A charley horse can be caused by a direct blow or sudden stretch of the muscle, but most of the time they’re caused by strain or fatigue during exercise.
Overworking your abdominal muscles could cause them to spasm. Spasms due to muscle strain are most likely to occur in people who do strenuous and frequent exercise, especially crunches and situps. Other symptoms of muscle strain are: tenderness or pain in your abs.
These spasms are marked by uncomfortable muscle contractions. If the contracting muscles don’t relax for several seconds or more, the pain can be severe. Severe charley horses can result in muscle soreness that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a day. This is normal, so long as the pain isn’t prolonged or recurring.
A DVT blood clot can cause a calf cramp that feels a lot like a charley horse. Like leg pain, the cramping sensation with DVT will persist and even worsen with time. It won’t clear up with stretching or walking it off like an ordinary charley horse.
If you have a cramp, these actions may provide relief:
Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to leg cramps. Diuretics — medications often prescribed for high blood pressure — also can deplete these minerals.
Leg cramps at night, or nocturnal leg cramps, are common and can occur due to inactivity during the day, tired muscles, or certain medical conditions. Leg cramps, also called charley horses, are uncontrolled spasms in the muscles of the leg that may be painful.
Muscle cramps, or “charley horses” as they are sometimes called, are extremely common and occur when muscles involuntarily contract and cannot relax. The most notorious sites for cramps are the calves, thighs and arch of the foot. Cramps in the hands, arms, abdomen and along the rib cage are also very common.
Magnesium is a widely used remedy for leg cramps.
Muscle spasms range in intensity from mild twitches to severe pain. The spastic muscle may feel harder than normal to the touch, and/or appear visibly distorted. It may show visible signs of twitching. Spasms may typically last from seconds to 15 minutes or longer, and may recur multiple times before going away.
Nocturnal Leg Cramp Prevention
Muscle cramps or spasms occur when muscles involuntarily contract and cannot relax. The term charley horse has been used to refer to painful muscle cramps, particularly when they occur in the leg.