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Natural Charley Horse Cures!

Natural Charley Horse Cures!

Ever wonder why a pain in your leg is called a  “Charley horse?” This term is all-American and no one seems to know exactly why we have such an interesting name for a leg cramp. Many credit America’s pastime, baseball.

Why Are They Called “Charley Horses”?

Some believe that the name came from a lame horse named Charley, who pulled the roller on the Chicago White Sox ballpark in the 1890s. Others say it has everything to do with baseball pitcher Charley Radbourn. His nickname was “Old Hoss” and stories say he got cramps during baseball games in the 1880s.

Wherever the name originated, these painful leg cramps are no fun. So what can you do when one strikes? Try some of these 7 home remedies for Charley horses:

Charley Horse Home Remedies

  1. Put your bare foot on a cold floor. Some say it will make a leg cramp disappear.
  2. As soon as the leg cramp happens, pull your toes up toward your knee and it may disappear.
  3. Magnesium oil is a good natural remedy for muscle cramps. Massage the oil into the cramp and it will be relieved within minutes.
  4. Take a swig of dill pickle juice.
  5. Mix a tablespoon of vinegar with a teaspoon of honey and drink up.
  6. Elevate the area. Try to raise the affected area by putting pillows under it or propping it on an armrest.
  7. Ice it. Ice may help calm down the muscle spasm. Place an ice pack or cool compress wrapped in a towel on the area the Charley horse is affecting. Keep it on for 10-15 minutes.

To Prevent Future Charley Horses:

  • Stretch regularly, especially before and after working out, and before bed.
  • Wear good, comfortable, supportive shoes.
  • Don’t overextend yourself. Whether working out or doing household chores, listen to your body and don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities.
  • Drink plenty of water on a regular basis. During workouts, or on very hot days, switch to a sports drink to replace electrolytes that are lost through your sweat.
  • Drink alcohol and coffee in moderation, as they can contribute to dehydration.
  • Eat foods that are rich in potassium and magnesium, such as whole grains, bananas, dates, raisins, apricots, cabbage, broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and fish.
  • Eat the recommended daily allowance of dairy products, such as milk and cheese, and talk to your doctor about whether you would benefit from a calcium supplement.
  • Make sure your bed sheets are loose. Tight-fitting sheets can force the legs and feet into awkward positions.

For most people, Charley horses are a mild and occasional annoyance. If you experience leg cramps on a regular basis, visit to your doctor. Frequent muscle spasms can indicate a more serious underlying condition requiring medical attention.

Do you have any home remedies for when a charley horse strikes? Share them with us in the comments below!

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  • Lisa Goodinson says:

    My husband says he’d rather suffer the pain than drink the dill pickle juice. He despises pickles so much! lol

  • alice martinez says:

    A simple white string works wonders and you wont get a charlie horse while you have it on. Put it on each of your ankles and leave it there..

  • Rebecca Norwood says:

    I was told be a retired semi driver to put a piece of cotton string around my ankles as I had Charlie horses so severe that my legs get bruises from them I have them over my entire body even my face and most of the time I’m crying uncontrollably from the massive pain. So I tried it. I did it on my rt leg first for a week to see if it really worked. I had Charlie horse in my left leg almost every night that first week and NOT ONE in my rt leg at all. So I put the string around my left ankle as well and it’s been 3 weeks in my rt n 2 weeks in my left leg without a single Charlie horse. An Indian medicine man told him to try this over 40 yrs ago and he has done it ever since and has not had 1 nope not even 1 Charlie horse since. Not quite sure how this works but it does!!!

  • B Daniell says:

    Drink a glass of orange juice, which has lots of potassium. If you’re diabetic, drink sugar-free Tonic water. Also, Hyland leg cramp disolvable pills. Leg cramps can be excruciatingly painful.

  • JD says:

    Two words. Tonic Water. Tastes awful but within 30 seconds it’s gone. I have terrible thigh Charlie Horses and the Quinine in the tonic water does the trick

  • JOY says:

    I found that by lifting the affected leg benefits best when I lift upward toward ceiling and use both hands to almost simultaneusly stroke down toward the heart in constant combination place a good grip around the middle arch. and pinch all toes at once while focusing pressure on the ball of the foot in rotation is a home run.

  • Nina says:

    Happy to see the last comment was made in Jan 2019.
    I get “charley horse” cramps in both my calves but never at the same time. I wake up at night in excruciating pain, where I am unable to even get up. I have prescription magnesium, and eat healthily. The cramp often brings tears as there is nothing I can do. I drink a gallon or 2 of water every day & have tried all of the above. Bar 1. Ivory soap. I can’t wrap my head around a bar of soap helping. Can any one explain how this could work?
    Personally I have noticed when I drink alkaline water instead of bottled water, they don’t occur as often. Cramps usually indicate a lack of sodium & I have only used Himalayan Salt for the past 10 yrs.
    The reason I’m commenting on this is because my calf muscle still hurts for up to 48 hours after the charley. It feels similar to over excercising & you wake up the next day unable to negotiate even the smallest flight of stairs. I can’t be the only one who has pain after the onslaught of such disabilitating muscle spasms? They never happen anywhere else in my body or while I’m awake.
    Suggestions or clarity anyone?

