Foot Cramps At Night

Causes And Preventative Measures

By: - Health & Fitness - June 1, 2011
foot cramps at night

If you’ve ever awoken to foot cramps, then you know how awful it is to wake up in such agonizing pain. Foot cramps at night are often referred to as nocturnal leg cramps and affect both the foot and the calf of the leg. Many people refer to the cramp as a “Charlie Horse”. Foot and leg cramps can hurt so badly that you can barely breathe. It’s terrible way to wake up and severe cramps can leave behind soreness that lasts for several days. What causes these cramps? Is there anything to be done for it?
There are many potential causes for leg and foot cramps. It cannot be singled down to one thing and experts are not aware of any one cure that suits every sufferer of these pains. Leg cramps can happen to anyone, at any age, while they are sleeping or resting. They do not have to occur at night, though they often do. Leg cramps are more common in middle-aged and older adults but they are certainly not restricted by age. They can be brought on by dehydration, overuse of the muscle, a deficiency in potassium and from not wearing appropriate shoes. More rarely, nocturnal leg cramps are associated with various medical conditions, including diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, endocrine disorders and contraceptive pills.
Preventing foot cramps at night before they begin is a fine place to start with getting rid of them. Make sure you stay well hydrated. Not being well hydrated allows toxins to build up in the muscle tissue and some theorize this is what causes the cramping. While it’s a theory only, it’s a sound one and dehydration causing leg cramping is well documented. So make sure you’re getting the daily recommendation of water (not soda, coffee or drinks loaded with sugar). Athletes have for many years used the trick of eating a banana every day to make sure they maintain potassium at optimal levels. Make sure to wear proper shoes for your feet. The occasionally fancy boot or high-heels is fine, but your everyday shoes should fit properly and support your foot correctly so as not to strain the muscles in either the calf or foot. When going to bed, stretch first or do some light aerobic exercise to loosen up any tension remaining in your legs from the day. Keep your bedclothes loose so that your toes are not being compressed and inadvertently tensing your calves or the muscles in the sole of your foot.
If you should wake up with a foot cramp at night, don’t panic. It may help relieve the cramp if you stretch the muscle. Do this by flexing your toes firmly by gently up towards your shins. Some people find that walking or a warm shower helps loosen things up while others have better luck with an ice-pack and a massage. Nocturnal leg cramps rarely last more than a few minutes and tensing will only make it worse. Gently but firmly get moving around and it will loosen.
It’s never fun to have leg cramps, so taking every step that you can to prevent them will help you avoid waking up in the middle of the night feeling like you have been twisted like a pretzel.

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