8 Natural Remedies for Leg Cramps, Muscle Spasms & the Dreaded Charley Horse

What do muscle spasms, leg cramps, and Charley Horses have in common? They can make your life a temporary hell, and they are very elusive. Essentially, there is very little difference between the three. In fact, you might even say that Charley Horses is just the pretty Australian term for leg cramps because it sounds a lot more pleasant than it really is. And the difference between a cramp and a spasm only really comes down to intensity.

So, if you’ve been bothered by muscle spasms, leg cramps, and Charley Horses lately, this could be a useful article. Not only will you learn more about the source of the problem, but you’ll also walk away with 8 natural remedies.

A Little More About Leg Cramps and Spasms…

It doesn’t take Wikipedia to tell you that millions upon millions of people suffer from leg cramps and muscle spasms. But if you really want to get specific, it is estimated that between 50 and 60% of adults experience cramps. And the odds increase as they get older. As for children, about 7% of them will have their share of painful nights.

However, it’s something people learn to live with, given that it’s considered harmless and typically only lasts about 9 minutes (even though the pain can stick around for up to 24 hours).

Plus, it’s not something you suffer from every day. Unless you are reading this article, of course. Then it probably means those Charley Horses are running wilder than they should, and you are the victim of the stampede. And you are probably dying to find something that can help you manage them.

As expected, there is no medication for spasms and cramps. And only in severe cases will over-the-counter painkillers provide a little relief. But for the most part, they shouldn’t alarm you in any way. Chances are it will pass on its own, and you can expect them to get more frequent as you get older.

You should also know that there is no clear or established source for leg cramps. There are theories, such as:

  • Muscle fatigue and nerve dysfunction
  • The way you sleep
  • Not enough exercise or squatting activities, which leads to muscle loss

In some cases, they can be caused by an underlying problem. But given the lack of clinical proof and finding the exact source, this list is quite extensive.

Now that you know a little more about muscle spasms and cramps, it’s time to go through those 8 natural home remedies.

8 Natural Remedies That Can Offer Some Relief

As mentioned earlier, a lot of people are going to have a problem with leg cramps, and there is no straight answer for everyone. But the following natural remedies might help you treat and prevent them from keeping you up at night, which is a very common time for them to strike.

1. Try Magnesium Supplements

One way to naturally treat muscle spasms is to increase your magnesium levels. This is an element that gets created naturally inside the body (brain, bones, muscles), but sometimes you need a little bit more.

Research shows that magnesium helps muscles to relax, and hopefully, bring some relief to cramping problems. In terms of how you can increase your magnesium levels, there are certain foods you can eat. They include:

  • Soybeans
  • Kelp
  • Brown rice
  • Shrimp
  • Dates
  • Nuts
  • Garlic

Alternatively, you can buy magnesium supplements, which come in pill or syrup form.

2. Increase Calcium Intake

a pitcher of milk in front of a field of sunflowers

From an early age, you learn you should drink milk and eat cheese. And guess what, your parents were right. Dairy products contain calcium, which is crucial for strong bones and muscles. And if you find that you are suffering from cramps on a regular basis, it could be related to a lack of calcium.

Seeing as this will be an issue for vegans, and respectively so, there are supplements and alternatives you can use to gain calcium levels.

3. Use a Warm Washcloth

Even though a cramp or spasm will likely last a few minutes, the pain is going to linger. For some people, the pain can remain for an hour, while others walk around all day feeling the sting.

So, if you were wondering what’s the point of using a warm washcloth when the cramp is over in a few minutes, don’t forget about the pain afterward.

The heat of the washcloth is going to be absorbed by the skin and it will go directly to the muscles, which can bring immediate relief. Although, if the pain carries on for a full 24-hours, you’ll need to do it several times.

4. More Vitamin E

It’s a common belief among athletes and sports professionals that a lack of vitamin E can typically lead to a lot of cramping and spasm problems. This is also why you’ll typically find a lot of vitamin E in their diets. And not only can vitamin E reduce the frequency with which cramps appear, but it will help to maintain healthy muscles.

If this is a natural remedy you want to try, incorporate the following into your diet, or find a high-quality supplement.

  • Plant Oils
  • Spinach
  • Tofu
  • Nuts
  • Broccoli
  • Pumpkins
  • Avocados
  • Sunflower Seeds

5. Increase Potassium Intake

Another common theory among experts is that a lack of potassium can result in muscle spasms and leg cramps. Thus, you should think about getting more potassium in your diet. If you don’t know already, bananas serve as a very rich source and are readily available.

If you want to try an alternative because you can’t eat bananas, try apple cider vinegar tonic. When you drink it on a regular basis, it might just reduce the intervals of your leg cramps.

6. Try Massage

a woman getting a massage

The first thing that jumps to mind once you start to feel the symptoms of a leg cramp is to start massaging the area. And you are definitely on the right track because a good and deep massage can really help the muscle to relax.

Unfortunately, you are looking at a short-term solution. Even though a massage will have an almost instant effect, it is not going to prevent the cramps from coming back.

So, it is recommended to use a massage as an additional remedy. In fact, nothing is stopping you from combining as many of these remedies as you want. But as a tip, opt to use a special topical cream to help heat up the muscle. You might even find some oils that work effectively, especially if the massage alone doesn’t provide enough relief.

7. Find The Magic of Ginger

Mentioned earlier was the power of magnesium, and you will find that ginger is a great natural resource. And the best part is that you can consume ginger in just about any way it suits you because it is going to have a natural warming effect on your muscles. Why? Because it promotes blood flow.

If you are looking for a long-term remedy, then make ginger part of your lifestyle. And talking about lifestyle, it brings us to the last natural remedy.

8. Become More Active

Muscle loss is a usually associated with leg cramps and spasms. And according to experts, you start to lose muscle when you hit your mid-forties. This is why leg cramps are more prone to strike as you age, and why it can happen sooner rather than later.

One of the best ways that you can prevent cramps from becoming an issue in your life is to get active. This doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym every day, seven days a week. But it does mean participating in activities that will help to maintain and build muscle strength.

If you don’t like cardio or high-intensity training, consider yoga or pilates. But even just walking briskly a few minutes every day can prevent cramps from striking.

At the same time, you don’t want to overextend yourself. Because just as good as exercise can be, too much of it will put unnecessary stress on your muscles and joints. And as you can imagine, this will probably only make the situation worse.

Final Thoughts: Try To Find The Source Of The Problem

While cramps and spasms shouldn’t really alarm you, there could be an underlying condition or disorder that’s causing it. And if you are constantly suffering from painful cramping, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or healthcare professional.

But given that the source can be a multitude of things, try to take note when they occur. Is it usually after training? Because a lot of athletes have cramp problems when their bodies aren’t conditioned enough. It could even be your diet or just a lack of exercising the muscle.

Once you find the source of the problem, it will be easier to target it in a natural way. But don’t get too frustrated if you don’t find the source immediately, seeing as even medical professionals have difficulty finding a cure.