You might be sitting at your desk, walking down the street, or most likely sound asleep when a foot cramp strikes.
What is foot or Leg cramps?
A muscle cramp is a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more of your muscles. It can cause severe pain, make it temporarily impossible to use the affected muscle.
What are the causes of foot or leg cramps?
- Lack of hydration: you want to make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.
- Problems with nutrition: a balance of electrolytes (calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium) is essential for the contraction and relaxation of a muscle. to add a balance of electrolytes to your diet you should variety your foods with plenty of color fruits and vegetables, this includes leafy greens and fruits specially bananas.
- Side effect of medication: some medication such as statins and furosemide (Lasix®) can also cause muscle cramps.
- Not stretching enough: take time to stretch each day, including after a brief warm up or after a shower can help.
- Overexertion: if you exercise harder than usual or experience muscle fatigue, this can cause cramps.
- Poor circulation: if you have cramping that increases when you walk, it could be a problem with your circulation.
- The wrong shoes: a less known cause for muscle cramping: your shoes specially if you changed from flats to heels.
How to stop foot and leg cramps?
There are some simple ways to respond to leg and foot cramps:
- If it happens while you are lying down or in bed, try to simply stand up and put some weight on the affected leg or foot. This can sometimes be enough to stop that tender stiffness.
- Use warmth/heating pads to increase blood circulation to the muscle and to relax it. Soaking in a warm tub of Epsom salt can also help ease the tension.
- For more stubborn pain, you can try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen.
Easy stretches to keep calves and feet happy
Here are some simple stretches that can help stop pain and prevent it.
A. Basic calf stretch:
This calf stretch is commonly used by runners. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand with your palms placed against a wall, with arms stretched out
- Step back with leg of affected calf.
- Lean forward on the other leg and push against the wall.
You should feel a stretch in your calf muscle and the back of the leg.
B. Towel stretch:
Do these stretch while you sit:
- Keep legs outstretched in front of you.
- Point the toes of your affected foot at the ceiling so that the leg is engaged.
- Take a towel or neck tie and wrap it around your foot, holding it with both hands.
- Lift the leg slightly until you feel a good stretch.
How to prevent cramps before they start?
It seems like you're getting more foot cramps than you used to (they tend to happen more frequently with age, unfortunately), you may need to make some changes:
- Drink plenty of water: drink up to one-half of your body weight in ounces of purified water throughout the day. Staying hydrated is key to keeping your muscles working optimally.
- Eat a balance diet: that includes natural sources of calcium, potassium and magnesium (addition to bananas, load up on dark leafy green veggies, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, and dark chocolate).
- Rub your feet regularly: Start a self-care ritual that involves massaging your feet and calves in the morning and at night. It's also a good idea to stretch your feet and legs to keep the muscles strong and supple.
- Wear comfortable kicks. It's no surprise that too-tight shoes or too-high heels can cause foot cramps, mostly because ill-fitting shoes cause muscle stiffness, which can lead to cramping.
If leg or foot cramps are occasional occurrences, you can generally manage them yourself. However, if they happen frequently, are severe, or if you are concerned any of your medications are the culprit, talk to your doctor. They could signal a medical problem that requires treatment.