Causes for Foot Cramps and How to Treat Them

December 21, 2017

 

Foot cramps are extremely common and can occur at any time, whether during exercise and activity, or during rest and sleep. Even the slightest movement, like pointing a toe (which shortens the muscle in the arch) can trigger a cramp.

 

Causes

The exact cause of foot cramps (and cramps in general) is unknown, but some researcher believe that inadequate stretching and muscle fatigue leads to abnormalities in the mechanisms that control muscle contraction. Other causes of muscle cramps may include:

  • Overuse of a muscle

  • Dehydration

  • Depletion of salt and minerals

  • Muscle strain or holding a position for a long time

  • Nerve damage - signals from the brain to the muscles don’t get through properly, resulting in cramps

  • Decreased circulation - long periods in the same position (while sleeping, for example), causes reduced oxygen levels in the muscles which can lead to cramping.

  • Muscle tightness - tightness in the calf muscle can cause calf cramps and tightness in foot muscles, which can cause foot and toe cramps.

  • Ill-fitting shoes -  high heels or narrow pointed shoes increase the risk of cramping.

Treatment

Treatment for foot cramps can typically be taken care of using self-care measures:

  • While the foot is cramping, stretch the muscle away from the cramping position

  • Gently massage the muscle

  • Apply warmth from a heating pad

  • Replace fluid and electrolytes, if that is the cause of the cramping

  • Stretch before and after muscles are used for an extended period

  • Stretch before bedtime for night cramps

  • Where comfortable shoes with a wide toe box

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