Preventing Foot Cramps
Muscle cramps are generally harmless but very painful! If you’ve been awakened during the night by severe pain in the calf or foot, or felt calf pain after strenuous exercise, then you have suffered from muscle cramps. Also known as a charley horse, these cramps are abrupt, uncontrolled contractions of your muscles.
Causes of Foot Cramps
Overuse, or extended periods of work or exercise, is a common cause of sudden muscle cramps – especially during summer months. Holding your leg or foot in the same position for too long can cause the contractions, as can dehydration. But often the exact cause is unknown.
Persistent muscle cramps should not be ignored as they may be a sign of another more serious medical condition such as:
Mineral depletion. If your body is not getting enough of certain minerals like potassium, calcium or magnesium, your muscles may cramp up. This shortage can be caused by medications like a high blood pressure prescription with a diuretic that drains off necessary minerals.
Nerve compression. The leg cramps from lumbar stenosis, or compressed spinal nerves, worsen with walking. Bending slightly forward while walking can ease the contraction.
Inadequate blood supply. When arteries become narrowed your lower extremities may receive a reduced blood supply. This can bring on foot and leg cramps with exercise. In this case, resting will relieve the cramp.
What to Do to Relieve Foot and Leg Cramps
At Klein Foot and Ankle Specialists, we recommend the following steps as soon as you feel a muscle cramp:
Rub the muscle and stretch it gently so it relaxes.
Stand up and put weight on the cramped leg keeping the knee bent slightly, or sit on the floor with leg extended and gently pull on your toes.
Loosen up tight muscles with a warm towel or heating pad. Try directing warm water from a bath or shower directly on the muscle.
Prevent Foot Cramps Before They Happen
Staying hydrated is good for your overall health and can reduce the chance of foot and leg cramps. Fluids keep muscle cells hydrated as well as help muscles to contract and relax. Drink plenty of liquids especially water every day. Be sure to replenish fluids before and after exercise.
Stretch gently before bedtime to avoid night cramps.
Talk to your doctor to see if any of your medications may be depleting minerals in your body. Eating a banana every day can replenish potassium levels.
Get Help for Persistent Foot Cramps
If you have muscle contractions that won’t go away, especially if they are accompanied by muscle weakness, redness or swelling, or if you have cramps with no obvious cause, it’s time to get professional help. Call Dr. Barry Klein and Dr. Debra Klein, board certified foot doctors for an appointment today at our Pine Hill office – 856-783-3366 or our Florence office – 609-499-1181. You can also send us an email through the website. Act today to end the pain and discomfort of foot and leg cramps.