A sudden outburst "ahhhhh"! Followed by moaning, it's a pain that's difficult to describe. Foot cramps are something that many people experience from time to time. A muscle cramp in the foot is an involuntary spasm that may only last a few minutes or continue for several days. The pain associated with these spasms is a result of the muscle being contracted while it is in a lengthened state. The cramp may be confined to a single muscle or involve an entire group of muscles. They usually occur in the inner arch of the foot or near the toes. Muscle cramps generally occur more often in the foot than other body areas.
General causes of foot cramps
There are many different reasons why foot cramps may develop. Some have to do with nutrition, while other bouts are due to excess strain on the feet themselves.
Many of us have done it; we want to lose weight (especially for Carnival), and so plunge right into an overambitious exercise programme that left our muscles throbbing; this is a contributor.
Cramps can often be the result of an external factor such as a sedentary lifestyle. A lack of sufficient exercise can cause muscle weakness and obesity, which contribute to cramping.
Another one of the more common reasons is old-fashioned fatigue. Cramps can occur when the feet are simply tired, from walking or standing for extended periods of time. This can be especially true in settings where the walking and standing take place on a hard and unforgiving surface, such as concrete.
Foot pain and cramping may also be a sign of decreased circulation. When the blood flow to the extremities is not what it should be, those extremities do not receive the oxygen they need. When it comes to the feet, an inadequate supply of oxygen can cause muscles in the feet to cramp as happens with people affected by diabetes.
A lack of essential vitamins and minerals can also give rise to cramps. Low levels of potassium, calcium, or vitamin D may prevent foot muscles from contracting in a normal manner. A high level of magnesium in the bloodstream may have the same effect.
Poor hydration may be a trigger as well. And if smoking and the consumption of alcohol are added to the equation, the risk of dehydration is increased. This situation may then be the root cause of the cramps.
Repetitive motion injuries from activities such as walking, running, and bicycle riding may also produce involuntary muscle spasms.
Heavily worn or improper footwear has also been known to contribute to muscle cramping in the feet and legs.
Finally, hormonal imbalances and depleted body fluids from excessive sweating can also contribute to involuntary muscle contractions.
How do you get rid of it?
There are treatments or lifestyles changes that can help to minimise the physical discomforts brought on by diabetes and other health conditions, which could also decrease the potential for cramping in one or both feet. Consider the following:
Massage You can either do this on your own or get someone to help you. Massage may be especially helpful just after exercising, and you might want to consider massaging your legs regularly after exercise or any other type of strenuous activity. It is possible that regular leg massages may also help to prevent muscle cramps in the legs, especially if they are done after exercising.
Proper nutrition A foot cramp due to poor nutrition can be reversed within a matter of days when the body begins to receive the right balance of vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. Nutritional deficiencies can be corrected by eating a balanced diet and using supplements to provide the body with anything it is not getting from the food.
Proper hydration Drink your recommended daily quota of water.
Minimise smoking It's self-explanatory, and affects your level of hydration.
Minimise alcohol consumption Has the same effect as smoking as mentioned earlier.
If leg cramps are a regular problem for you and seem particularly bothersome at night, you may need to occasionally take pain relievers at bedtime to help you sleep better. Keep in mind that regular use of pain relievers is not recommended; chronic leg cramps should be seen about by a doctor as they may sometimes be symptoms of other health issues.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!
Leana Huntley is an English trained foot health practitioner attached to ALMAWI Limited
The Holistic Clinic. Call to make an appointment at 662-1732 or firstname.lastname@example.org Tuesday - Saturday. Check for the Clinic at www.almawiclinic.com.