Most of us have suffered from an unwanted muscle spasm or cramp in the feet - with a sudden contraction or tightening of the muscles. This can happen after spending a long time sitting; undergoing an intense workout; or after a run.
Foot cramps can be be short lived or last much longer and may even cause pain to the affected foot if it becomes bent during the cramps.
What causes foot cramps?
- Cramps usually occur when we are in a resting position after movement. Every time we move, our muscles tighten. Occasionally this can lead to cramps but there is never any warning that cramps will happen.
- Cramps can happen to anyone whatever their age.
- They often occur in athletes because of their extreme exercise regime or because of injuries.
- Cramps are common during pregnancy - especially at the end of the first trimester.
- Cramps can be caused by poor blood circulation, a magnesium deficiency, dehydration, malnutrition or even problems with nerves.
Top ten tips to avoid and relieve the discomfort of foot cramps
It is also possible to suffer from leg cramps to keep you awake at night and affect the quality of your sleep.
- If you find you only have cramping in one foot, try shifting all your body weight to that affected foot for a few minutes while lifting the other leg into the air.
- Avoid wearing tight and closed shoes. Take them off while moving your feet and your toes for instant help.
Lift the foot, bend the toes and place the heel on the floor. Continue by gently moving your toes and keep repeating until the pain and discomfort disappears.
- Try moving your toes upwards while holding your toes with your hands and pulling them towards you.
- Start walking forwards as soon as any pain or cramping starts.
- If the cramping pain continues, apply a warm washcloth to the affected area.
- Consider an acupuncture technique. Use your fingers to press the place between the big and index toes for 30 to 40 seconds at a time.
- Try massaging the affected foot by rubbing for a few minutes to relax the muscles and alleviate the pain. Use a few drops of essential oils for an easier massage. Afterwards, wrap the foot in a towel or soft cloth to achieve even better results. Gentle stretching (at the same time as you "muscle massage") is another healing remedy to help.
- Try drinking Ginkgo tea which can help alleviate foot cramps. Pour 3 tablespoons of ginkgo biloba leaves into a pot containing one cup of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes before leaving the tea to rest for a further 5 minutes. Drink the tea.
- Another tea is Arnica which is said to improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation and pain in the muscles. Brew some arnica tea but instead of drinking it, soak a cotton cloth in the tea and wrap the affected foot. Hold the compression for some 5 minutes. Alternatively, add a few drops of arnica oil to a basin of warm water and give your foot a soak for 10 minutes.