Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh, you Charley Horse!

The past few nights I've been woken up with leg cramps, or Charley horses as they're often called. Does anyone else have these? I don't get them regularly, but the past 4 nights I have, so I was a little concerned as to why. I've always thought they were caused by a lack of potassium. Since I take a multivitamin everyday, I didn't think that was the case for me. Last night I read that having hypothyroidism can cause these types of night leg cramps. I've been on thyroid meds for years and since I don't have the cramps regularly, that couldn't be it either. So, what could be the cause?

The only thing I can think of is exercise. I exercise everyday. I use some hand weights and resistant bands for about 10 minutes, followed by 30 minutes on a Bowflex TreadClimber. After that I ride a recumbent bike for another 30 minutes, usually with some ankle weights on my feet. The only thing I could think of was that the past 3 nights I hadn't done my exercises because I'd been up late working on our school yearbooks. I figured the cramps might have been from the change in exercising, or lack of it in my case. The last time I had them was about a week ago when we were camping in Yellowstone. Again, I had missed my exercise the night before.

However, last night I did exercise and this morning I still woke up with a cramp. Now I'm back to being baffled. Maybe I need more potassium. Maybe I should take magnesium supplements. Maybe I need to drink more water. Who knows. All I know is that these stupid things hurt like hell. Once my calf starts to tighten up, it's really hard to relax to stop the cramp from coming on full blown. I've read not to stretch it out during the cramp because that can cause a tear in the muscle. Ouch. That doesn't sound like fun.

I was curious why they called them "Charley horses" so I looked it up. Mind you, this is from Wikipedia, so I'm not sure how accurate it is. It says it's an American slang term that dates from the 1880s and it might be referring to an old pitcher named Charley Radbourne who suffered from leg cramps. There's another reference to a horse named Charley that used to work at Comiskey Park, the Chicago White Sox's baseball stadium. It said in those days an old, retired horse was often called Charlie. Like I said, I don't know if that's true, but it's interesting.

Does anyone else get these Charley horses at night?


  1. Yes, I used to get them frequently....even in my feet between my last two toes! Ugh! I've added more protein and water to my diet and it seems to work. Just a thought. :) I feel for you. Hugs, Miss Rena!

  2. My friend gets them but it's a side effect of Tamoxifen. (An estrogen blocker for estrogen driven breast cancer patients.) She says they're excrutiating. Makes sleep very difficult.

    I hope you figure out the problem fast!