Where Can You Get Foot Cramps
Foot cramps can range from a slight tic to an intense spasm that causes a lot of pain. You might also notice that the muscle in your foot goes very hard and tense or that you can see twitching inside your foot.1
It’s likely that you might get cramps in specific areas, they include:
- In the whole foot
- Cramp in arch of the foot
- Cramp on top of the foot
- Cramp inside of the foot
How To Get Rid Of Cramp In Your Foot
Stretch your foot forcefully to relieve the cramp by flexing your foot and pressing down on your big toe. Walking around and jiggling your leg may also help with both foot and leg cramps. Taking a warm bath or shower or using ice may ease any lingering pain. Deep tissue massage may help in the long term.
Additional Ways To Stop Foot Cramping
Aside from the strategies mentioned with each cause of foot cramping above, there are several other things you can do for foot cramps. Massaging your feet, especially in the middle of a cramp, can help. If you are in pain, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever. Cool or hot compresses can also relieve muscle pain.
In a recent study at Brigham Young University, researchers found that pickle juice was effective at stopping exercise-induced cramps once they started.20Scientists arent sure why this worked, but they think it may have something to do with muscle fatigue.
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Improper Footwear Or Hard Surfaces
Wearing poorly fitted shoes or shoes without enough support throughout the day may tax foot muscles as well. Standing or working on concrete floors or other hard surfaces can have a similar effect.
The foot muscles work extra hard to support the weight of your body. Improper footwear may also impair the foots circulation, cutting off blood and oxygen, and producing painful spasms even when youre off your feet.
Strengthen Your Foot Muscles
We tend to stuff feet into shoes and never think about them until theres a problem.
In reality, we should be working on our feet just as much as the rest of us.
Intrinsic muscles is the collective name for all the tiny muscles deep inside the foot.
Intrinsic foot muscle weakness can occur over time for various reasons, including lack of exercise and wearing very padded shoes all the time without ever doing any barefoot activities.
Heres a video demonstrating some specific exercises for your foot muscles.
Yoga and balance exercises are also excellent ways to improve your intrinsic foot strength. In addition, since yoga is done barefoot, it gives you a chance to strengthen in a controlled environment.
You can also try exercising with toe spreaders.
Wearing toe stretchers regularly and performing foot exercises can help relieve muscle tightness, chronic soreness, and improve blood circulation within the foot.
These improvements can help to decrease foot cramping over time.
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Lack Of Vitamins & Minerals
People often ask what deficiency causes foot cramps? The body needs the appropriate balance of vitamins and minerals tofunction properly. Foot cramps are commonly caused by imbalances in:
- Vitamin B6: is vital for healthy function of nerves and muscles
- Vitamin D: helps absorb calcium and magnesium. Getting at least fifteen minutes of sunlight a day helps prevent a lack of vitamin D
- Vitamin E: promotes good circulation and is needed for the production of red blood cells. Lack of vitamin E can therefore reduce oxygen levels to the muscles resulting in foot cramps
- Potassium: low potassium levels are known as hypokalemia and can be caused by excessive vomiting or sweating, kidney problems and medication
- Calcium: helps transmit nerve impulses to the muscle cells allowing the muscles to contract and relax normally. Excessive caffeine intake, lack of vitamin D and high sodium levels can reduce calcium levels
- Magnesium: lack of magnesium locks calcium and sodium ions into the muscle, preventing it from relaxing
What Causes Charlie Horses In Feet
Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. In many cases, however, the cause isnt known. Although most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition, such as: Inadequate blood supply.
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The Causes Of Cramps In The Foot
For those who do suffer with foot cramps, they are going to find that these are really nothing more than muscle cramps in their feet. For those who do have these cramps, these are most often caused by:
- Overuse of the muscle: such as if you had been walking more during the day than what you normally walk.
- Dehydration: not getting the right amount of water each day, and remember some medications may mean you need to drink more water to stay hydrated!
- Muscle strain: this can happen from overuse.
- Holding a Position for too long: This is often seen in those who are standing on their feet constantly or who sit in awkward positions throughout the day.
There are also times in which these cramps in the feet could be caused by an underlying medical issue. These medical issues include:
1- Having an inadequate blood supply. This often occurs when the delivery of blood to the legs is obstructed in some way. In most cases, this pain is going to happen when the person is exercising since blood flow is not getting all the way to the feet. This cramp often leaves once the person stops exercising.
2- Nerve Compression: There are several nerves throughout the body. When these nerves in the spine become compressed it is not uncommon for the person to develop cramps in the legs or feet. Walking often makes this pain worse since you are in a straight position for a long period of time.
