A foot cramp can strike at any time - you might be sitting at your desk, in the middle of a workout, or most likely, sound asleep. Wherever or whenever the pain may strike, our immediate reaction is to make it stop... Now! While there are a number of things that you can do to stop the pain, or better yet, prevent it from ever happening, have you ever stopped to consider what is causing your foot cramp?
Foot Cramps: The Causes
Exercise is often believed to be the culprit. However, while a lot of exercise like running can cause the muscles in the foot to cramp up, foot cramps are more likely to occur due to nutritional deficiencies. The muscles in the foot contract on their own primarily due to an imbalance in the ratio of water to electrolytes: namely potassium, sodium, magnesium and calcium. Another possible cause that can make you susceptible to cramping is insufficient movement in your legs - therefore, not stretching your toes, calves and thigh muscles before and after exercise and before bedtime can cause cramping.
Get Instant Relief
During a foot cramp, pull your toes toward you, using your foot and leg muscles or your hands. This simple stretch enables the muscles that are cramping to relax. Another alternative is to put pressure directly on the cramping muscle - try standing on your foot or giving yourself a foot massage. However, if the cramping persists, place a warm compress on your foot - the pressure and the warmth will help boost circulation to the area, providing a fresh supply of oxygenated blood, restoring nutritional balance.
Once the cramping has subsided, put two inches of salt into 12 ounces of water and drink it (consult with your doctor if you suffer from high blood pressure) - the salt-water will help restore your water-electrolyte levels. Eating half a banana will also help. They are a good source of magnesium and potassium - both of which relieve muscle cramps. Take another dose of salt-water and banana if the cramping persists.
Prevent Foot Cramps from Occurring
Unfortunately, foot cramps tend to occur more frequently as we age. Consequently, some changes need to be made:
1. Drink plenty of water: Throughout the day ensure that you are getting enough water. Down one-half of your body weight in ounces of purified water. Therefore, if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need to drink about 75 ounces of water, equivalent to 9 cups. Staying hydrated will keep your muscles working optimally. If you've gotten a little bored from drinking all that water, add a little flavor with these sassy water recipes.
2. Up your magnesium intake: Bananas are a great source of magnesium. Try increasing your dark leafy green intake too, alongside some nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados and dark chocolate.
3. Give yourself a regular foot massage: Every morning and evening, get into the habit of massaging your feet and legs, keeping the muscles strong and supple.
4. Wear comfortable shoes: This last piece of advice should come as no surprise. Shoes that are too tight or heels that are too high can cause foot cramps, primarily because ill-fitting shoes cause muscle stiffness which can lead to cramping.