Personal Health

Foot Cramps: The Key to Prevention Is Knowing the Source

Have you ever been walking outside and felt a sudden, intense pain in your foot? Or have you ever been fast asleep and had to jump out of bed and stand up to get rid of a painful foot spasm?

Foot cramps often hit at the most surprising times, and the pain can be tough to deal with. Luckily, you can take steps to prevent these cramps by better understanding what causes them, whether that's what you're wearing on your feet every day or an underlying medical condition.

Let's look at the common causes of foot cramps and how you can keep the discomfort at bay.

Your Diet

The food you're eating -- or the water you're not drinking -- could be at the heart of your foot cramp issues. Dehydration, an imbalance of electrolytes, or insufficient levels of potassium, magnesium, or Vitamin D can contribute to cramping. Make sure you drink plenty of water, and if you notice recurrent cramps, try eating more bananas and leafy greens. Consult with your doctor before adding supplements to make sure you don't take too much of a good thing.

High Heels

High heels can be the culprit of foot cramping, especially toe cramps. Heels that squeeze your toes or shoes that are too tight in front can lead to muscle discomfort. If you must wear high heels, you may be able to reduce cramping by standing on softer carpet, using insoles, stretching your feet when you get home, or soaking your feet in warm water with Epsom salts.

Sandals and Flip-Flops

Perhaps it's intuitive that high heels can cause foot cramping, but sandals and flip-flops are potential culprits, too. If you have high arches or flat feet, wearing sandals for long hours can tire out the muscles of your feet. Arch supports, anti-inflammatory gels, and icing your feet can help prevent the discomfort and ward off foot cramps.

Muscle Fatigue

Sometimes foot cramping and spasms are simply the result of fatigued muscles. If you're exercising a lot, make sure you're wearing the right athletic shoes for your workout regimen. If you're a runner, avoid increasing your mileage, intensity, or speed too quickly, and make sure you're stretching properly. It can also help to cut down on stimulants such as caffeine and to avoid exercising right after you eat.

Medication

If you're suffering frequent foot cramps, review the side effects of any medications you're taking. Some prescription drugs, including statins and diuretics, can cause muscle cramping. If you're experiencing this kind of side effect, check with your doctor to see what steps you can take to mitigate the issue or if there's another medicine you can use instead.

Various Medical Conditions

This is where things get tricky. If you're having chronic issues with cramping, it's best to consult a doctor, as medical conditions such as nerve damage, thyroid issues, or poor circulation can cause a similar sort of pain. Plantar fasciitis, for example, can cause pain in your heel that's typically worse in the morning. There are also more serious conditions that can lead to cramping, including kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, or Parkinson's.

If you're dealing with consistent cramping, visit a doctor to make sure you don't have an underlying condition. But if your foot cramps are sporadic and seem associated with, for example, your footwear or exercise regimen, you can assess these factors and see if changing things up helps alleviate the pain.

Posted in Personal Health

Author and publicist, featured by Business Week, Livestrong, The Nest, and many other publications. Her interests include Science, technology, business, pets, women's lifestyle and Christian living.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.