Muscle Cramps in Your Feet and Toes

Why do we experience these cramps?

Our feet & toes experience muscle cramps more than any other muscle in the body. They take a beating day in and day out with the majority of our body weight being transferred to our feet as we move around.  These cramps are an involuntary spasm that can be short and harsh, but can also stay cramped and cause the muscle to become sore even after the cramp has finished.

Athletes and elderly people are more prone to these types of cramps due to muscular weakness, overuse, loss of muscle as well as nutritional deficiency such as electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.

What are some more specific causes of feet and toe cramps?

People that have flat or low arches with little flexibility in their feet and toes are more prone to foot cramps.  With increased exercise such as running, more pressure is put on the arch and foot causing it to be overworked and as a result, cramping.  An increase of intensity of workouts as well as overuse injuries may also lead to a foot cramp.

Additionally, people with a sedentary lifestyle that have muscle weakness may also experience more frequent cramps.

Lack of nutrients (electrolytes), specifically vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium are necessary for NORMAL muscle and nerve function and may induce spasms.  These imbalances can be easily treated by restoring the levels with diet and/or dietary supplements.  Dehydration could be a major factor in this as well.

Are there ways to prevent these cramps?

To help promote blood flow always do proper warm-ups before exercise and cool-downs after.  Make sure to stretch all muscles before and after workouts and always use good footwear to protect the muscles.

What can I do to stop the cramps once they have started?

Start by stretching the affected area or muscle that is in spasm.  If your foot is cramping inward, start by slowly stretching your foot in the opposite direction.  Ice the cramped area when it’s still in the acute or beginning stages, but if the cramping and pain continues warm water therapy (jacuzzi) can help release the cramp as well as gently massaging the area.

If the cramping and pain persists anti-infamatories can help reduce the pain along with rest and continued ice treatment.  If the problem persists, consult your physician for advice and possibly more aggressive treatment.