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Foot Cramps: What a Pain in the Neck!

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Bones & Joints related image Photo: Getty Images

For the past several weeks, I have been craving a really good massage. The stress and tension that has built up in my body from the demands of my crazy schedule is almost unbearable. Even if a steam roller ran over me right now, that would probably not be enough. Most notably, I could really use a great foot massage.

As I am writing this, I have a golf ball underneath my right foot, rolling it back and forth. It feels great, but not nearly as great as a professional foot rub would feel.

As an active individual who works out frequently and who is always on her feet (when not writing), by the end of the day, my dogs are barking. They do not necessarily hurt. They just feel tired and achy. I have noticed lately, too, that when I am in bed at night, sometimes my feet will cramp up, almost as if the fascia that runs at the bottom of each foot has made a fist of itself. I call it the charley horse of the feet. No matter what I do, it will not release its grip. I have to wait a few minutes before it relaxes again. Therefore, I consider that an open invitation to treat myself to a professional foot massage soon!

Foot cramps are most commonly associated with athletes and aging individuals. Since I am not 50 yet, I put myself in the former category and not the latter. Foot cramps may occur for a variety of reasons, some due to physical failures and others due to improper nutrition.

One of the primary reasons for foot cramps, or for any other muscles cramps, is dehydration. When your muscles experience a lack of water, they are prone to cramping. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercising. (This is not the time to recall that half-marathon I ran in over 90 degree temperatures last summer, taking only three sips of water the entire race, as I wanted to reach my goal. I reached my goal, but not without a significant amount of cramping. Yes, in a word, I am stubborn. I also nearly passed out while waiting in line for a post-race smoothie. Not a pretty picture.)

If your feet are not getting enough oxygen in the blood, this can cause poor circulation leading to severe foot and leg cramps. Subsequently, you may experience severe fatigue in the feet. Lack of essential vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, can cause extreme fatigue and can lead to severe foot cramps in bed.

If your muscles are dehydrated, this can lead to great pain and discomfort in your feet. Continual consumption of alcohol over a period of time, as well as the use of tobacco products, can cause dehydration and poor blood circulation. The most notable cause of foot cramps at night is dehydration.

Fluctuating hormone levels can cause foot cramps as well. As hormone levels change, it takes time for the muscles to adapt to the changes. Another cause of foot cramps can be the result of an electric impulse from the brain that cannot reach the muscles in the foot, causing cramps and numbness.

Environmental factors can play a role, too, such as inhaling poisonous gases or consuming contaminated water. Further, certain medications may produce side effects that cause foot cramps.

Foot cramps are frequently seen in people who are suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular and renal issues. It is imperative that you see your doctor if you suspect your foot cramps are more than just routine cramps. Those aching feet could be alerting you to something far more serious.

For the occasional foot cramps that have been determined not to be associated with a particular disease, there are certain remedies you can try at home to alleviate the discomfort. Eat bananas for the potassium benefits. Be sure to drink plenty of water each day. Apply a cold compress to your feet on occasion. Massage your feet with essential oils.

I really like the sound of that last one. This golf ball is just not cutting it. I need professional help! My tired, aching feet can be a real pain in the neck, sometimes! Come to think of it, a neck rub would be great, too!


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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.