You know that feeling when you wake up in the morning, your eyes flutter, you yawn and stretch your arms overhead and reach your toes down for a nice, leisurely stretch… then all of a sudden a cramp strikes your foot or calf muscle and you seize up like a pretzel waiting for the pain to subside? Congratulations, you’ve just experienced a charley horse.
Known as an involuntary muscle contraction, these cramps can be quite painful. Most of the time they happen in the lower limbs and feet but a muscle spasm can also occur in your abdominal region, the upper back and neck area, and in the arms.
Muscle cramps can occur for a variety of different reasons. Several of the most common include:
- Poor circulation
- Pinched nerve
- Muscle fatigue
- Insufficient stretching
- Side effect of medicine (for example: Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease)
- Potassium deficiency
- Magnesium deficiency
How to Handle
If you find yourself regularly experiencing charley horses, you should talk with your doctor. They may recommend a few courses of action to help alleviate their occurrence. Other steps you can take to diminish these painful episodes include changing your diet to include magnesium and calcium rich foods (or consider supplementing) and be sure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Massage is also a great addition to your regular routine. The application of pressure and movement can help address any potential areas of tension to avoid the painful sensations of a charley horse!