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Charlie Horse is a colloquial name for muscle spasms. Typically, people use this name to refer to the muscle spasms in the legs, which manifest as contractions without human will or control. This phenomenon is also known under names dead leg, granddaddy or chopper. People in Australia call it corked thigh or "corky." Charlie Horse can affect anyone, especially after an injury, hard labor or vigorous exercise. However, it is also common during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Charlie Horse

Charlie Horse typically manifests as sudden tightness in a muscle. People often describe it as having a tied knot in the leg. These painful muscle cramps can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a couple of hours, varying in intensity. Some people may use this name to refer to the bruising of the tights or contusion of the femur. Charlie Horse typically lasts less than one minute, and some patients experience these cramps only at night. Sometimes the pain is so severe that it wakes up the patient and disrupts the normal sleep. 

Causes of Charlie Horse

Charlie Horse occurs for many different reasons. In most of the cases people will experience this annoyance after strenuous exercise, if their muscles are over-stretching. Even wearing the wrong shoes can put the excessive pressure on the muscles and result in cramping. However, many other things, including hormonal imbalances, dehydration, or low levels of electrolytes such as potassium or calcium, can cause muscle cramps in the legs. Some medications are also known to disrupt normal bodily functions and cause Charlie Horse. However, muscle cramps in the legs can indicate more serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or neuropathy. Old people and pregnant women are most commonly affected.

Dealing with the Charlie Horse

The easiest way to prevent muscle cramps is to take enough water daily. Three full big glasses of water are recommended each day, but one should adjust this quantity depending on the level of physical activity and weather conditions. 

It is also important to get used to simple stretching exercises. This simple routine is a fantastic way to relax the muscles and improve the natural range of motion. Exercise should be light and relaxing and never too vigorous. Even the lightest physical exercise, such as basic yoga positions, requires adequate warm-up session before the workout begins. It is important to gradually build an exercise program and increase the strength and the level of depth naturally. Sudden changes in exercise routine will most probably result in cramping.

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