1

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Charlie Horses: Cause, Relief, & Prevention?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 22, 2013 at 1:17 PM

For the past couple of weeks, I have been getting Charlie horses in my toes and feet pretty frequently at night.

They hit me after I've laid down in bed, and tend to aggravate me for at least an hour.

It is definitely inhibiting my sleep.

  1. What is the cause of Charlie horses? Is it related to dehydration and electrolytes?

  2. Is there a way I can prevent them from happening?

  3. How can I relieve them once they hit?

Thank you for your time and information.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:58 PM

I like to drink coconut water on occasion, so this might be a good case where it merits being medicinally used. Real, non-highly processed sea salt is your best bet for a broad spectrum of salty minerals. But honestly, salt is pretty basic - even the major brands have "sea salt" (even optionally iodized) offerings now.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:54 PM

Same here. I rub magnesium oil in the places where I tend to get cramps.

97d98cdf2f18fa2c0bd8567ea1159609

(1047)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:26 PM

greymouser - Thank you for your informative response. This may be an odd question, but is there a specific type of salt that is better than others to add to my food? Would mineral and/or electrolyte enhanced water be best?

97d98cdf2f18fa2c0bd8567ea1159609

(1047)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:24 PM

Intellectual Savage - Thank you for your post. See below what 'greymouser' responded with for information related to cramping and charlie horses. Also, I would be careful with the dairy, I am unaware of any benefit it would have with this issue at hand. Since going Paleo back in November, I only consume dairy infrequently. I usually only consume it if I don't have any other options (for instance when I visit my non-paleo family out of town).

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3 Answers

best answer

1
Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 22, 2013
at 02:51 PM

1) What is the cause of Charlie horses? Is it related to dehydration and electrolytes?

Yup, that's the common culprit. Requisite levels of calcium and potassium are the most likely lacking minerals. A modern paleo diet effected by most people may end up being too low in sodium and potassium if you aren't careful about eating a broad spectrum of foods. Honestly, just salt your food - it's quick and easy! :-)

2) Is there a way I can prevent them from happening?

Maintain a diet high in a broad spectrum of minerals. When exercising, don't push yourself too far (this will vary for everyone), and maintain hydration during exercise with plenty of water. If you are a serious athlete, you may consider mixing your own "sports drink" out of real foods (coconut water is a good base for this) with salts and some sugars added, but I don't think most need to go this far.

3) How can I relieve them once they hit?

Deep breaths, and massage the area effected. A hot compress may help as well.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:58 PM

I like to drink coconut water on occasion, so this might be a good case where it merits being medicinally used. Real, non-highly processed sea salt is your best bet for a broad spectrum of salty minerals. But honestly, salt is pretty basic - even the major brands have "sea salt" (even optionally iodized) offerings now.

97d98cdf2f18fa2c0bd8567ea1159609

(1047)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:26 PM

greymouser - Thank you for your informative response. This may be an odd question, but is there a specific type of salt that is better than others to add to my food? Would mineral and/or electrolyte enhanced water be best?

1
8f2d9842fdfec224a425c0f77c4ee34d

(1241)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:44 PM

I'm not sure exactly what causes them, but I know from experience that magnesium is a miracle cure.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:54 PM

Same here. I rub magnesium oil in the places where I tend to get cramps.

0
96d492bc621cf194ec53acd8084dadb0

on February 22, 2013
at 02:44 PM

I don't have an answer for you, but I also would like to learn a little bit more between the connection of paleo and cramping. I had the absolute worst charlie horses in my life when I was mountain biking on paleo. I've since added dairy, but I don't know if it's helped or not, because I'm no longer living in an area where I can go mountain biking.

I'm personally not interested in taking supplements. I would rather supplement my diet, even if the missing ingredients slips outside of accepted paleo/primal parameters. A large part of the appeal of paleo for me is the narrative that we are eating incorrectly, and proper diet is the cure to most of what ails us. If my diet alone fails to meet those requirements, I prefer to add particular foods to my diet rather than powders.

97d98cdf2f18fa2c0bd8567ea1159609

(1047)

on February 22, 2013
at 03:24 PM

Intellectual Savage - Thank you for your post. See below what 'greymouser' responded with for information related to cramping and charlie horses. Also, I would be careful with the dairy, I am unaware of any benefit it would have with this issue at hand. Since going Paleo back in November, I only consume dairy infrequently. I usually only consume it if I don't have any other options (for instance when I visit my non-paleo family out of town).

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