What Causes Charlie Horses?
HEY SAM: I’m training for a marathon, and keep getting cramps in my calf muscle at night while I sleep. What causes charlie horses?
-Natalie, Los Angeles
No one really knows what causes Charlie Horses (or leg cramps) but we know they often “run in the family” due to genetics. If you’ve been exercising more than normal, or engaging in strenuous activity, you’re more likely to get them. Studies show that about 70 percent of adults over 50 suffer from the occasional leg cramp in the middle of the night.
To reduce occurrences, drink more water during the day and make sure you are getting regular exercise and aren’t just a “weekend warrior.” Stretch your legs often during the day, especially if your occupation is sedentary. Some say taking a magnesium supplement helped reduce their problem, but the jury’s still out on whether or not this supplement really helps or if it’s a placebo effect. —Sam