In short, a charley horse is an alternative name for a muscle spasm. While they can attack just about any muscle in the body, they most commonly occur in legs.
You could be out for a walk when a charley horse flares up. Or even when you’re in the middle of drifting off to sleep. Your calf tightens up and you’re potentially in a lot of pain. So what causes charley horses and muscle cramps? Here are the most common culprits:
- Poor blood circulation
- Inadequate amount of stretching
- Not drinking enough water
- Exercising in hot weather
- Overworking calf muscles
- Deficiencies in potassium or magnesium
Best Essential Oils For a Charley Horse
Charley horses and leg cramps can typically be treated at home, particularly when they aren’t a frequent occurrence (in rare circumstances, they might require medical attention).
Before outlining the best essential oils for these pains, here are a few additional tactics to consider:
- Potassium and magnesium deficiencies can contribute to electrolyte imbalances, which in turn can cause muscle spasms. Ensure that you are getting your nutrients and aim to add more B vitamins to your diet.
- Maintaining an active lifestyle can help prevent muscle spasms because more physically-fit people typically have more muscle mass and less inflammation.
- Stretching and massaging your muscles is a key factor when exercising. Proper cool-downs and warm-ups can prevent your muscles from straining or becoming overly fatigued.
- Since dehydration can cramp up your muscles, it is important to drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day. Be sure to drink enough based on your body weight.
- If you’re dealing with pain or tightness, heat can relax those muscles. Also, applying an ice pack to painful or swollen areas can also help.
Now, for the top essential oils for charley horses and muscle cramps…
Considered the most popular and often used essential oil, lavender is chalked with therapeutic sweetness. Among its many benefits, lavender has a lengthy history of treating muscle pains and aches, making it a great remedy for cramps and spasms. An added benefit of lavender is its stress-relieving properties. This is important as anxiety and lack of sleep can spark physical distress.
Thyme oil is well known for its respiratory and digestive benefits. But it has a plethora of other applications. Massaging thyme into the body can help relieve muscle pains, cramps, and spasms. Note that this is a very potent oil. Therefore, be especially diligent in diluting the oil with enough carrier oil.
Harboring powerful antispasmodic properties, marjoram oil can help relieve muscular pain and involuntary spasms. It is also known to help people with migraines, arthritis, and rheumatism.
Among peppermint’s most notorious benefits are digestive health, respiratory health, and improved energy. But it also contains anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that can help kill off pain, spasms, and cramps.
Last but not least, fennel. Distilled from the crushed seeds of the fennel plant, this oil also contains antispasmodic properties that help relax muscles, nerves, and respiratory spasms. Additionally, studies suggest that fennel can ease pain from migraines, menstrual cramps and other period symptoms.
How to Best Apply Oils For Leg Cramps
Now that you know which essential oils are best for charley horses and muscle cramps, it’s important to know the best ways to apply them.
Note that you can combine oils to maximize the results. Once you’ve decided on your oils, here are a few ways to apply them:
- Topical: Massaging oils into the affected areas is great for isolated areas of discomfort. Dilute a few drops of your oil (or mixture of oils) with a carrier oil (coconut, jojoba, etc.) before applying.
- Bath Soak: Adding a few drops of essential oil to a warm bath is a relaxing way to ease your pain. Add 6 to 10 drops of your oil(s) to a warm bathtub and let your muscles soak for at least 10 minutes.
- Compress: A hot or cold compress is another great way to relieve muscular cramps and spasms. To make a hot compress, dip a towel in hot water, ring out excess water and add 6 to 10 drops of essential oil. To make a cold compress, soak a towel in cold water, ring out excess water, and wrap around an ice pack. Add 6 to 10 drops of your oil and apply to the impacted muscles.