide relief from muscle cramps. These creams work by producing a cooling or warming sensation, which helps soothe the muscle and reduce pain. Apply the cream or ointment directly to the affected area and gently massage it in for maximum effectiveness.

8. Performing Gentle Exercises

Engaging in gentle exercises can help prevent and relieve charley horse cramps. Regular physical activity helps improve circulation, flexibility, and muscle strength, reducing the likelihood of experiencing muscle cramps. Stretching exercises, yoga, walking, or swimming can be beneficial for preventing and managing muscle cramps. However, it’s essential to start slowly and consult a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have existing medical conditions.

9. Doing Regular Muscle-stretching Exercises

Incorporating regular muscle-stretching exercises into your daily routine can help prevent muscle cramps, including charley horses. Focus on stretching the muscles that are often prone to cramping, such as the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Stretching exercises like downward dog, lunges, or calf stretches can help improve muscle flexibility and minimize cramp occurrences. Aim to stretch each muscle group at least 3-4 times a week for optimal results.

10. Resting and Elevating the Leg

If you experience a charley horse, rest and elevate your leg to alleviate the cramp and reduce discomfort. Lie down and prop your leg up on a pillow or cushion to elevate it above heart level. This position helps improve blood circulation and reduces the pressure on the affected muscle, providing relief from the charley horse cramp.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What causes charley horses?

Charley horses can be caused by various factors, including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, muscle fatigue, or nerve compression.

Q2. Are charley horses common?

Yes, charley horses are common and can happen to anyone, regardless of age or fitness level.

Q3. How long does a charley horse last?

The duration of a charley horse can vary, but they typically last for a few seconds to a few minutes.

Q4. Can dehydration cause charley horses?

Yes, dehydration is a common cause of charley horse cramps. It’s important to stay hydrated to prevent muscle cramps.

Q5. Can stretching prevent charley horses?

Regular stretching and muscle-strengthening exercises can help prevent charley horse cramps by improving muscle flexibility and strength.

Q6. Can certain medications cause charley horses?

Some medications, such as diuretics and statins, can increase the risk of developing muscle cramps, including charley horses.

Q7. Can pregnancy cause charley horses?

Yes, pregnancy can increase the likelihood of experiencing charley horse cramps due to hormonal changes, weight gain, and increased pressure on the muscles.

Q8. When should I seek medical attention for charley horse cramps?

If you experience severe or recurrent charley horse cramps, or if they are accompanied by swelling, redness, or other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention.

Q9. Can charley horse cramps be a sign of an underlying medical condition?

In some cases, charley horse cramps can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as peripheral artery disease or nerve damage. If you have concerns about your cramps, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation.

Q10. How can I prevent charley horse cramps?

To prevent charley horse cramps, it is important to stay hydrated, maintain a balanced diet, avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption, and engage in regular stretching and strengthening exercises.


Charley horse cramps can be incredibly painful and disruptive, but there are several ways to alleviate the discomfort and prevent their occurrence. By following the ten methods discussed in this article, including stretching, applying heat or cold, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular exercise, you can find relief from charley horse cramps and enjoy improved muscle health. Remember, if you have any concerns or your cramps persist, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

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