What Causes Foot Cramps?
Foot cramps are painful and frustrating, and they can strike any time. Foot cramping is caused by a few simple factors that can easily be adjusted to get foot cramp relief.
Dehydration is a common cause of cramps in the legs, arms and feet. If you’ve been out in the sun, exercising more than usual or haven’t been drinking enough water, dehydration could be the source of your foot cramps.
Other foot cramp causes include muscle tension, bad shoes, electrolyte imbalance, poor circulation, low potassium, magnesium or calcium, or chemical sensitivities, such as from taking medication.
What To Do When You Get a Foot Cramp
1. Stretch the affected foot. Pull your toes upward and spread them, lengthening the muscles on the bottom of the foot. Walking – gently – on the cramping foot can also help to stretch the arch.
2. Soak your foot cramp in warm water. Add Epsom salts for extra relief. The magnesium in the Epsom salts is absorbed transdermally and causes the muscles to relax. The water should be warm enough to soothe the foot cramp but not so hot that it scalds your skin.
3. Roll your foot on a tennis ball or golf ball to alleviate tight muscles and fascia on the bottom of your foot that can cause cramping. This is best done on a regular basis to prevent future foot cramps.
4. Stretch your hips. Tight muscles in the upper thigh and hip area, particularly the adductors (muscles along the inside of the leg) can draw your foot upward, causing cramps. Increasing hip flexibility can get rid of foot cramps on a more permanent basis.
5. Never wear shoes without a strap on the back. Flip flops and other backless shoes force you to clench your feet to hold the shoe on, causing tight, rigid foot and calf muscles. These tight muscles go into spasm more easily, causing foot cramps. Shoes that have a strap along the back, however, allow your foot to move naturally and freely.
6. Drink more water – If you are prone to foot cramps, make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. If you drink coffee or tea, include extra water to make up for the diuretic effect of the caffeine. To find out how many ounces of water you should be drinking each day, take your body weight in pounds and divide it in half. So, a 150 lb woman would drink 75 ounces of water a day.
7. Supplement with electrolytes – Electrolytes like calcium, potassium and magnesium help keep muscle tissue relaxed. A deficiency or imbalance in any one of these nutrients can stimulate foot cramps. Emergen-C powder is available at any health food store and is easily added to water to help you maintain healthy electrolyte balance. For athletes, a super-charged electrolyte supplement that I recommend is E-lyte.