Foot cramps are involuntary muscle spasms that cause debilitating pain in the arch of your foot or back of your calf. The spasms can occur while you are on the couch relaxing, sleeping or even in the middle of a workday. Though foot cramps occur more frequently in the elderly, or in people with an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, they also occur in healthy people.
Foot cramps are usually harmless, but can cause you great discomfort and immobilize you temporarily. If the cramps are occurring too often, you should schedule a visit to a foot doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
What causes foot cramps?
Though considered a benign condition, foot cramps can be a real nuisance. Understanding the cause of the spasms is often the key to knowing how to manage them. In most cases, failure to stretch your foot or intense exertion such as running or walking will reduce blood circulation to the feet, resulting in violent spasms.
Injury or trauma to the foot, improper footwear and muscle fatigues are also common causes of this condition. Other conditions such as dehydration, hormone imbalance, malnutrition or obesity could also be underlying causes of frequent and intense foot cramps. Overworking your feet without getting enough hydration and nutrients is very likely to result in spasms, which is why athletes are often affected.
By eating foods that improve muscle function such as bananas, vegetables, yogurt and cheese, and stretching your feet before getting in and out of bed, you can reduce the occurrence of foot cramps. You should also use footwear that does not stress your feet, especially when walking, and always warm up slowly before engaging in exerting exercise routines. These steps, combined with good hydration and adequate body rest, should be enough to help reduce foot cramping.
For assistance on finding the proper shoes to keep your feet in good shape, contact a company like The Podiatry Center.
What to do in the middle of a cramp
One minute you're fine—and the next, pain strikes! So what do you do to ease the grip of a foot cramp?
Begin by stretching and flexing the arch or calf, depending on where the pain is located. Then pull the entire foot and ankle up and out, as this will help increase blood flow to the affected muscles and reduce the pain. Then, try to put pressure on the foot by making contact with the ground. You can place your toes gently on a wall while your heel rests on the floor for better stretching, so as to relieve the muscles of pain.
Once the initial cramping has subsided, massage the affected area of the foot with your thumb to relax the muscles. You can also use a heating pad to relax the cramped muscle and ease the pain.