Forget things that go bump in the night and monsters under the bed, my biggest fear is waking from a deep sleep with an excruciating Charley Horse, which is what happened to me a few days ago. This occurs randomly every few months. The pain proves almost unbearable as it takes several minutes for the spasm to release. So why do some of us battle this type of leg pain while others have never experienced even one (aka my husband)?
According to the National Institute of Health, a charley horse or muscle spasm can occur in any muscle in the body. Several of my family members endure back muscle spasms. Mine have always been in my legs, and for some reason, usually my right leg. Although my spasms attack at night only, many people, including some of my favorite athletes, experience a charley horse while exercising or performing some sort of physical activity.
Several different causes bring on the dreaded charley horse, including overworking or injuring muscles and working out while low on fluids or certain minerals like potassium. And there you have it . . . I’ve upped my fitness routine over the past two months. While I drink excessive amounts of water, on certain days I can tell it’s not enough. Dehydration and low potassium levels prompt my wicked leg pain. While I’ve read quite a bit about bananas helping to eliminate or lower the occurrence of leg cramps, I don’t find this to be effective.
I know I’m somewhat dehydrated because my lips and skin are dry, and I crave water at night. So in an effort to reduce my number of nightly visits, I’ve upped my water and potassium intake. I can already feel a difference, noticing only a slight sore spot where the spasm occurred. Sports drinks also help replenish nutrients lost during a hard workout—keeping a few bottles around the house is a good idea.
Finally, know your body. A few days before the charley horse, I had a tightening in one of my leg muscles. It was not a cramp but tightened, like a light spasm, at random times throughout the day and night—sometimes while working out or stretching and during down times, reading in bed. In retrospect I realize it was my body’s way of sending signals of what was to come. We hear it all the time, listen to your body. Mine certainly forewarned me about the dangers lurking around the corner.
As with any type of health related issue, if pain persists, make sure you see a health professional immediately.