A cramp can set in on a number of different muscle groups in the body, but a lot of people develop them in their feet. Foot cramps can range from mildly annoying to downright debilitating. But why do they set in, and what can be done to prevent and treat them? That’s the focus of today’s blog.
Causes of Foot Cramps
To understand why a foot cramp develops, we first must understand what a cramp is. A muscle cramp is defined as an involuntary and forcible contraction of a muscle. A spasm occurs when the muscle contracts and relaxes, but a cramp occurs when the muscle involuntarily contracts and remains in a contracted state. Some of the most common places to develop a cramp are in the foot and in the calf.
So what causes a muscle to contract and remain in a flexed state? Muscle cramps can be triggered:
- Going from a sedentary to active state
- Overuse of a muscle or group of muscles
- Loss of certain electrolytes in the body
- Muscle trauma
- Staying in one position for too long
- Poor stretching prior to activity
Additionally, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says some groups of people are at a higher risk for developing foot cramps. The AAOS says that individuals over the age of 65, those who are ill, overweight, overexercise and who take certain medications are at the greatest risk for developing a foot cramp.
Preventing and Treating Foot Cramps
When it comes to preventing and treating foot cramps, it really comes down to knowing what causes foot cramps, and taking counteractive measures. Here are some preventative steps to take to keep foot cramps at bay:
- Slowly increase activity levels to avoid over-exertion.
- Staying hydrated to avoid dehydration.
- Eat a healthy diet to ensure your body is full of vitamins, nutrients and electrolytes.
- Stretch your muscles before activity or before bedtime if they set in at night.
- When a cramp sets in, try to relax the muscle with some stretching techniques or light activity.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
These conservative techniques can help prevent cramps from setting in and alleviate them when they set in, but there’s a chance these techniques may not fully treat the problem. If you are regularly bothered by foot cramps and they don’t seem to respond to conservative care, consider heading in to see a foot specialist. There is a chance that an underlying condition like a nerve issue or muscle damage is contributing to the cramps, and you’ll want to have a specialist get to the root of the problem so treatment can begin. If you’re dealing with foot cramps or just want to ask Dr. Silverman a question, contact him by filling out the box below!
Lance Silverman, MD
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