If you’ve ever had a foot or calf cramp, then you’re probably familiar with the sudden and severe pain it can bring. Worse yet, cramps can strike at almost any time of the day or night – even when you’re fast asleep. If you or someone you care about regularly suffers from foot cramps, read on to find out how you can treat them and prevent them from reappearing!
What Are Foot Cramps?
Also known as charley horses, foot cramps are a common ailment that happens when one or more muscles involuntarily contract and can’t relax. While they’re usually harmless, they can be quite painful. Anyone can experience foot or calf cramps at any age, but they seem to be more common among older patients.
What Causes Foot Cramps?
While the specific cause of cramps is unknown, there are many factors that may contribute to foot or calf cramping. Among them include the following:
- Medication side effects
- Overuse of the muscle(s)
- Poor circulation
- Poor nutrition
- Wearing shoes that aren’t supportive
How Can You Prevent Foot Cramps?
Foot cramps are uncomfortable, to say the least, but they’re usually pretty simple to prevent. Here are a few key ways you can help prevent foot cramps:
- Stay hydrated: Make water your beverage of choice every day. Your muscles, just like the rest of your body, need plenty of water to function properly. Additionally, cut back on caffeine, alcohol, and sugary beverages, which can contribute to dehydration.
- Stretch often: Daily stretching can help you remain limber and strong. Always take 5-10 minutes to warm up and cool down before and after your workouts. Calmer workouts like yoga or tai chi can also help!
- Wear properly fitting shoes: Yes, your shoe choice can also matter! When you wear unsupportive shoes, you can wind up straining your feet and overworking your tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Choose practical footwear with ample arch support and plenty of room in the toe box.
- Eat a balanced diet:Did you know that the culprit of many foot cramps is the lack of certain nutrients in your body? To avoid cramps, you’ll want to ensure you get plenty of potassium and calcium every day. Excellent sources of calcium include broccoli, dairy products, kale, and of course, milk. Get plenty of potassium by eating avocados, leafy greens, bananas, and yogurt!
- Ask your doctor about potential medication side effects: If you’re starting a new medication, always ask your health care provider about potential side effects, especially if you’re prone to painful cramps.
What Should You Do if a Cramp Occurs?
Sometimes, foot or calf cramps can occur despite your best efforts. If this happens, do the following:
- Stand and put weight on the cramping foot if possible, or try walking around the room. This might be all you need to do to stop the cramp.
- If you’re unable to stand, try flexing your foot and pulling your toes toward you to stretch the muscles in your feet. Gently massage the area to help your muscles relax.
- Use a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm washcloth on the affected area to promote relaxation and blood circulation. Soaking in warm water with Epsom salts can also help.
- If you’re still experiencing lingering pain or discomfort, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.
Should I Visit My Podiatrist for Foot Cramps?
Foot cramps normally are harmless and don’t warrant a visit to your foot doctor. However, you should make an appointment if you experience muscle weakness, redness or swelling, cramps that aren’t improved through self-care, or severe pain that won’t go away. These symptoms may point to a deeper underlying condition that a podiatrist can treat.
Trust the Experts at The Foot & Ankle Center If you’re concerned about cramping in your toes, feet, or calves, schedule an appointment with the knowledgeable doctors at The Foot & Ankle Center! We will thoroughly examine your feet, give you an accurate diagnosis, and provide you with a treatment plan to alleviate the pain you’re experiencing. Call us today at (314) 487-9300 to schedule your appointment or request a time with us online!