A Pain in the Foot: Foot Cramps

How flip flops mess with your feet

Many of us have suffered from foot cramps at some point in our lives. And since our feet have to support our body weight, foot cramps are more common as compared to other muscle spasms. Foot cramps is more common amongst the elderly and sports persons. Other triggers include nutritional deficiency, loss of muscle-tone and muscular weakness.

Foot cramps is an involuntary jerky spasm which can affect a group of muscle or a muscle which can last for a few seconds to a few minutes. The pain you feel is caused by the contraction of the muscle without effectively shortening. This condition can leave your muscles very sore even after the pain is gone.

Which parts of the feet is affected?

The inner-arch of your foot & your toes especially the big one is way more prone to spasm. Other parts which are affected include the calf muscle muscles & the thigh. And in most cases you will notice that this condition causes palpable or visible hardening of all the involved muscles.

Causes of foot cramps 

1. Hyper-flexible joints or flat feet
2. An inactive lifestyle which results in muscle weakness & obesity
3. Lack of exercise (muscle stretching workouts)
4. A rapid increase in workout intensity which raises the pressure on your foot
5. Reduction in calcium blood content caused by an increase in breathing while doing some cardio workouts
6. An injury (caused by some repetitive movements)
7. Worn-out shoes

Disorders causing foot cramps

  1. Nutrient deficiency
    Spasm occurs when your body lacks various essential minerals & vitamins like vitamin D. And this can be corrected by consumption of the right quantity of vitamins. An electrolyte imbalance caused by low potassium & calcium levels and low magnesium levels can trigger cramps. Potassium imbalance can affect calcium and magnesium metabolism which is crucial in muscle contraction.
  2. Disorders
    Foot issues like plantar fasciitis can cause spasm. Diabetics experience cramps because of reduced oxygen supply to their feet. Illnesses like huntington’s & parkinson’s diseases, tetanus, thyroid issues, diseases of your nervous system and multiple sclerosis can also trigger spasm. When impulses from the brain don’t reach their target, they can cause various pinched nerve illnesses like pain, tingling and cramp.
  3. Reduced blood circulation
    Reduced blood circulation in your feet can cause cramping and pain. Inadequate oxygen supply caused by reduced blood supply in the feet results in spasm commonly noted in smokers and alcoholics.
  4. Inadequate hydration
    Many are unaware that dehydration can cause spasms. It is important to drink enough water everyday. And if you drink alcohol or smoke, make sure to reduce your consumption. This also applies to coffee drinkers. As coffee can dehydrate our bodies.

Foot cramps remedies

To help relieve the excessive stretch of the muscle make sure you move the region which is cramped to the opposite direction of the spasm. Tune your toes upwards to relieve the spasm in your toes. If the cramp is in your calf, a simple dorsiflexion (elevating your forefoot while maintaining your heel stable) should help relieve the pain within a few seconds. Applying ice-packs can also help during the acute stage. But if it persists for over 24 hours, a warm-water treatment might help with the soreness. Massaging can also help.

Preventing foot cramps

1. Proper cool downs and warm-ups before working out
2. Do stretching workouts to raise your muscle strength
3. Uses proper workout equipment or sports gear
4. Adequate hydration
5. Eat food with lots of potassium and calcium like bananas, milk, yogurt, cheese, fish, fresh veggies and dark chocolate
6. Wear comfortable, well-fitted shoes

If you are standing throughout the day then you already know the cause of the spasm, it’s fatigue. Make sure to cushion your shoes, if your job involves standing or walking for long  hours. This will help to ease the strain & stress on your feet.

Tips to stop foot cramp fast

  • Pull the toes upward (if toes are cramping).
  • If you have a cramp in just one foot, put all of your body weight on that foot for a few seconds. Keep the opposite foot raised, not touching the ground.
  • If you are wearing closed-toed shoes or socks, remove them and let your feet stretch for a few minutes.
  • Flex your toes, raise the foot that has the cramp, and support it using only your heel. Gently wiggle your toes and repeat this until the pain subsides.
  • Move your toes back and forth, and if it continues to ache, use your fingers to pull them gently.
  • To prevent future cramping and pain, go for a walk as soon as you recover from the cramp.
  • If these spasms continue for several minutes, you can apply heat to the area using a warm, damp cloth.
  • Use acupressure to alleviate the cramp by using your thumb and index finger to press on your upper lip for about 30 seconds.
  • Another acupressure point that can provide relief in seconds is the spot located between your big toe and the toe next to it. Apply pressure for 30 to 40 seconds.


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