How To Get Rid Of A Charley Horse Cramp

How To Get Rid Of A Charley Horse Cramp

Charley horse cramps can be a painful and frustrating experience. These involuntary muscle contractions, usually occurring in the calf muscles, can leave you feeling sore and unable to move comfortably. While the exact cause of charley horses is still not fully understood, there are several effective ways to alleviate the pain and prevent future cramps. In this article, we will explore some techniques and remedies to help you get rid of a charley horse cramp.

What is a Charley Horse Cramp?

A charley horse, also known as a muscle cramp, is an involuntary muscle contraction that can cause severe pain and discomfort. These cramps often occur in the calf muscles but can also affect other areas of the body, such as the thighs or feet.

Causes of Charley Horse Cramps

While the exact cause of charley horse cramps is unknown, there are several factors that may contribute to their occurrence:

  • Dehydration
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Overexertion
  • Poor circulation
  • Nerve compression

How to Get Rid of a Charley Horse Cramp

If you find yourself experiencing a charley horse cramp, here are several techniques you can try to help alleviate the pain:


One of the most effective ways to relieve a charley horse cramp is to gently stretch the affected muscle. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Stand facing a wall, about an arm’s length away.
  2. Place your hands on the wall and lean forward, keeping your heels on the ground.
  3. Bend the knee of the affected leg and bring your body closer to the wall until you feel a stretch in your calf muscle.
  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds to a minute, or until the cramp subsides.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

Stretching can help relax the muscle and relieve the cramp by increasing blood flow and reducing muscle tension.


Gently massaging the affected area can also help relieve a charley horse cramp. Use your hands or a foam roller to apply gentle pressure to the muscle, focusing on the area where the cramp is occurring. This can help relax the muscle and improve blood circulation.

Applying Heat or Cold

Applying heat or cold to the affected muscle can provide temporary relief from a charley horse cramp. You can use a warm towel, heating pad, or hot water bottle for heat therapy. Apply the heat to the muscle for 15-20 minutes, or until the cramp subsides.

Alternatively, you can use an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel for cold therapy. Apply the cold to the muscle for 10-15 minutes, or until the cramp subsides.

Taking a Warm Bath

Taking a warm bath can help relax the muscles and alleviate a charley horse cramp. Fill your bathtub with warm water and soak the affected muscle for 15-20 minutes. You can also add Epsom salt to the water for added muscle relaxation.

Hydrating and Replenishing Electrolytes

Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are common causes of charley horse cramps. To prevent these cramps and alleviate existing muscle spasms, it is important to stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day and consider incorporating electrolyte-rich foods and drinks into your diet, such as bananas, coconut water, and sports drinks.

Using Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

If the pain from a charley horse cramp is severe and persistent, you may consider taking an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, it is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

Preventing Future Charley Horse Cramps

While it may not be possible to completely prevent charley horse cramps, there are several steps you can take to reduce their occurrence:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Stretch regularly, especially before and after exercise.
  • Ensure you are getting enough electrolytes by incorporating foods and drinks rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium into your diet.
  • Avoid overexertion and allow your muscles adequate time to rest and recover.
  • Improve circulation by staying active and incorporating regular exercise into your routine.


Q: Why do charley horse cramps occur primarily at night?

A: The exact reason for charley horse cramps occurring primarily at night is unknown, but it is believed to be associated with muscle fatigue and dehydration that may occur during the day.

Q: How long does a charley horse cramp typically last?

A: The duration of a charley horse cramp can vary but usually lasts for a few seconds to a few minutes. In some cases, the cramp may persist for longer periods.

Q: Are there any risk factors for developing charley horse cramps?

A: While anyone can experience charley horse cramps, there are some risk factors that may increase the likelihood of their occurrence. These include age (older adults are more prone to cramps), certain medical conditions (such as diabetes or liver disease), and engaging in intense physical activities.

Q: Can pregnancy contribute to charley horse cramps?

A: Yes, pregnancy can increase the risk of developing charley horse cramps. Hormonal changes, weight gain, and changes in circulation and muscle fatigue can all contribute to the occurrence of muscle cramps during pregnancy.

Q: Are there any home remedies for preventing charley horse cramps?

A: Yes, there are several home remedies that may help prevent the occurrence of charley horse cramps, including staying hydrated, stretching regularly, and incorporating electrolyte-rich foods into your diet.

Q: Can certain medications contribute to charley horse cramps?

A: Yes, certain medications, such as diuretics and statins, can increase the risk of developing charley horse cramps. If you are taking any medications and experiencing frequent muscle cramps, it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider.


Charley horse cramps can be incredibly painful and disruptive, but there are several effective ways to alleviate the pain and prevent future cramps. By following the techniques and remedies discussed in this article, you can find relief from charley horse cramps and get back to living a more comfortable and active life.

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