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October 19, 2013, last updated October 7, 2015

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our
Editorial Board.]





Foot cramps give you a rude awakening – in the middle of
the night your foot suddenly spasms and twists, fixing in an
uncomfortable position. Many people also experience painful
foot cramps when running, swimming, taking a Pilates or
yoga class, and even simply walking through the house. Foot
cramps can last for a few minutes or days at a time.

A muscle cramp is the involuntary and forcible contraction of
a muscle which then does not relax, according to the
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. You can suffer
cramps and tightening in any muscle but cramps in your feet
are particularly common.

It’s no surprise that your feet cramp often, given the stress
you put them under every day. Foot cramps may be common
but you don’t have to suffer rigid and twisted toes and feet
in silence – natural remedies, exercise and massage
techniques all help ease painful foot cramps.

Foot Cramp Symptoms

You’ll certainly know when you are experiencing a foot
cramp. You’ll feel the muscle contract swiftly and painfully.
Some people see their toes and feet twisting into strange
positions and staying like that for several minutes. The
muscles in your feet may feel hard and tense, although
walking and putting pressure on the foot may ease pain and
release the cramp.

Who Gets Foot Cramps?

Pretty much anyone who has a foot will eventually suffer a
foot cramp. However, the American Academy of Orthopedic
Surgeons says some people are predisposed to experiencing
greater numbers of foot cramps than others, for example
endurance runners, pregnant women, seniors, and people
who have overexerted their lower body during exercise or
work. You are also more likely to suffer from foot cramps if
you are
overweight or obese. (And just for reminders, being
obese means having a BMI over 30. Here is a chart of the
ideal weight for your height.)

Causes of Foot Cramps

In most cases your feet cramp when they are under stress
or pressure – for example, when you manipulate the foot
during a stretching or yoga class. If your feet are
overworked and you also suffer from dehydration or a lack
of certain nutrients and minerals, foot cramps strike harder.

Foot cramps may be a sign of
poor circulation. Diabetes,
kidney disease, certain brain disorders like Parkinson’s
disease, peripheral nerve disease, thyroid disorders, and
pinched nerve are also possible causes of foot cramps.

But in many cases you will have no idea why your foot is
cramping. If you wake in the night with a painfully tight and
twisted foot, try stretching and massage.

To prevent foot cramps, take a look at the following natural
remedies for preventing and treating foot cramps and
spasms, and straighten out your feet for good.

Natural Remedies for Foot Cramps

























1. Stretching Relieves Foot Cramps

If your foot cramps strike in the night the simplest thing you
can do is stretch out the muscles.

Stretch out your leg and pull your toes towards you keeping
the knee straight if you feel the cramp in the toes, or pull the
foot in the opposite direction to where you feel the cramp.

You can also push your foot flat to the floor and put
pressure on it to ease the cramp. If this doesn’t help, get out
of bed and walk slowly around the room.  Athletes and
runners can also avoid and treat foot cramps with a standing
calf stretch, wall pushups, and sitting leg stretches.

2.
Heat and Ice and Compression Help Treat Foot Cramps

Applying gentle heat from a heating pad relaxes the muscles
in the foot when you first feel the cramp. Continue with a
heating pad until the pain subsides, then use an ice pack on
the foot once the pain has improved.

Compressing the muscle has also been shown to help treat
foot cramps. Using an inner sole and medical compression
stockings helps ease symptoms of foot cramps and
swollen
legs in patients with chronic venous disease according to a
2013 study from the Varicose Veins Surgical Center, Paris,
France.

3.
Get Enough Fluids to Prevent and Treat Foot Cramps

It is common to experience foot cramps and other muscle
cramps when you are exercising and not getting enough
fluid. In many cases drinking plenty of water throughout a
workout, yoga class or run will prevent foot cramps from
occurring.

If you find you are still suffering cramps, change the style of
your workout so you are not overexerting yourself to the
extent of suffering muscle cramps. Make sure you are not
losing vital minerals and salts through overexertion.

4.
Potassium and Foot Cramps

Increase your potassium intake when you are exercising
because a potassium deficiency has been linked to muscle
cramps. The US Food and Drug Administration says that the
recommended intake of potassium for teens and adults is
4,700 mg/day.
 Most Americans do not get enough
potassium from their diets, according to the CDC.


Potassium is found in orange juice, bananas, avocados,
tomatoes, peaches, salmon, cod, beans, green leafy
vegetables, and corn.
 One of the best sources of potassium
is spinach. A cup of cooked (not raw) spinach will give you a
little over 800 mg of potassium.

B
ananas are a healthy runner’s snack --- they quickly replace
lost potassium --- and a smoothie with orange juice after a
workout helps replace lost potassium and lessens the chance
of suffering foot cramps.

5.
Vitamin D and Vitamin E Help Prevent Foot Cramps

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with foot and leg cramps
so make sure you are getting enough.

A 2012 study from Indiana University School of Medicine,
Indianapolis showed leg cramps and foot cramps were
prevalent in cirrhosis sufferers that also had low vitamin D
levels.

Vitamin E may also help you when suffering from painful
foot and leg cramps, according to a 1969 study by S Jr Ayres
and R Mihan – according to the study nearly all of the
patients suffering leg cramps found relief when taking
vitamin E in the form of alpha-tocopheryl acetate, at 100 I.U.
three times a day before meals.

6.
Massage and Reflexology for Foot Cramps

Massaging the foot can help calm the cramping and ease the
foot back into a normal position. You can also achieve foot
cramp benefits with a course of reflexology – specialist foot
massage.

A 2013 study by Hacı Bozan Bozanoglu Anadolu Medical
School, Şanlıurfa, Turkey discovered pain and cramping in
the foot was lessened when haemodialysis patients
underwent a course of 30-minute reflexology sessions after
treatment.

7.  
Take Magnesium to Prevent Pregnancy Foot Cramps

Pregnant women often suffer more than their fair share of
leg and foot cramps due to hormonal changes and added
weight and stress on the feet. A 1995 study from the Faculty
of Health Sciences, Linköping University Hospital, Sweden
found three weeks of magnesium supplementation
significantly reduced the symptoms of cramping in 73
pregnant women. (Read more about the i
mportance of
getting enough magnesium.)



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