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Nina, we get many comments from our readers that they suffer from leg cramps like you describe, which is why we try to post this story on Facebook often. People find it helpful. Think of a back spasm, or a pulled muscle, the pain of which can last for days. The muscles in your legs suffer the same consequences and can be very painful until they heal. Try to stay off them and massage helps. We hope you’re getting some relief.

  • Darlene says:

    I agree with #15, my husband gets leg cramps and grabs the mustard. Works every time! Mustard works for other things too.

  • keith says:

    While checking remedys for leg cramps, It looked to me like not having enough potassium was the reason. I buy potassium pills and if I get a leg cramp at night, I take a couple and within minutes the cramp completely disappears.

  • Diane Briscoe says:

    As soon as the cramp begins, stand up and put weight on that foot, making sure full foot is in contact with the floor. Good-bye Charley Horse.

  • Ric says:

    For me it is a calcium thing. I noticed the connection that if/when I ran out of milk, the next day I could expect a horrendous leg cramp. Thus, I make sure not to run out of milk, and I have one large glassful (at least) every day. Even though I have yogurt and cheese almost daily, if I miss the milk the cramps happen, and they are very painful. With the milk I have not had any issues of cramping.

  • Debra H. says:

    Pinch the center of your upper lip as hard as you can take it and take deep slow breathes. Concentrate on the muscle and make your mind relax it.

  • Helina says:

    I am a nurse; I stand and walk miles a day. I would get horrible leg cramps. I now sleep with a bar of soap by my feet. Any brand works, just changed the soap every so often for a new bar when it stops working. It works for me.

    • RONNIE says:

      Why the bar of soap…

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Ronnie, it’s been a remedy passed down for generations. Scientifically, the jury is still out on it. Some chock it up to the placebo effect. Others think there might be an as-of-yet-to-be-identified molecule the soap is emitting.

  • Donna says:

    My liver doctors told me to drink Gator Adie. The G2 when possible. It replaces the potassium and magnesium we lose daily. I drink one every day or at least 3 to 4 a week. I haven’t had a leg cramp since the doctor said this will work

  • gloria says:

    I get cramps in muscles all over the body from neck to toes, sometimes more than one muscle at a time. Seen many doctors, even had nerve conduction tests done (more painful than the cramps, if you can imagine that!), was told by that specialist I had “severe muscle cramps.” Wow, brilliant diagnosis! I want to know how to prevent them. There are dozens of remedies for when they happen. I’ve tried every one of these remedies except the string around the ankle. Even if it’s psychological, which it most likely is, I’m about ready to try it. Why can’t science figure this out? My PC says, “oh I get them too, walk it off.” I’m so sleep deprived from “walking it off.” I want a preventative that works.

  • Brenda says:

    I use CoQ10 to combat the muscle spasms induced by the use of statins to lower my cholesterol. WORKS like a charm. I also cannot do extra calcium as I get kidney stones but the CoQ10 absolutely does the trick. I used to get muscle cramps in the middle of the night that woke me from a sound sleep and kept me awake for literally hours. Now I may get a mild one once in 2 or 3 months and it goes away in less than 5 minutes.

  • Mary says:

    The hardest part of dealing with “Charlie Horses” is breaking the cramp. I have had them so bad in my calves that I didn’t think I would be able to get off the ball of my foot with my entire weight on it. It gets scary sometimes!

  • Kate Sullivan says:

    Medical Marijuana is very specific for muscle cramps – and it does NOT take a lot at all. It has literally saved the life of my friend with MS. MM and muscle cramps or spasms is a match. This is not a comment on recreational use.

  • JoAnn says:

    So many great ideas. I have tried many except the soap, which I will try next. I take 1000u VitE, Magnesium 400mg and a prescription muscle relaxer at bed time and still get cramps. I get into a shower as hot as I can stand it when they strike. Sometime they strike 2 or 3 times a night. I have tried drinking a glass of salt water (suggested by a dr). The lingering pain/soreness for me responds to a muscle rub over the affected area. I have a prescription for Voltaren for arthritic pain and use it and it works well. I haven’t tried an OTC muscle rub but will if I am out of the other. I get cramps when I an tired, been on my feet too much and did to much walking. I also tried a Magnesium I bought on the internet that really helped. Good luck.

