What to do when a charley horse strikes
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being stuck in charley horse hell, there are a few tricks you can use to fight off the beast.
First, if you've just woken up and you're in bed with shooting pain in your leg, stand up. This will promote blood flow and kickstart circulation again. The same goes if you've been sitting too long.
Next, bust out the foam roller or start stretching your muscles. Applying direct heat can also help the muscle relax, followed by ice to ease the pain.
While you don't need to add a bunch of silly bubbles to enjoy the effects, soaking in an epsom salt bath -- especially after a grueling or extended workout -- helps prevent charley horses from happening in the first place, and can provide relief if you're mid-attack and happen to have an epsom salt bath ready. Otherwise, you might want to give something spicy a shot; there's some new evidence that suggests a mixture of chilies and ginger could help relieve cramping, albeit the kind you get from prolonged physical activity.
If all else fails and you still feel nagging soreness after a few hours or over a day, you might as well pop an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Keep in mind that another preventative measure you can take is to drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after exercising. You may even need to up your potassium or electrolyte intake to combat the issue. And once you get it figured out, you can enjoy making it through the night without a violent, stabbing pain interrupting your slumber.