Preventing Foot Cramps

If you’ve ever experienced the sharp, sudden pain of a foot cramp, you know how painful they can be. There are many causes of foot cramps, but regardless of the cause use the self-help hints below or make an appointment to see us in our Seattle foot and ankle clinic for help relieving your foot cramps.

Video: Eliminate Foot Cramps Forever

One of the most common causes of foot cramps is fatigue or overwork of the muscles in the bottom of the foot. If we find this is the cause of foot cramps we start our patients on the following program designed to eliminate the muscle fatigue:

Support the Arch with the Best Possible Arch Supports

By wearing appropriate arch supports the muscles in the arch of the foot are less likely to be overworked during the day. This leads to much less chance of cramps when at rest. The products below are the ones we recommend to our patients and they are also affiliate links so we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if your order from the link

For the best chance at reducing cramps, use arch supports that conform close to the arch of the foot. Our orthotic for foot crampsrecommended prefabricated arch support is the the FootChair Orthotic with Adjustable Arch Height. These unique orthotics have a very supportive arch plus they come with pads that be placed in a pocket under the cover of the orthotic to increase the arch height. For best results use the highest arch that is comfortable for you.  FootChair orthotics will fit in lace-up athletic and walking shoes.

For women’s dress and casual shoes we recommend the FootChair Slim Orthotic with adjustable arch height to our patients. While it’s smaller size makes it less supportive than the full-size FootChair Orthotic, it will fit much better in smaller shoes and still has the unique adjustable arch height. In fact, the Slenderfit will work in everything from fashion sneakers like converse to flats to high heels to soccer cleats.

For times when you do not want to wear shoes, use a sandal or slipper with superior arch support. Our favorite (by far) are the sandals and slippers from Vionic. These are built with exceptional support.

Now, here is the most important point we tell our patients. For the first month, you must wear the orthotics (or the orthotic sandals) at all times you are bearing weight. Only by wearing them all the time will you give the extra support a chance to best eliminate the cramps.

If Prefabricated Orthotics Don’t Provide Adequate Relief, Custom Orthotics Can Provide Greater Support and Relief from Cramps

If you have some, but not complete relief from cramps with the prefabricated orthotics, well made custom orthotics will usually give you even more relief. Because the custom orthotics conform closer to the arch of your foot they provide greater support and are more likely to reduce the number of foot cramps you experience.

Contact us for an appointment in our Seattle clinic to see if you are a candidate for custom orthotics.

Wear Stable Shoes

Along with good arch support, wearing stable shoes will reduce foot fatigue during the day to make foot cramps less likely at night. You can get our list of recommended shoes here.

Strengthen Your Arch

All of the above treatments are focused on supporting the arch. The second part of preventing foot cramps that are due to muscle fatigue is to strengthen the arch. You can learn how to strengthen the arch on this page.

Other Causes of Foot Cramps

Many foot cramps are due to muscle fatigue and seem to respond well to the treatment above. But there are other causes that might require other therapies.

Low Magnesium as a Cause of Foot Cramps

Some researchers believe that that low magnesium levels are the most common cause of  foot and leg cramps, although the evidence to support this theory is limited.

It may be worthwhile to try magnesium supplementation to see if it helps. As long as your kidney function is normal, magnesium supplementation is usually safe.

This article here at provides detailed information on magnesium supplementation.  You should discuss magnesium supplementation with your doctor before proceeding.

Other Potential Causes of Foot and Leg Cramps

  • Poor circulation – Foot cramp is caused by lack of oxygen being carried to the muscles of the feet.
  • Lack of potassium.
  • Dehydration – Lack of water in the muscles may cause foot cramps.
  • Changing hormone levels – Foot cramps may occur while muscle tissue adjusts to these changes.
  • Pinched nerves – Caused when the electrical impulse from the brain cannot reach the muscle, this can cause foot cramps, numbness and other symptoms.
  • Alcohol or tobacco use – Since both lend to dehydration, poor circulation and toxicity, these can cause many foot cramps.
  • Nutritional deficiency – A healthy diet, complete with all essential nutrients can keep muscles and nerves functioning normally.

Regardless of the cause, we will work with you to figure out the best treatment for your foot cramps. Make an appointment to see us in our Seattle office.

Summary – Best Treatments for Foot Cramps

Most of our patients have been successful at either eliminating foot cramps or at least reducing their frequency with the treatments above and this is the best advice we can currently give. Unfortunately, foot cramps are not as well understood as we would like. In fact, this is the portion of our web page where we usually list the research articles on which we base our treatment decisions on a particular condition. We cannot, however, find a single quality article on foot cramps.

We are committed to making our treatments evidence based if at all possible and base most of our treatments on what the literature tells us is the best treatment for a particular problem.

In the case of foot cramps, however, we are basing our recommendations on what we have found most effective over the past 30 years.

We will update this page with information on research on foot cramps should that information become available.

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