    • Kay Mott says:

      I too use the shower as hot as I can stand it for relief. It works! I get plenty of minerals in my diet, and most of my spasm come at night but not all. By elimination of high fructose corn syrup from my diet they have subsided to a tolerable amount.

  • Rick Berry Jr says:

    It’s not so much the dill or the pickle juice that helps it’s the mustard. Most if not all dill pickles have mustard seeds in them. What I do is take a teaspoon or two of mustard when cramps will not stop mostly at night is when it happens. if you want some sleep try it, works. Doesn’t sounds very good just drink some water or juice after. sleep well.

  • Londa says:

    CoQ 10 immediate care. Replaces the enzymes in your muscle you lose as your age. Especially if you’re on a cholesterol pill it depletes your system of Coq10 trust me it works hundred percent of the time.

    • Asia says:

      I only get a cramp once every couple of years. I got on here to determine if my cramp last night was due to the tums or the CoQ10 I unusually took before bed. These were the only 2 things different for me about last night.

  • E S C says:

    I have found pointing your toes toward your head works great for relieving charlie horses. I have gotten charlie horses that were so severe, my foot would get twisted into knots. I found that if I put my toes on a flat surface like my wall. Then roll my foot from toes to heel, till my toes were pointed towards my head. Then kept my foot in that position, till I felt my muscles in my leg begin to relax. It really works wonders.
    To prevent charlie horses from coming back in the future. Drink plenty of water and eat foods high in potassium. Although, because I have kidney disease. I have difficulty keeping the potassium from bananas in my system. So my kidney doctor prescribed me a supplement. It is working great, I haven’t had a charlie horse for a very long time.
    Though unrelated, I have another great tip for cyst, Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar and honey. Drink four shots a day for about 1 week. It will get rid of the cyst. It really does work. I have seen it with my own eyes. So if your doctor tells you that you need surgery to remove a cyst. Try this first. Hope this helps.
    I also keep Epsom salt in my house. It helps for a great many things. Like bee stings, splinters, a cut that has started to get infected etc. I call it the cure all.

  • Pat says:

    Take 400 units of magnesium daily and you won’t get leg cramps.
    If you forget your magnesium, tale 2-3 potassium pills when you get leg cramps. Pain will disappear in 1-2 minutes. I used to be up half the night walking on a cold floor. Potassium and magnesium have freed me from horrible leg cramps…sometimes even in my thighs.

    • Donna says:

      I take magnesium 500 mg -800 msg every night- I have taken this amount for 6 or more months- ‘but I have IBS and the magnesium creates dirreaha
      I am getting horrible thigh cramps for the last couple of weeks- so now what?

  • Paula says:

    I use Keith’s (# 11) remedy of pinching the gristle in your nose. I have been doing it for years and now very seldom even get a ‘charlie horse’. And if I do it is gone in seconds. Also there is no hard lump left over for hours like I used to have. My friends laugh at me but it works!!!!

  • patricia radakovich says:


    Laugh all you want but this is the only thing that works for me. Im 68 and discussed this prob. with my dr. All my levels are where they should be. I stretch and I exercise. Here you go.. Bar of Ivory soap has to be Ivory. open it up and place it between the fitted sheet and the mattress pad/cover replace about every 4 months. Laugh all you want but my grandmother used to do it and to this day it works for my family

  • jean savage says:

    Take a teaspoon of mustard and the cramp will disappear

  • Shirley Sherman says:

    I eat two fresh dates every day, they are rich in potassium .

  • Karen Ard says:

    2% of your calcium is in your bloodstream. If you lack that, you will get cramps. I take a calcium supplement w/vit D & K and magnesium. Immediate relief. Also take 1 if I feel a headache coming on!

  • Kathy says:

    I get leg cramps sometimes at night, sitting on the couch even while I’m driving. My husband brought me a magnet home from work. He said a man he works with gets them all the time and he puts a magnet on the affected area and hold it until it go away. I tried the magnet and within secounds it was going away. Sometimes I tape the magnet to the area to keep it from coming back. I have a magnet in my purse at all times.
    it works

  • Agustus says:

    I suffer with severe legs cramps a lot, more in summer. hylands leg cramps with quinine homeopathic pills are the first line of defense.taking b-complex, and magnesium 3 times daily keeps the cramps a little more controlled.mine are so bad, I have had to pull of the road while driving. Walking daily is very helpful along with chiropractic care. These spasms are extremely painful,and the magnesium is always carried where I go.

  • Susan Nikolaus says:

    Eat a banana everyday and no more cramps! It contains potassium which is what the body needs to prevent cramps.

  • Gracie says:

    I’m diabetic, when my blood sugar level skyrockets, it causes dehydration which causes leg cramps. I will take one magnesium tablet, 1 potassium tablet and a baby aspirin to thin my blood, works like a charm. One must be careful with mag. and potassium – my doctor stated it can be dangerous if you go overboard with either one of these.

