We runners know how important it is to take care of our feet, and foot cramps are one of the most common annoyances we face. We can sometimes feel it in our arch or our toes.

It doesn’t matter where the cramps form, they are always painful. When you encounter one, you’ll probably wonder, What is a foot cramp? We know how it feels because we’ve been there, so here’s a list of common causes, treatments, and prevention tips so you can tackle the issue head on. It’s important you know what causes foot cramps.

What causes foot cramps?

In the past, cramping was thought to be caused by dehydration and/or an electrolyte imbalance. Today, current thinking puts more emphasis on muscle fatigue as the cause.

It usually occurs when your muscles become fatigued due to a failure in the communication between your brain and your muscles, which causes the muscle to contract but not relax afterwards, resulting in a muscle cramp.

Many factors can contribute to muscle fatigue, including dehydration, overtraining, and a lack of circulation caused by your shoes.

When Cramps Are Caused By Dehydration

You can rule out hydration problems by drinking more water and adding electrolytes. It is simple to adjust your intake to rule this factor out by making sure you consume the correct amount of hydration and electrolytes.

When Overtraining Causes Cramps

Training and mileage would be next on the list of possible fatigue factors. Do you do too much, too soon? Did you recently increase your distance or speedwork? Try reducing your distance training volume by one-third for two weeks and gradually rebuild. Don’t go beyond a 10-percent increase in weekly distance.

In The Case of Cramps Caused by Poor Circulation

Besides your running shoes, your day-to-day shoes can also contribute to muscle fatigue. Make sure your shoes do not restrict your circulation in any way. To be sure that you are wearing the right running shoes, go to your local running store like Fullscope Sports and get a shoe fitted. (To help you find the right shoes, here are some running shoe tips.)

Your running shoes should be replaced frequently. Dress shoes must have a wide toe box so your foot can fit comfortably. The heel height of the shoe should also be appropriate for your foot, as should the arch support it provides. 

When dealing with muscle cramps, improving circulation is of utmost importance. While carrying away waste products, circulation supplies working muscles with nutrition and oxygen. After your run, stretch out your calves and your feet to improve your circulation. 

Other Methods for Treating Foot Cramps

As well as loosening tight muscles, massage can also help remove adhesions between fascia and muscles and improve blood flow. The feet and lower legs can be massaged easily by yourself. As the calf muscles are tight, they can affect circulation to the foot. Use a foam roller to loosen them up. 

Work on your feet by focusing on the tendons that connect your toes. Next, massage the arch and the bottom of your foot. Another way to improve circulation is to soak in a warm bath or to use a heating pad on your lower legs and feet.

In Conclusion

Finally, if your foot cramps frequently, you may be experiencing other, more serious issues. Be sure to consult your physician if cramping persists or worsens, as muscle fatigue may be more serious than you think.