How Runners Can Treat And Prevent Charley Horses

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We provide ways to treat—and prevent—those obnoxious leg cramps known as “charley horses” that always seem to take us by surprise.

It’s a runner’s worst nightmare—you’re running the last mile of a marathon you’ve spent months training for and you’re stuck with a debilitating leg cramp. For readers unaware of what a charley horse is, it’s the name for a leg cramp that is severely painful. One moment you’re flying, the next you’re hobbled, in agony. For years we pointed fingers at dehydration or electrolyte loss as the culprits. But neither cause holds up to close examination. Studies on ultra-distance runners and triathletes indicate that neither hydration nor electrolyte status is directly associated with cramping—even if you seem to cramp more on hot days. Conventional wisdom fails again.It’s easy to wonder: why charley horses occur in the first…

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