Rough treatment for a charliehorse


Once or twice a year, I will wake to a charlie-horse. In my leg. I always instinctively pound the offending muscle group with my fist. I’d like to know if this is a universal instinct, and if so, why? Honestly, it doesn’t ever seem to accomplish much besides causing me to hurt in a different manner.

— Laurens

Leg cramps are a major bummer and, as far as I know, just about everyone goes straight to some kind of a massage to try and get relief. Whether that’s instinctive (because people have evolved with leg cramps) or culturally conditioned (because massage and musculoskeletal discomfort go hand-in-hand in popular consciousness) is anybody’s guess. Folksy home remedies for leg cramps abound, but my favorite is, without a doubt, putting a bar of soap underneath the sheets when you go to sleep at night. Apparently, it works for a lot of people!

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Putting a bar of soap where? Underneath the sheets? And this works how? Is there a special incantation that one needs to recite while placing the soap? Matthew? You trying to slip something by us here?

I have no idea how or why it works, but there are actual doctors out there who lend credence to the idea that slipping a bar of soap (Dove, Ivory, Irish Spring or otherwise) under one's bedsheets keeps nighttime leg cramps away.

If you want to add a little prayer to Sesquahtaaxyyzzzll (the ancient Sumerian god of charlie horses, go ahead, look him up) to make sure, be my guest.

Quinine works, but you can't get a prescription anymore. I think they have it in Canada and Mexico, though. Also, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar added to a beverage (like juice or tea) can also help.

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