Have you ever been sleeping peacefully in your bed, turn your leg a certain way, and then BOOM, a leg cramp that wakes you up and makes you wonder what you did to deserve this type of pain? I have, and it’s MISERABLE. When I was pregnant with my first child I would get charley horses often and usually while I was sleeping. It became so bad; I was scared to move at all at night. Any little cramp would cause me to stop moving and hope it would go away before turning into something unbearable!
What exactly is a charley horse?
A charley horse is a common name for a muscle spasm or cramp. They can occur in any muscle in the body but often happen in the leg. When the muscle in your leg (or other body part) starts to spasm, it contracts without your control and does not relax. Some spasms occur because the nerve that connects to a muscle is irritated. If the muscle spasm is severe the soreness can last for hours or even a day.
- Inadequate blood flow to the muscle
- Muscle injuries
- Exercising when dehydrated
- Overuse of specific muscle
- Taking diuretics, which can lead to low potassium levels
- Not having enough calcium or magnesium, or sodium in the body
If you are experience charley horses frequently, it’s best to talk with your doctor about the right course of action. While your doctor knows best, there are some simple solutions you can do at home to ease the occurrence of charley horses. If its exercise induced, stretching and massaging can relax the muscle. Heating pads can help with relaxing the muscle and an ice pack can help numb the pain. Drinking enough water throughout the day can help prevent them, as well as drinking beverages that contain electrolytes, such as Gatorade or Nunn. Also, increasing your daily intake of certain minerals can help with prevention.
Foods that help with charley horse prevention:
- Seeds, such as poppy, sesame, and chia
- Cooked spinach
- Sweet potatoes
- Black beans
- Brown rice
- Peanut butter
Increasing my daily intake of certain foods with my first pregnancy could have prevented many nights of pain! Now, I make sure to eat a well balanced diet and stretch after every workout. I haven’t suffered from charley horses with this pregnancy and I hope I can keep it that way!