How To Get Rid Of Muscle Cramps In Your Legs
The muscles in your legs are made up of bundles of fibers that alternately contract and expand to produce movement. A cramp is a sudden, involuntary contraction of one of these muscles, typically in your calf. Cramps can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. They can be mild, or intense enough to wake you out of a sound sleep. A sudden, painful muscle spasm in the leg is called a charley horse, which legend has it is named after baseball player Charlie “Hoss” Radbourn, who reportedly suffered from frequent cramps back in the 1880s.
Sometimes there is no obvious cause for a cramp. Exercise is a common trigger, especially after you’ve exercised for a long period of time or in the heat. Muscles that are tired or dehydrated become irritated and are more likely to cramp up. A deficiency of electrolytes such as magnesium or potassium in your diet can lead to more frequent cramping, by preventing your muscles from fully relaxing. The risk of a cramp increases during pregnancy, possibly because of circulatory changes and increased stress on the muscles from a growing belly. Age is another factor, with cramps becoming more frequent in middle age and beyond. Older muscles tire more easily, and they become increasingly sensitive to lower fluid volumes in the body. Cramps can also be a side effect of medicines like statins, which are used to treat high cholesterol.
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Common Causes Of Foot Cramps
When the muscles of the feet are unable to relax, a cramp can occur. Most cramps are not serious but some can be so painful that they wake you up in the middle of the night, limit your mobility, or cause the muscles of your feet to freeze. Once you understand the cause of your foot cramps, you can treat them accordingly.
Anyone can get cramps in their feet. Those who run, dance, or exercise frequently can experience foot cramping as well as those who are older or overweight. There are a variety of factors that can cause foot cramping. Some common causes are:
- Muscle fatigue from overuse
- Stress on the feet from sports or exercise
- Poor circulation
- Tight shoes or shoes that do not fit properly
- Dehydration and poor diet
- Foot conditions such as flat foot
- Medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorder, or a hormone imbalance
- Medication such as diuretics
Wear Shoes More Often
“Suddenly, we’re recruiting those muscles to work. This can lead to muscle fatigue and cramping,” he says.
Since most of us can’t ditch shoes entirely to build up the muscles in our feet, it’s best to take the opposite approach: wearing shoes more often. Instead of going barefoot at home, purchase a comfortable pair of sneakers to wear around the house.
Quick tip: Keeping track of how far your shoes have trod can be tricky, so just replace them when they’re looking worn, Makarokiy says. That might include having sagging sides or soles that are worn smooth or thin.
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Lower Your Alcohol Intake
Limit alcoholic beverages, like beer, wine, and mixed drinks. These beverages can dehydrate you.
In the case of alcohol-related nerve damage, seek help if youre having a hard time quitting drinking. Consider reaching out to your doctor, a friend, or a local support program.
Conditions like alcoholic neuropathy can lead to permanent and progressive nerve damage. Early treatment is key in preventing this.
What Is The Difference Between Leg Cramps And Restless Legs Syndrome
Although both nocturnal leg cramps and restless legs syndrome tend to happen to you at night or when youre at rest, restless legs syndrome doesnt cause the severe pain. Restless legs syndrome is uncomfortable, but not agonizing. Its a crawling sensation that makes you want to move your legs. When you do move, the restlessness stops, but there is still discomfort.
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Health Issues And Medications
Medical conditions associated with nighttime foot cramping include:
- Structural issues, like spinal stenosis and peripheral arterial disease
- Metabolic issues, like kidney disease, anemia, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, or type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- Other conditions, like nerve damage, osteoarthritis, and Parkinsons disease
Certain medications may also make you more susceptible to cramping. These include:
- Blood pressure medications
- Vascular disease
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Leg Cramps
- Do you think that my leg cramps are a symptom of an underlying condition?
- Can you show me the best exercises I can do to stretch my muscles?
- Can you show me the best massage techniques I can use to help with my leg cramps?
- Is it safe for me to take medication for my leg cramps? Which medications should I take?
- Do you recommend that I see a physical therapist, sleep specialist, massage therapist, or other specialist?
- How can I help my child when they have a leg cramp?
- Should I keep an eye out for symptoms other than leg cramps that might indicate a more serious condition?
- How often should I come back to visit you about my leg cramps?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Leg cramps can be unpredictable and agonizing. They can affect your sleep, your exercise routine and your general quality of life. Theyre common very normal and, fortunately, temporary, and there are steps you can take to manage them. Do your best to avoid risk factors, avoid medications with leg cramps as a side effect and take recommended preventative measures.
