Leg and foot cramps can be extremely painful. Attempting to wiggle the toes or stretch the leg to work out the cramp only makes it hurt more. Here are some leg and foot cramp facts that may be of help.
What are leg and foot cramps?
A leg or foot cramp is an involuntary spasm in a muscle that may last anywhere from a few minutes to several days. A cramp is extremely painful when it occurs. The affected muscle may continue to be sore even after the cramp disappears.
Parts affected by leg and foot cramps
Cramps often occur in the thigh and calf muscles of the leg. On the foot, the big toe and the inner arch are affected. The pain is the same regardless of where the cramp takes place.
The causes of leg and foot cramps
A number of things can cause leg or foot cramps. A sedentary lifestyle leads to muscle weakness, and without muscle strengthening exercises, cramping may occur. Alcoholics and smokers may suffer cramps because of a lower supply of oxygen in the blood due to poor circulation.
If a person is not exercising much, by the time he reaches 40, he may begin to lose muscle. If he suddenly participates in a physical activity, the muscles won't work as effectively as they did before. They will not respond well to temperature and exercise changes. All of this leads to leg and foot cramps.
Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, tetanus, thyroid problems and diabetes are a few of the diseases that can cause muscle cramps. They can also be caused by a hormonal imbalance, a vitamin D deficiency or a low intake of liquids. Old shoes may be the cause of the problem, too.
Certain medications, such as diuretics, oral contraceptives and blood pressure drugs, may cause muscle cramping. Muscle fatigue and pregnancy are other conditions that may also be a problem. In certain cases, diarrhea may be the culprit.
How to prevent leg and foot cramps
Exercise faithfully, and stay physically fit. Be sure to warm up before playing or exercising, and cool down when you finish. Drink plenty of water every day to keep the body well hydrated.
Cramps may be prevented by doing stretching exercises that help keep the muscles loose. To stretch the feet and the calf muscles, extend the legs and pull the toes firmly back. Before stretching the muscles, it helps to massage the foot and the leg.
Home remedies for leg and foot cramps
If the foot or calf begins to cramp, move it in the opposite direction of the cramp. Turn the toes upward and back in both situations. This quickly helps to relieve the pain and muscle contraction.
See an alternative-medicine doctor about supplements that can help correct nutritional deficiencies. Begin taking vitamin E on a daily basis.