Your feet are the foundation of your entire body. They take a lot of wear and tear, so it’s no wonder that foot cramps are a very common problem. When a muscle cramps, it is the effect of a painful, involuntary spasm which can last for a few minutes or for an extended period of time.
In this article, we will discuss foot cramps and provide some advice that should help you avoid them.
You will learn:
- How do you get rid of a cramp in your toe?
- What causes your toes to curl up and cramp?
- Why do I get cramps in my feet when I sleep?
Read on to learn more.
What does a foot cramp feel like?
When your foot cramps up, you will feel the muscle contract very suddenly and violently. In extreme cases, you may even be able to see your muscles contract. Foot cramp pain may be light or severe, and it can last for several minutes.
When you touch the cramped muscle, it may feel quite tense and hard. Although you may feel as if you should rest the cramped muscle, it is really better to gently stretch and move your foot. In fact walking may actually help resolve your pain.
What causes foot cramps?
There are number of reasons why your feet may cramp. Poor nutrition, especially vitamin D deficiency can cause muscle cramps. Additionally excessive stress and/or fatigue and poor circulation may cause cramping. The reasons for foot cramps differ from group to group. In older people, decreased circulation often causes cramping. In very active athletes, excessive wear and tear and fatigue will cause cramping.
Inactivity can also cause your feet to cramp. Sometimes all you need to do is move your feet around and exercise more to prevent muscle cramps in the feet. When foot cramps are caused by reduced circulation, it is very important to increase activity so that the muscles of the feet can receive enough oxygen.
Other common causes of foot cramps include:
- Malfunctioning thyroid gland
- Not drinking enough water
- Imbalanced hormones
- Poorly fitted shoes
- Being overweight
- Having diabetes
- Trauma or injury
- Pinched nerve
Very often, cramp in toes is caused by overworking your feet. If your feet are tired, stressed or fatigued, cramping may result. This situation is worsened by dehydration. This is why it’s such a good idea to always carry a thermos or a bottle of pure filtered water with you.
Who is likely to get cramp in toes?
Generally speaking, older people tend to suffer from foot cramps more than younger people. Athletes who use their feet a great deal may also suffer from foot cramps more than the general population.
People with diabetes tend to experience foot cramps because one of the side effects is reduced circulation in the feet. For this reason, if you are diabetic, you should pay close attention to your diet and follow your doctor’s orders. Additionally, you should increase your activity in your extremities with stretching, ankle flexing and rotation exercises and light walking.
Maintaining healthy lifestyle habits can help you avoid foot cramps
As with all medical problems, when you eat a healthy whole foods diet that consists of high quality protein sources, natural fiber, fresh fruits and veggies and lots of pure filtered water you can expect your symptoms to lessen or even resolve entirely.
You may be surprised to learn that dehydration is a major culprit in muscle cramping along with a wide variety of other ailments. Your muscles need water in order to function correctly.
Your blood is liquid, so it is very important that you supply your body with plenty of water to keep your blood flowing properly. Good circulation is necessary to provide oxygen to all of your muscles and tissues.
It is also important, if you want to avoid having foot cramps, that you avoid habits that will detract from your general overall health. Examples include excessive consumption of alcohol and any use of tobacco products or illicit drugs.
You should also be advised that there are prescription medications that can cause foot cramping. These include:
- Asthma medications: Ventolin, Proventil, and Albuterol
- The Alzheimer’s medication: Donepezil Hydrochloride
- The Myasthenia gravis medication: Neostigmine
- The Parkinson’s disease medication: Tolcapone
- The Osteoporosis medication: Raloxifene
- Cholesterol medication: Lovastatin
- The Diuretic: Furosemide
If you are taking any of these medications and you suffer from foot cramps, you should be sure to consult your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe an alternative that will not cause this problem.
Also understand that these are not the only medications that can cause foot cramping. When you talk with your doctor, be sure to discuss all of your medications. Don’t expect him or her to remember everything that you are taking.
Very often doctors are not fully aware of the extent of their patients medications. This can result in dangerous overmedication.
Should you worry about foot cramps?
Foot cramps can come and go suddenly, from time-to-time. When this is the case, you needn’t be too concerned, as the problem is only temporary. If your foot cramps occur on a daily basis and/or last for an extended period of time, you should see your general practitioner who may refer you to a podiatrist.
It is important that you understand the source of your foot cramps. A good podiatrist can help you do this. Once you understand why you are having foot cramps, treating them will be much easier.
What to do if you are suffering from the foot cramp
If you are having frequent or extended foot cramps, don’t try to treat them yourself. See your doctor right away. He or she may change your medications or prescribe specific medications to help you deal with the problem. Your doctor may also recommend home remedies such as:
- Foot stretching
- Foot massage
Your doctor might review your diet and exercise habits with you and recommend dietary supplementation. Very often, foot cramps are caused by a deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, magnesium and/or potassium.
Get quick relief with RICE
Many people suffer from cramps in the arches and toes. This is especially true of the great toe. If you are suffering a foot cramp right now, you may want to try standard treatment for muscle and tendon injuries. This consists of:
You’ll notice that the first letters of these words form the acronym, RICE. This standard treatment helps to alleviate pain from muscle and tendon injuries, including foot cramps. If you are experiencing cramps in your feet, take a little break for 20 minutes or so. Elevate your feet and apply ice. Use an elastic bandage to provide compression and support.
Once the pain is resolved, you may wish to try some massage and gentle stretches. Gently massage your foot and then pull up on your toes to relieve cramping in the toes. Rotate and flex your ankles to gently stretch the muscles and tendons in the soles of the feet.
Roll your feet from heel to toe on the floor. You may want to roll a tennis ball or a frozen water bottle underfoot for more relief from pain and cramping.
It is important to understand that even though these treatments can be very effective in dealing with pain, if your foot cramps are persistent you must see your general practitioner or podiatrist to resolve the problem completely.
Steps you can take to avoid foot cramps
- Stay well hydrated at all times, by keeping a bottle of water within reach at all times – even when you are in bed at night
- Stretch and massage your feet before you step out of bed in the morning and before you go to sleep at night
- Always warm up your feet gently before exercising by doing foot and ankle rotations and flexing your feet
- After exercising, remember to stretch your feet to cool them down
- Wear high-quality, well fitted footwear and add orthotics as needed for proper support
- Communicate clearly with your doctors regarding your symptoms and any medications you may be taking
- Include high potassium and high calcium foods in your everyday diet. Examples include:
- Green leafy veggies
- Practice good lifestyle habits that include a healthy, wholesome diet, plenty of water, good stress management and ample rest every day. Following this advice will help resolve your foot cramp problem while improving your overall health
Disclaimer: PediReviews.co.uk does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.