Horse The web sites quoted below
indicate that dehydration and mineral imbalances
can cause a charley horse. Drinking adequate water
and supplements of calcium, magnesium, vitamin D
and B12 may prevent charley horse problems.
"* In most of the cases, Charlie horses are
the late responses of straining a muscle during
exercise, or otherwise.
* Charley horse might be the result of an
electrolyte or mineral imbalance in the body.
* In some of the cases, Charlie horses have been
found to be a signal of the onset of a vascular
* At times, kidney dialysis has lead to the occurrence
of Charley horse in the muscles.
* Low levels of minerals, such as potassium or calcium,
in the body can be one of the reasons for Charlie
* Low level of liquids in the body, while exercising,
might be a probable cause of Charley horse.
* Some spasms, especially in the neck area, might
be the result of taking too much stress.
* Charley horses in the upper leg are mainly caused
by activities like running or jumping.
* Some of the spasms occur because of the irritation
of the nerve that connects to a muscle.
* The most common type of Charley horse, found in
the calf region, is often the result of kicking
while swimming." (1)
- Mineral deficiency.Occasionally, charlie
horses are caused by an imbalance of potassium,
calcium or magnesium in our bodies.
- Dehydration.Dehydration is one of definite
causes of muscle cramps, because our body
needs water to act as lubricant for our
joints and muscles.
- Calcification. Calcification happens
the mineral calcium gets into soft tissue
and hardens. This happens when calcium
is not properly absorbed by your body.
- Side effect. It can be a side-effect
to medications like statins (cholesterol
lowering medications) and prednisone (medication
for allergic disorders). (2)
'For women, I also recommend trying a combination
of 500-700 mg of calcium and half that amount of
magnesium divided into several doses throughout
the day and one before bed. Make sure you eat plenty
of potassium-rich foods such as bananas, tomatoes,
potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, oranges and grapefruit.
You may also want to consider having your iron levels
checked, as low levels can contribute to leg cramps,
especially at night. Warm baths can help ease cramps,
and both massage and acupuncture are worth exploring.
If you smoke, stop now. And, in addition."
"There are several factors associated with
muscle cramps. One factor that influences muscle
cramps is a mineral deficiency or an imbalance of
electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, calcium,
and sodium. Electrolytes are certain minerals that
play an important role in muscle function. Low levels
of any of these minerals can allow the muscle to
contract, but prevent it from relaxing, Some researchers
believe a mineral imbalance can negatively affect
blood flow to the muscles and that a deficiency
of some minerals, like potassium, can interfere
with the muscles’ ability to use glycogen,
a sugar that is the muscles’ main source of
"First, consider adding essential electrolytes,
i.e., magnesium, potassium, etc. Sodium is an electrolyte;
however, most people get plenty of it in their diet.
Sodium should only be a nutritional concern if your
intake is low or you sweat a lot while working or
exercising. If either of these two instances are
the case, then replacing sodium is something you
should consider. Besides sodium, other important
electrolytes are magnesium, potassium, and chloride.
Magnesium, for instance, is an essential mineral
involved in muscle function that helps muscles to
contract and relax. A few years ago, researchers
in the United Kingdom found that 300 mg of supplemental
magnesium (as magnesium citrate) reduced nighttime
or nocturnal leg cramps in individuals who suffered
chronic leg cramps. Like magnesium, potassium is
an electrolyte found in your muscles. In fact, when
your muscles contract, they release potassium into
the surrounding tissue. Chloride is an electrolyte
that helps your body regulate the level of fluids
in your body. Chloride is an important electrolyte
to remember, since dehydration can be a contributing
factor to muscle cramps or charley horses."
|How to Prevent Leg Cramps
Most of the prevention tactics are a direct
product of knowing the causes of cramps
and doing everything to prevent them in
the first place. In order to prevent a cramp,
take into consideration the following recommendations.
* Don’t overdue it. If you’re
just starting to exercise for the first
time in a while, take your time. Gradually
work up to a goal, and don’t over
exert yourself the first time out. Know
your limits. Sometimes this is hard when
participating in active-style sports like
mountain biking or skiing, but recognize
when your body is tired and give it a break.
* Drink plenty of water. Lack of water
is a cause of leg cramping, so don’t
* Be careful when going from different
temperature environments. If you are exercising
outside in twenty degree weather and you’ve
been inside in seventy degrees, make sure
to stretch well and warm up outside before
beginning a workout. The same with cooling
down. Be sure to cool down before entering
a different temperature.
* Stock up on electrolytes. These are
what give your cells the energy to be able
to control your muscle movements. Most energy
drinks for athletes are full of electrolytes
for your body. Salt is the major component.
You sweat when exercising which is why you
need to replenish the electrolytes lost
through sweating. It all makes sense. Ever
tasted your sweat? Tastes salty doesn’t
* Stretch. This is probably the number
one reason people get cramps. They start
exercising their muscles when they haven’t
been used in a while and they’re tight.
It’s just like oil in a car. Without
oil, the engine would not lubricate correctly,
parts would not function optimally, and
could break. Stretching not only prepares
your muscles for movement, but it also mentally
prepares you for exercise. (6)
"Leg cramps can have a lot of origins. If they
are only at night, I often think of minerals. The
top minerals that alleviate leg crams are magnesium
and calcium. Since lab test for either
of these are not particularly accurate or easy to
interpret, I usually suggest a therapeutic trial.
I suggest starting with magnesium. A dose of 100
to 150 mg of magnesium glycinate taken about an
hour before bed is a good start. You can take up
to 400mg/day - but this is best in divided doses
to avoid the laxative effect. If you see no result
from magnesium in 3 to 4 weeks, I would add calcium
at 500mg at bedtime. Try to find a product that
also supplies at least 400 IU of vitamin D. If this
still fails, the other nutrients I would look at
are iron and B12. These can both easily be tested
for with simple labs, and when deficient are associated
with night-time leg cramping." (7)