Foot cramps happen when a muscle in your foot suddenly squeezes and canБt relax. The feeling you get ranges from a slight tic to an intense spasm that causes a lot of pain. Foot cramps are usually harmless. Often, you can take care of the pain yourself at home. Though you might get a foot cramp because of or other activity, it can just as easily happen when youБre sitting still or sleeping. Your muscle may feel very hard. You might also be able to see it
inside your foot. A cramp may last only a few seconds, or it may go on for up to 15 minutes or more. б б б б When your foot muscle seizes up, try these tips to help it relax: If youБre sitting or lying down, stand up and put weight on your cramping foot. Gently stretch the muscle by flexing your foot. Keep it flexed until the pain goes away. (If you have trouble reaching your feet, wrap a towel or necktie around the bottom of your foot with your toes pointed toward the ceiling, and pull the top of your foot toward you. ) Rub your muscle gently as you stretch it. Try putting ice on the area while you it. Put heat on the cramped muscle with a warm towel or heating pad. You can also soak it in warm water. б б б б You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofenб to help any leftover aches go away. б б б How Do I Prevent Them? One key to keeping cramps at bay is to keep your body limber and healthy. Here\’s how: Stretch. Warm up your muscles, especially when you know youБll be using them for a long time.
Stretch both before and after you exercise. If you tend to get leg cramps at night, make sure to stretch before you go to bed. Doing a few minutes of light exercise like stationary bike riding before you can help your muscles relax better while you, too. Hydrate. Plenty of throughout the day can help ward off cramps. Your bodyБs cells are happier when they have lots of fluids. Drink more when youБre more active, or when the weather is hot or dry. Keep the coming. That\’ll help you and your muscles stay hydrated and relaxed. Youre sound asleep, and then, without warning, you wake up with a paralyzing stiffness in your calf or foot. Whether you call it a foot or legPcramp (aka charley horse ), its a common, somewhat mysterious painPthatPhappens when a muscle gets involuntarily stiff and cant relax. They tend to happen more frequently as we age, saysPsports and exercise medicine physicianP. P While they can be uncomfortable, they are rarely harmful. Here s what causes these cramps, as well as tips to help prevent them. RELATED:P Whether day or night, your foot and calf muscles canPspasm or cramp. This can happen to various muscles not just in the legs or feet though these cramps are often most uncomfortable. Lack of hydration. If you are experiencing cramping, it s important to look at your hydration first, Dr. Gladden says. You want to make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day.
Problems with nutrition. P While a balance of electrolytes (calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium) is essential for the contraction and relaxation of a muscle, it s best not to simplyPself-treat with supplements. TakingPexcess supplements if youPdon t need them can be harmful, Dr. Gladden says. Instead, she suggests eating a variety of foods with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. This includes leafy greens and fruits, including bananas, to add a balance of electrolytes to you diet. Side effect of medication. P Some medications such as statins andPfurosemide (Lasix^) can also cause muscle cramps. A tip-off is when cramps start suddenly after you begin taking a new medication. If this happens, see your practitioner. Not stretching enough. Taking time toP each day, includingPafter a brief warm up or after a shower can help. You want your muscles to be as strong and supple as they can be. Adequate stretching after a brief warm-up period is key to this, Dr. Gladden says. Overexertion. If you exercise harder than usual or experience muscle fatigue, this can cause cramps. Pace yourself. Poor circulation. If you have cramping that increases when you walk, it could be a problem with your circulation. Some circulation problems cause pain that feels like cramping. If it gets worse when you walk, or if you have cramps that just don t stop, definitely see your doctor, Dr. Gladden says. The wrong shoes.
APless-known cause for muscle cramping: your shoes. You want to look at your shoes, especially if you changed from flats to heels. This also can cause cramps, Dr. Gladden says. RELATED:P If it happens while you are lying down or in bed, try to simply stand up and put some weight on the affected leg or foot. This can sometimes be enough to stop that tender stiffness. UsePwarmth/heating pads to increase blood circulation to the muscle and to relax it. Soaking in a warm tub of Epsom salt can also help ease the tension. For more stubborn pain, you can try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. Here are somePsimplePstretches that can help stop pain and preventPit. Basic calf stretch This calf stretch is commonly used by runners. Heres how to do it: Stand with your palms placed against a wall, with arms stretched out You should feel a stretch in your calf muscle and the back of the leg. Towel stretch Take a towel or neck tie and wrap it around your foot, holding it with both hands RELATED:P Stretch each day, especially before you exercise Eat a balanced diet that includes natural sources ofPcalcium, potassium and magnesium If leg or foot cramps are occasional occurrences, you can generally manage them yourself. However, if they happen frequently, are severe, or if you are concerned any of your medications are the culprit, talk to your doctor. They could signal a medical problem that requires treatment.