What Is a Charley Horse?


The term “Charley Horse,” which is really a muscle spasm, comes from a baseball player named Charley who suffered from severe leg spasm in the late 19th century. His nickname was “Old Hoss,” thus the term Charley Horse, from his first name combined with his nickname.

There are a number of causes of muscle cramps in general. Not having enough hydration is one of the causes, as well as an imbalance of potassium, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. Also, not stretching after vigorous exercise can make your muscles so tired that they cramp in response to your overexertion. When the leg muscles contract from a Charley Horse, the pain is severe. The best way to get relief from the pain is to try the following:

  • Stretch: Sit and stretch out your legs with your toe pointed up. Use a strap or towel to wrap around your foot and hold on to the tie with both hands while you lift your leg until you feel a stretch.
  • Try stretching and massaging the painful muscle when you feel the first spasm. Heat relaxes the muscle, but if the muscle feels very sore, try ice to reduce the inflammation.
  • Drink water and stay hydrated.

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