  • dianne says:

    Apply Magnesium oil directly to the site of the cramp. It’ll work very quickly. It’s not expensive either.

  • Debra Nelson says:

    my husband kicks at night with leg cramps.my dad told me about the soap between the sheets so I thought why not. I didnt tell my husband this was a test for me! Well he stopped kicking and shaking the bed yahoo! One day discovered the bar of soap and asked what is this?
    I told him it was to keep spiders off the bed…. he was fine with that once again yahoo.
    Changing the bed linen the bar of soap fell under the bed and I didn’t retrieve it. Time went by and I noticed the kicking started again….I replaced the soap… kick free sleeping again.
    Now the interesting thing is my husband has no idea he was in my test. He is just happy we don’t have spiders in bed.

  • Leen says:

    It is almost 3am and I cannot sleep. I can feel cramps coming in both legs. Does the mustard thing really work??

  • Keith says:

    Take Leg Cramps away in 10 – 20 seconds

    Under the middle of your nose , if you push up and feel the gristle

    and pinch the gristle with your finger nails ( thumb & index finger )

    as hard as you can until you get tears in your eyes and keep pinvhing hard !

    Your leg cramp will go away in 10 -20 seconds . Now the best part is ,

    every time you get a leg cramp over the next year or two , you pinch the

    gristle hard & hold it until the leg cramp goes away.then after that it stays

    indented and your are leg cramp free for many , many years . It also helps

    if you eat more fruit every day .

    In my teens , I used to get frequently bad leg cramps and suffered in agony.

    Until one day I was reading ” The National Enquirer ” and found this

    cure for taking leg cramps away . I was so desperate that I was willing to try

    anything and it worked . That was over 40 years ago and I’ve been sharing

    it with everybody . Last year I went to a Health Fair an Acupuncturist

    agreed with me that it works , she also said if you pinch anywhere in

    an oval shape below your nose that would work as well , she

    suggested one of your lips to pinch . But that would hurt more and leave a

    visible mark .

  • Jackie says:

    Apple cider vinegar in some water. By the time you get it down, the pain is gone.

  • Akindra says:

    In the late 70’s I attended the university california riverside. For several years I weekly went to the physical education stretch class led by the head of the dept. Many of us would get tetany and muscle cramps! The teacher would grab the skin above our upper lip and firmly pull it from right to left several times. Miracle cure! Still use it today!

  • Julie says:

    Walk it out. Works for me. What I would like to know is how do you get the sore muscle to go away?

  • josephine says:

    take tonic water .I take aglass in morning an at night before bed it helps.

  • Ruthie Farriester says:

    My sister told me to try 1/4 teaspoon no-salt, 1/4 t. sugar and 1/4 t. of salt in a 1/3 cup of water. Within less than 5 minutes my cramps are gone.

  • Deborah says:

    If I done the one Where you draw your toes toward your knees, I’d end up with cramps in my foot as well.

  • tabitha says:

    Salt..my family swears by it..it thins the blood or something idk..we grab a hand full of salt and eat it lol..u gotta try it

  • Susanne Fagot says:

    I used Hylands (brand) quick dissolving leg cramp tablets, works GREAT and i have really Bad leg cramps

  • Misty says:

    I had terrible leg cramps when I was pregnant, the only thing that I found to work was to not think about the cramp or even think about flinching my leg muscle and apply pressure on the affected muscle. They would usually pass as long as I laid real still. Later in life, I met a woman who said that she got leg cramps almost every night, she would force herself to walk to the kitchen to eat 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard just by itself. By the time she would get back to bed the cramp was gone every time. I told a couple people about this they tried it and it worked for them too almost immediately. Something that I don’t understand by reading these comments is how so many other remedies works for the same thing. A bar of soap, magnesium, salt, drinking water, apple cidar vinegar, i assume it’s regular white vinegar, tonic water, sugar, calcium, chocolate milk (which has calcium), muscle rub, tums, a piece of thread around the ankle, warm compress, put feet on a cold floor, etc the list goes on and on but none of these have any one thing in common so how can they work for one and not the other? Do you guys think that there are actually many different causes for leg cramps or it’s just that all of our bodies are different and process things different?

  • Susan Stokes says:

    I get Charlie horses so bad , my son can’t straighten my leg. He actually stood on my leg to force my leg straight. Apple cider vinegar works in 30 seconds or less. You can drink a cap full or apply the vinegar directly on the cramp. I have not found anything that works as fast as this method.

  • Deanna Rose says:

    Tonic water….it has quinine in it. You can purchase sugar free diet tonic water. 8 to 12 ounces. Works within 15 minutes. Been having leg cramps (and foot cramps) for years…the only thing that reliably relieves the cramps is tonic water.

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