If youre concerned about the severity and duration of your leg cramps, or think that they may be caused by a serious condition, dont hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. Ask questions and voice your concerns. You dont have to just live with leg cramps.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/03/2020.
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Do I Need To Have Any Testing Done To Diagnose My Leg Cramps
Blood, urine and other routine tests are not helpful in diagnosing leg cramps but they may help identify previously undiagnosed medical conditions that have leg cramps as a symptom. For example, your healthcare provider will likely perform typical tests such as taking your blood pressure, and that can reveal cardiac and vascular risks.
How To Relieve A Foot Cramp In The Moment
A cramped muscle can stop you in your tracks, resulting in severe pain.
The first step to relieving a foot cramp is to gently stretch it out.
Try placing your foot flat on the ground and pressing the heel down. If you need more of a stretch, you can do a standing calf stretch, which also helps the arch of the foot.
Gently massaging the area of the cramp and pulling the big toe back can also help to loosen it up. Alternatively, you can use a massage ball to get some pressure into the arch of your foot.
After the cramp subsides, walk it out slowly, focusing on a smooth heel-to-toe gait.
Whew! Youve made it through another Charley horse. But what about next time?
Keep reading to learn how to decrease the frequency of painful foot cramps.
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What Questions Might My Healthcare Provider Ask About My Leg Cramps
To help your healthcare provider diagnose you, they may ask the following questions about your leg cramps:
- When do you experience the leg cramps?
- How often do your leg cramps occur?
- How would you describe your leg cramps?
- How long do the leg cramps last?
- What medications are you currently taking?
- What known medical conditions do you have?
- Are you concerned about medical conditions that may be causing your leg cramps?
- Are you having any symptoms of another medical condition?
What Foods Trigger Leg Cramps
WHAT FOODS CAN CAUSE MUSCLE CRAMPS? Refined carbs like white bread are devoid of nutrients. Excessive red meat consumption is bad due to nitrates. Fast food is full of trans fats. Foods with refined sugar such as packaged muffins are full of artificial ingredients. Salty foods can wreak havoc on the body.
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When To Call Your Doctor
You should contact your doctor if your foot and leg cramps are severe and occur frequently.21Other reasons for calling your doctor about muscle cramping include muscle weakness and atrophy and the inability to sleep because of nighttime cramps. Alcoholics who experience foot and leg cramping should seek medical care.
Although foot cramping can be a briefly painful annoyance, it is usually not serious. Take good care of your body, and you will experience less incidence of foot cramps.
Article updated: March 13, 2018
How Do I Stop Cramp
These steps may help prevent cramps:
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What Causes Foot Cramps
If youve ever had a foot cramp, you know how uncomfortable and even painful it can be. Foot cramps happen when your foot muscles involuntarily contract. Foot and leg cramps are closely related. An estimated one in three adults will be affected by lower limb muscle cramps in their lifetime.1As many as 60 percent of adults have suffered from nighttime foot and leg cramps during sleep.2 The good news is, although they can be inconvenient, these types of muscle cramps are usually harmless.
Researchers believe muscle cramping occurs when neurons in the spinal cord fire excessively.3 These neurons control the contraction of muscles. But what causes the neurons to over-fire in the first place? In other words, what causes foot cramps?
Foot cramping often occurs with no known cause. However, there are some medical reasons for foot cramps. Here are some of the most common causes, as well as the best ways to combat them.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Getting Leg Cramps
Experts cant promise that youll never have a leg cramp again, but there are some steps you can take that might reduce your risk!
- Make sure that you stay hydrated drink six to eight glasses of water each day. Dont drink as much alcohol and caffeine.
- Adjust how you sleep. Use pillows to keep your toes pointed upwards if you sleep on your back. If you lie on your front, try hanging your feet over the end of the bed. Both positions can keep you in a relaxed position.
- Gently stretch your leg muscles before you go to sleep.
- Keep blankets and sheets loose around your feet so that your toes are not distorted.
- Wear shoes that fit you well and support your feet.
- Perform frequent leg exercises.
- Stretch your muscles before and after you exercise.
- Experiment with mild exercise right before bed. Walk on the treadmill or ride a bicycle for a few minutes.
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How Can I Stop Night Cramps
Some simple things you might keep you from getting cramps: Stretch during the day and before bed. Focus on your calf and foot muscles. Drink plenty of water. Move around during the day to exercise your feet and legs. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes. Sleep under loose covers, especially if you sleep on your back.