How to relieve foot cramps?
Last update: 24 February 2020
It is a well known fact that muscle cramps in the feet can be as painful as they are sudden.
You might think that the only solution is to wait until they subside.
However, there are several techniques that can quickly reduce discomfort and reduce the incidence of cramps.
Let’s see what causes muscle spasms in the foot and learn how to relieve them effectively.
What causes the cramps?
Cramping is defined as the involuntary and painful contraction of one or more of our muscles.
Most muscle cramps appear unexpectedly, making it difficult to identify their causes.
However, some people are at greater risk of being affected by these musculoskeletal disorders:
- Pregnant women
- Athletes who regularly participate in activities such as jogging.
Multifactorial in nature, foot cramps can be triggered by medical, metabolic or sporting factors.
Medical causes of muscle contraction include:
- Circulatory disorders of the lower extremities
- A neurological condition
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Hardening of the arteries (peripheral artery disease)
Foot cramps caused by sports activities can occur under these conditions:
- Insufficient hydration
- Improper warm-up
- Insufficient stretching routine
- Excessive sweating
- Unsuitable training techniques
A sedentary lifestyle and the use of certain medications can also contribute to the development of foot cramps.
What to do in the event of a cramp?
Appearing very rapidly, a cramp usually occurs while at rest or during physical activity.
It is possible to relieve cramps with a few simple steps:
- Stretch the muscle that causes the discomfort: if it is cramps in the arch of the foot, sit down. Then grasp your toes by pulling them upwards for about 30 seconds.
- Massage the painful area: for cramps in the feet, it is important to massage the sole of the foot vigorously with your thumbs. As well, the area around the contracted muscle must also be massaged. For a more effective massage, use a tennis ball on the surface of the foot.
- Place weight on the sore foot: just like stretching in a sitting position, using body weight is a good way to engage muscles and tendons that are affected by cramps.
- Stimulate your muscles by walking: when the pain seems to subside, it is important to stimulate the foot so that it doesn’t return. If you feel your foot tightening up again, don’t hesitate to continue walking.
- Apply a warm compress: heat is a useful method of relieving muscle tension that causes cramps in the feet.
- Give your feet a rest: while no one is immune to cramps, overworked muscles are an aggravating factor. That’ s why it’s important to ensure that you get adequate rest.
If foot cramps reappear frequently or prevent you from moving around painlessly, there may be something wrong.
A clinical consultation with a podiatrist can help shed light on the source of your cramps and provide you with treatment that is tailored to your specific condition.
How to avoid cramps in the future?
Foot cramps can be very uncomfortable, so it is only natural to want to prevent them by taking certain steps:
- Hydrate well under all circumstances
- Exercise regularly
- Stretch and warm up properly before and after physical activity.
- Wear shoes adapted to the morphology of the feet
- Adopt a healthy and balanced diet
When to consult a podiatrist?
If your muscle cramps are so intolerable that they interfere with your daily life, it may be a good idea to consult a podiatrist.
Using diagnostic tools such as a biomechanical examination or postural evaluation, your podiatrist can identify the source of your pain.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the podiatrist can recommend various treatments.
A cramp caused by morphological factors could, for example, require plantar orthotics, while a sports-related cramp could require manual foot therapy.
To learn more about foot cramp treatments, contact your nearest PiedRéseau clinic.