What Causes Foot Cramps and How To Treat Them

8 min read

Foot cramps are muscle spasms that involve the sudden, involuntary contraction of muscles in the foot and can be extremely painful. If you experience muscle cramps regularly, you will be aware of how debilitating they can be, but don’t despair – there are many ways to combat foot cramps and help to prevent them occurring in the future.

Here, we’ll look at the causes of foot cramps and the different ways in which they can be treated through diet, exercise and footwear. If you experience severe or persistent pain in your feet, you should seek advice from a medical professional to find out if there is an underlying cause and access appropriate treatment.

What causes muscle cramps?

Muscle cramps can be caused by a number of factors, including:


If you do not drink enough, you may become dehydrated and this will affect the balance of electrolytes in the body, which can cause muscle cramps. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help to keep the muscles hydrated and may solve the problem.

Mineral imbalances

If you do not have sufficient levels of potassium, calcium or magnesium in the body, you may experience muscle cramps. Sometimes these can be severe and can even wake you up in the night. Taking supplements and eating a more balanced diet can solve this problem and prevent muscle cramps from occurring.

Muscle strain

Overusing or straining the muscles of the feet can lead to muscle cramps, especially if you do a lot of walking or exercising. This reaction of the muscles to being overused is natural but can be incredibly painful and frustrating!

Poor circulation

If you often feel cold, especially in your hands and feet, you may have poor circulation reducing the blood flow to your extremities. Poor circulation may result from sitting or standing in one position for extended periods and can lead to foot cramps.

Nerve compression

Compression of the nerves in the foot, which may be due to conditions like peripheral neuropathy, can cause painful muscle cramps. If you think that this may be the reason for your foot cramps, you should seek advice from your doctor or foot specialist.

Wearing the wrong shoes

Your footwear can make a huge difference to the health of your feet and wearing shoes that are too tight or not supportive enough can contribute to foot cramps. Getting your footwear right can help to prevent many different types of foot problem so it is worth taking the time to find well fitted, comfortable shoes.

Extreme temperatures

Exposure to cold temperatures or sudden changes in temperature can lead to muscle cramps and other painful foot conditions such as chilblains. Wearing thick socks to prevent exposure to the cold is a good way to protect your feet against extreme temperatures in the winter months.

Some medications

Muscle cramps in the body may be cause by certain medications, including diuretics and medications for high blood pressure. These medications can contribute to electrolyte imbalances, and this can be the cause of muscle cramps in the feet.

How to treat muscle cramps

If you experience muscle cramps regularly, you’ll want to find a solution that works. Stopping throughout your day to manage muscle cramps can be very frustrating, and the pain is often unbearable. There are several ways to treat muscle cramps and you may find that one of the following holds the key for you, or you may need to combine the following methods:


Keeping your body well hydrated is a very important way to prevent muscle cramps, as well as keeping the body functioning well. You should aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to keep your body hydrated. Drinking other beverages, especially alcohol, caffeinated drinks or fizzy drinks, will not hydrate the body effectively so try to drink water as often as you can, or try squash or herbal teas if you prefer.

Balanced diet

You should aim to eat a well balanced diet that is rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. Foods like bananas, oranges, leafy greens, dairy products and nuts are all high in these essential minerals and should form part of your diet, providing you with the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and avoid muscle cramps.

Stretching exercises

Stretching exercises can help to improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles, and regularly performing stretching exercises for the feet and legs can be very helpful in preventing muscle cramps. Exercises such as moving from flat feet to tiptoes while standing and pointing and flexing the feet while sitting or lying down can be very effective in stretching out the calf muscles and the muscles of the feet and may help to stop or prevent foot cramps.


If you experience a muscle cramp, you may find that massaging the area is helpful in alleviating the pain and helping the muscle to relax. Your feet will also benefit from regular massage, especially if you use a nourishing oil or foot cream to do this.

Warm-up exercises

Before you begin to exercise, especially if you are doing a high impact form of exercise such as running, you should ensure that you warm up properly to prepare your muscles and reduce the risk of cramps. A good stretching routine can help you to warm up appropriately, and this will also reduce your risk of pulled or strained muscles and other common injuries.

Wear the right shoes

You can protect your feet against many painful foot conditions, including foot cramps, by wearing comfortable and supportive shoes that fit well. Shoes that are too tight or have inadequate arch support may put pressure on certain areas of the feet and can cause foot cramps, bunions and hammertoes. If you are exercising, you should pay particular attention to your footwear, ensuring that you have a good amount of cushioning and that your shoes are a good fit for your feet.

Topical treatments

There are some topical treatments that can help to reduce or relieve muscles cramps, including warm compresses or over the counter creams that contain ingredients such as menthol or camphor to relax the muscles.


A deficiency in magnesium, calcium or potassium may contribute to foot cramps and taking a supplement can help to combat this problem. There are many vitamin and mineral supplements available, in tablet form or as a spray that can be sprayed directly onto the calf muscles and the feet during an episode of muscle cramps. You can talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your options and ask for a blood test if you are worried about mineral deficiencies.

Rule out underlying conditions

If foot cramps are associated with an underlying medical condition, such as peripheral neuropathy, you should seek medical advice to find out more about how to manage this appropriately. You may need to see a specialist and you should speak to your doctor for more information and advice if you are worried about persistent cramps or pain in your feet.

Put your feet up!

For many reasons, putting your feet up is a good plan. Elevating the feet when you sit down or rest can help to improve blood circulation and reduce swelling in the feet and ankles, as well as giving your body a chance to recuperate. Try to build breaks into your day where you can elevate your feet for five to ten minutes and you will soon see the benefits.

Visit Foot Solutions for holistic foot care

At Foot Solutions, we believe that a holistic approach to foot care is the best way to look after your feet throughout your life. We know how important it is to wear good shoes that fit well and provide the support your feet need, and we will always be available to help you find the best options for your feet and your lifestyle. It is very important to protect your feet by rotating your footwear and choosing the appropriate options for your activities, especially if you are exercising as this can put your feet under greater pressure.

When you are choosing new shoes, it is a good idea to shop for them at the end of the day when your feet will have expanded, and it is crucial to ensure that they fit well and provide support in all the right places. It is also vital to consider the socks that you wear, choosing natural fabrics wherever possible and ensuring that they are not too tight, as this can restrict circulation in the feet. If you experience pain or discomfort in your feet, do not ignore it. Seek medical advice as soon as possible if you are in extreme pain or if pain does not resolve with home remedies or over the counter treatments, as foot pain can worsen and lead to further damage if unmanaged.

Pop in and chat to our friendly staff about your foot health and we will share our expertise and help you to find solutions that work for you. We know how frustrating problems like foot cramps can be and we will be happy to help you to find ways to resolve them. We look forward to meeting you in store!