How to prevent painful foot crampsNothing is worse. You get up in the middle of the night with an excruciating pain in your foot and you have no idea why. Very likely you have a foot cramp. While this pain is pretty awful it’s not harmful.

Foot cramps can also come on during the day from exercise or some other activity.

Symptoms of Foot Cramps

Here’s how people experience foot cramps:

  • Intense contractions
  • The muscle feels very hard and tense
  • Muscle twitching
  • Mostly commonly occur in the arch of the foot but can also affect the toes

Causes and Risk Factors for Foot Cramps

muscle fatigueMany different things can bring on a foot cramps including:

  • Muscle fatigue or stress – exercising too hard
  • Lack of exercise
  • Reduced levels of certain nutrients (see below)
  • Certain drugs like statins or medications for high blook pressure
  • Hormonal factors
  • Obesity or thyroid problems
  • Diabetes and peripheral neuropathy
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Dehydration
  • Tight shoes that cut off circulation

Foot Cramp Treatment

foot cramp treatmentWhen you’re experiencing a foot cramp your only thought is to make it stop--the pain can be that intense. Try the following to help your foot relax.

  • Put weight on the foot that’s cramping if you’re sitting or lying down.
  • Pull your foot and toes toward your nose or use your hand or a strap for a stronger pull.
  • If you’re standing, walk on your heels
  • Use massage, ice, or heat
  • You can use a pain reliever like ibuprofen to help any residual pain go away
  • Some people swear by pickle juice

Prevention of Foot Cramps

To prevent foot cramps it’s important do a little bit of sleuthing to see if you can eliminate any of the primary causes.

Avoid Tight Shoes

Your shoes should not fit snugly. Shoes that are too tightly can cut off circulation and cause foot cramps. The next time you purchase shoes be sure to get your feet measured. Many adults experience an increase in shoe size. You may be wearing shoes that are too small and not realize it.

Avoid the Wrong Shoes

Shoes that put strain on your arches can also cause foot cramps. Long hours in high heels or working in flat shoes can both cause problems. Limit your high heel and flat shoe wear. Purchase shoes that provide more arch support and have a heel of less than one inch. Here are more ways for women to avoid problematic shoes.

hydration to prevent foot crampsDrink Enough Water and Replace Electrolytes

Many of us don’t drink enough water. Older adults who are more at risk for foot cramps, tend to drink even less water for fear it will lead to too many trips to the bathroom at night. Athletes who work out a lot need to rehydrate with water and drinks that contain electrolytes.

Don’t Overwork Your Muscles and Get Plenty of Rest

People who work out too hard and too long, separately or in combination with too little sleep are at risk for foot cramps. Get plenty of rest and build up your exercise slowly—only 10% increase per week.

Check Your Nutrient Levels

A low level of nutrients like Vitamin D, Vitamin B6, potassium, calcium or magnesium can also bring on muscle cramps. Ask your doctor to run a nutrient level. Or you can try supplementing with different vitamins to see if these make a difference. You can also eat foods high in potassium and calcium such as bananas, milk, cheese, and fresh vegetables.

check medication side effects to stop foot crampsCheck Your Medication's Side Effects

Because many medications can cause foot cramps, talk to your doctor about your current medication side effects. They may be able to substitute another medication for the one causing your cramps.

What Are Your Chronic Health Issues?

Many people with chronic health issues including diabetes with peripheral neuropathy, or thyroid issues are at higher risk for foot cramps because these illnesses can throw off your electrolyte balance. Talk to your doctor about how to avoid these problems.

Exercises to Prevent Foot Cramps

Build Up Strength in Your Feet

Try the exercises in this video to build up your foot strength.


Stretch Before Any Activity

You can do two different types of stretching before you become active. Static stretches will help loosen up your calf muscles. It’s important to do this before and after exercising to prevent cramping. Dynamic Stretching can help get your whole body ready.

Use Foot Soaks

Soaking your foot in warm water with Epsom salts can also help ease muscle tension.


Need Relief From Painful Foot Cramps in Seattle, Washington? Request an Appointment Now

Don't let painful foot cramps cause you to miss out on the activities you enjoy. Complete the contact form on this page or call our office at 206-368-7000 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Berg.

Most new patients are seen within 1-2 week's time. During your initial visit, Dr. Berg will spend up to 30 minutes getting to know you, your podiatry complaints, and your goals so that he can recommend the treatment best meets your needs. Don’t wait—contact us today.

North Seattle Foot & Ankle Specialist Dr. Rion Berg offers compassionate podiatry care for all foot and ankle problems to those living in Seattle Washington and the surrounding areas. Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an immediate appointment or request an appointment online.

Dr. Rion Berg
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A podiatrist in North Seattle treating families for over 40 years.
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