why do we get cramp in feet
You know that strange thing when your toes start twitching and involuntarily twisting around each other? Or when you wake up in the middle of the night with your foot flexed, immovable, and shooting with pain? What is with those cramps? (If you experience muscle cramps,. )
"They're usually a warning that you're overdoing it," says Charles Kim, MD, a musculoskeletal rehab specialist at NYU Langone's Rusk Rehabilitation. "But if you feel cramping getting worse and not relenting, you should talk to a doctor. " Frequent foot cramping may signal an underlying medical condition involving the circulatory or central nervous system, so see your physician if your muscle spasms make you uneasy or interfere with your daily life. (Got 10 minutes? Then you've got time to lose the weight for good with Prevention's new 10-minute workouts and 10-minute meals. Get now! ) But most of the time, toe cramps have a few common causes and can be treated with some DIY interventions. MORE: The Causes Toe cramps have various triggers, but overuse, , and mineral deficiencies (particularly, calcium, and ) are some of the most common culprits, according to Kim. When you exercise, you sweat out the minerals your muscles need. And that deficiency causes muscle contractions or spasms, which we call cramps. "If you've gone for a long run, overexerted yourself, or overtrained, toe cramps are your muscles telling you to dial it back because they can't take the strain," says Kim. Toe cramps also frequently stem from unnecessary strain or restricted blood flow from tight-fitting shoes. (If you need a new pair, consider these. ) Age, of course, is not kind to your feet either.
Toe cramps often appear after 50, when bones lose calcium and muscles lose elasticity and strain to support your body. Also, "as we age, our nerve and vascular function isn't as robust as it used to be," says Kim. "That leads to cramping because your nerves, which provide nutrition and messages to your muscles, aren't fully up to the task. " MORE: The Cures First, the bad news: There's no magic cure for toe cramps. The FDA no longer recommends prescribing quinine, an antimalarial drug, because of controversy over its efficacy and safety. And research shows that magnesium supplements seem to make no difference at all. Now, the good news: You can reduce and prevent toe cramps, assuming you don't have an underlying condition. Here are four fixes to try: Youre sound asleep, and then, without warning, you wake up with a paralyzing stiffness in your calf or foot. Whether you call it a foot or legPcramp (aka charley horse ), its a common, somewhat mysterious painPthatPhappens when a muscle gets involuntarily stiff and cant relax. They tend to happen more frequently as we age, saysPsports and exercise medicine physicianP. P While they can be uncomfortable, they are rarely harmful. Here s what causes these cramps, as well as tips to help prevent them. RELATED:P Whether day or night, your foot and calf muscles canPspasm or cramp. This can happen to various muscles not just in the legs or feet though these cramps are often most uncomfortable.
Lack of hydration. If you are experiencing cramping, it s important to look at your hydration first, Dr. Gladden says. You want to make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. Problems with nutrition. P While a balance of electrolytes (calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium) is essential for the contraction and relaxation of a muscle, it s best not to simplyPself-treat with supplements. TakingPexcess supplements if youPdon t need them can be harmful, Dr. Gladden says. Instead, she suggests eating a variety of foods with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. This includes leafy greens and fruits, including bananas, to add a balance of electrolytes to you diet. Side effect of medication. P Some medications such as statins andPfurosemide (Lasix^) can also cause muscle cramps. A tip-off is when cramps start suddenly after you begin taking a new medication. If this happens, see your practitioner. Not stretching enough. Taking time toP each day, includingPafter a brief warm up or after a shower can help. You want your muscles to be as strong and supple as they can be. Adequate stretching after a brief warm-up period is key to this, Dr. Gladden says. Overexertion. If you exercise harder than usual or experience muscle fatigue, this can cause cramps. Pace yourself. Poor circulation. If you have cramping that increases when you walk, it could be a problem with your circulation. Some circulation problems cause pain that feels like cramping. If it gets worse when you walk, or if you have cramps that just don t stop, definitely see your doctor, Dr.
Gladden says. The wrong shoes. APless-known cause for muscle cramping: your shoes. You want to look at your shoes, especially if you changed from flats to heels. This also can cause cramps, Dr. Gladden says. RELATED:P If it happens while you are lying down or in bed, try to simply stand up and put some weight on the affected leg or foot. This can sometimes be enough to stop that tender stiffness. UsePwarmth/heating pads to increase blood circulation to the muscle and to relax it. Soaking in a warm tub of Epsom salt can also help ease the tension. For more stubborn pain, you can try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen. Here are somePsimplePstretches that can help stop pain and preventPit. Basic calf stretch This calf stretch is commonly used by runners. Heres how to do it: Stand with your palms placed against a wall, with arms stretched out You should feel a stretch in your calf muscle and the back of the leg. Towel stretch Take a towel or neck tie and wrap it around your foot, holding it with both hands RELATED:P Stretch each day, especially before you exercise Eat a balanced diet that includes natural sources ofPcalcium, potassium and magnesium If leg or foot cramps are occasional occurrences, you can generally manage them yourself. However, if they happen frequently, are severe, or if you are concerned any of your medications are the culprit, talk to your doctor. They could signal a medical problem that requires treatment.
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