If you’ve ever experienced a charley horse before, then you know nothing can compare to the sensation. These leg cramps occur primarily during sleep, and scientists believe this happens due to lying in one position for an extended period, which can result in muscle cramps and contractions. During the day, you move around a lot, which keeps the blood flowing and the muscles engaged.
This uncomfortable sensation awakens many people at night, but luckily, a charley horse doesn’t tend to last more than ten minutes. However, it can leave you feeling sore the next day.
Many people walk off the pain, but it can become a recurring problem if you don’t go to the source to fix it. Today, we will go over the reasons for these muscle spasms and solutions for getting rid of them.
If you experience leg cramps that often wake you in the middle of the night, then read on to find out the causes and solutions so that you can get restful sleep, pain-free.
If You Get Leg Cramps Often, This May Be Why…
A “charley horse,” or leg cramp, is a painful muscle spasm that can occur in your calf, thigh, or foot.
If you’ve ever wondered why people call it a “charley horse,” try to think of how you’d feel if a horse kicked you in the calf or thigh. It would probably hurt badly, which explains why people refer to the muscle spasm as a charley horse.
Somewhere between going to sleep and waking up, many people experience these muscle spasms but don’t know why. We’ve listed the most common reasons for muscle spasms below.
Four Primary Causes of Leg Cramps
Here are four everyday things that cause a charlie horse or muscle contraction of the legs.
When you sweat a lot or don’t drink adequate water, your body will lose electrolytes, which help maintain your muscles’ proper function. Consequently, not hydrating your body will likely result in frequent muscle spasms.
Electrolytes help to control your muscle contractions, so when your body doesn’t have enough electrolytes, it could cause painful muscle tension in the late night hours.
2. You’re cold
Although many people sleep better in a cold room, a cooler temperature can cause muscles to spasm. If you insist on keeping the room cold, cover up with enough blankets and don’t forget to cover your legs.
Exposure to cold temperatures can cause the muscles to stiffen and become inflexible, which could cause painful muscle contractions.
3. Being in the same position for long periods
Whether you work all day sitting down or standing up, simply being in the same position for that long could trigger muscle spasms later on, significantly if you don’t stretch. Women who wear heels are especially vulnerable to muscle cramps, which strain the feet, spine, and legs enormously.
4. Exercising without stretching
One of the biggest mistakes people make all too often is exercising without stretching before and after. While exercise will increase your physical fitness and strength, not stretching the muscles can cause painful repercussions later. Your muscles need time to recover after an intense workout, so stretch them out to avoid injury and muscle spasms.
How To Prevent Leg Cramps
Once you understand the causes, you’ll better see how these prevention tips can help.
1. Take A Warm Shower
Before a workout, you warm up to prepare your muscles for exercise and prevent injury, right? Well, the same concept applies to prevent a charley horse. If your muscles feel sore or stiff, hop in the shower to ease your pain and relax your muscles.
The warmth of the water will help to soothe your body and can go a long way in preventing muscle spasms during the night.
2. Drink Pickle Juice
You might’ve heard of this age-old remedy before; many people have tried it successfully. Studies have shown the effectiveness of using pickle juice to ward off sore muscles, and one study proved that pickle juice works better than even water at alleviating muscle cramps.
Pickle juice contains a lot of salt, which we need to maintain proper control of our muscles. This explains why this remedy works so well, and best of all, you probably already have a jar of pickles in your house.
3. Eat A Banana
Muscle spasms can also occur due to low levels of potassium. Bananas contain one of the highest potassium concentrations among any food in nature, so the next time you have a charley horse, try eating a banana to replenish your potassium levels and alleviate muscle cramps.
Final Thoughts on Dealing With Leg Cramps
Leg cramps can range from mild discomfort to excruciating pain that awakens you during sleep. Understanding the four primary causes can help you avoid these muscle contractions. However, you can try the home remedies we mentioned to alleviate them naturally if you still get them. So try heat, pickle juice, or potassium-rich foods to get the relief you need when they occur.