How to Get Rid of a Charley Horse

Two Methods:Treating ImmediatelyPreventing Future Charley Horses

One horse that nobody wants is the charlie horse—that wickedly painful cramping of your leg muscles that will stop you in the middle of whatever you're doing. It can happen on any part of your leg, and always at the least opportune of times. Help yours to go away fast and prevent future charley horses by using the techniques described below.

Method 1
Treating Immediately

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    Massage the muscles. Charley horses are typically experienced in the calf, feet, and sometimes thighs; massage these areas to help reduce the pressure and painful cramping. Use medium pressure with your thumbs and fingertips in a circular motion at both the direct area of pain and slightly above it to improve circulation. Continue this for a few minutes until the pain subsides or you wish to move onto another treatment.
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    Stretch. Your muscles have become constricted as a result of spasms, so stretching will help to relax and soften them. Performing one or several stretches which elongate the muscles in the affected area should help to provide quick relief.
    • Stand up straight, and then get into a lunging position, with your back leg being the one experiencing the charley horse. Straighten out your back leg while keeping your front leg bent. This will force your weight onto the toes of your back leg; you can lean forward onto your bent knee slightly if it is more comfortable.
    • Sit down on your bed or the floor, and put your legs straight in front of you. Lock your knees, and point your toes back towards your face. Grab the toes and pull your foot backwards slightly on the leg you’re experiencing the charley horse on.
    • Stand up straight on your tippy-toes and hold it for as long as you can manage. This will stretch the calf muscles and reduce the spasming. Take a break every few seconds and then continue stretching.[1]
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    Take a bath. Fill your bathtub with warm water and epsom salts and take a soak for 10-20 minutes. The heat and the salts will work together to soothe your tight muscles and distract you from the pain.
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    Elevate the area. Raise the affected area by propping it up on pillows or the armrest of a chair or couch. Elevating the area will help to improve your circulation and move blood to/from the spasming area more effectively.
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    Use a little ice. To calm down the muscle spasms, use an ice pack or cool compress on the area you’re experiencing the charley horse. Never apply ice directly, but wrap it in a towel or bandage before placing it on your skin. Do this for 5-15 minutes for the best results.

Method 2
Preventing Future Charley Horses

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    Stretch regularly. If you are exercising or working out on a regular basis, proper stretching beforehand can prevent strain and future charley horses. Stretch for 2-5 minutes before performing any exercise. The best stretches for charlie horse prevention include quad stretches and lunges.
    • To perform a quad stretch, stand straight up and bend one knee. Continue bending your knee as far as you can, and then grab your foot behind you and hold it for ten seconds.
    • To do a lunge, get in a kneeling position on the ground so that one leg is bent at the knee and you are resting completely on the other calf. Then, raise yourself off the ground so that both of your legs are bent. Do multiple lunges by walking around the room in that position, going back and forth between legs.
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    Consume more potassium. Low potassium levels are related to an increased likelihood of muscle spasms and cramps. Eat potassium-containing foods at least once a day including bananas, avocados, and oranges. You can also look into getting potassium supplements from a local health foods store.
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    Consume more calcium and magnesium. These vitamins work hand in hand in preventing muscle cramps and keeping your body in tip-top shape. Make sure you’re consuming enough calcium and magnesium by supplementing your diet with these minerals in the tablet form or in the foods you eat. Dairy products and nuts are full of the combo.[2]
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    Keep hydrated. When sodium levels in your blood are high, it affects your muscles and circulation. Keep your sodium levels low by drinking plenty of water on a regular basis. When you’re working out, supplement your intake of water with sports drinks that have added electrolytes.
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    Avoid diuretics. Anything that causes you to urinate more will reduce the amount of water and electrolytes in your body, a no-go for muscle cramps. Avoid drinking too much caffeine and don’t take any pills that cause frequent urination whenever possible.


  • If you experience Charley horses on a frequent basis and treatment doesn't seem to be working, visit your doctor to find out if there is a more serious issue causing the muscle spasms.
  • If you experience muscle cramps frequently after exercise, try hydrating with pickle juice, Gatorade, or another electrolyte-filled drink.
  • Do squats with someone holding your hand, but stop at points.
  • If it is not too serious, and the pain has ebbed away a bit, try walking around in a normal fashion .

Article Info

Categories: Cramps | Warm Ups Stretching and Flexibility