What Causes Foot Cramps?

Experiencing foot cramps can sometimes be a nightmare, especially if you are an athlete competing at an important game in a particular sport or a runner who is trying to finish a marathon. Foot cramps can often make you immobile, as you would have to endure seconds or even minutes of excruciating foot pain before you can start to move again.

While a lot of people get foot cramps, some may not be knowledgeable in terms of its causes and effects on the body. To find out more about what exactly foot cramps are and what treatments are effective in alleviating their symptoms, here is a guide on the causes of foot cramps and how to prevent it from occurring.


A foot cramp is a condition where the muscles of your foot keep experiencing spasms, which can cause pain. There are many reasons as to why foot cramps happen, and here are some of the reasons why.

Dehydration is considered as the number one cause of foot cramps. Water is needed to keep your tissues and muscles going, and they are required to have a steady supply of it in order not to overheat. Once you become dehydrated, your muscles will be unable to cool off and start to overheat, which causes foot cramps.

Overheating usually occurs due to too much exercise. For example, if you are working out for more than 2 hours without drinking water, there is a high chance that you will get cramps not only on your foot but also in other parts of your body too.

Another possibility of you getting foot cramps is if you are exercising too much on your first or second time in the gym. Since your muscles aren’t fit enough to handle intense workouts, you would need to have shorter exercise sessions at first, then the sessions should gradually get longer as your muscles gain mass. Having a balanced diet is also essential to be fit, but you would need plenty of protein to get muscle mass faster and to have enough energy for longer exercises.

Another cause of foot cramps is if you wear shoes that are too tight or even too loose. If your shoes are lower in size, then there’s a possibility that the toes inside the shoes will start cramping because fluid can’t get through to their muscles since they are stuck in one position. The condition is similar to how our arm can fall asleep if there is too much pressure on its nerves because of a poor sleeping position or because of long hours of inactivity. If your shoes are too loose, then your toes may move around excessively inside, which can also cause foot cramps due to overheating.

Besides dehydration and incorrect shoe size, some people get foot cramps because they have low levels of potassium. The said mineral and electrolyte is normally the one that regulates muscle and nerve cells functions, and people suffering from low levels of potassium will be unable to control how their muscles and nerves react to certain activities. This condition is called hypokalemia, and cramps are not its only symptoms, as there is also constipation, muscle weakness, abnormal heartbeat, and fatigue.

Treatment and Prevention

There are several ways to treat foot cramps and prevent them from happening. The first method is by drinking water regularly. Getting proper dehydration allows your muscles to acquire enough fluids to stop it from overheating.

If you have mild dehydration due to fatigue or exhaustion, then you may need to drink more water, or you can get a beverage that has electrolytes to help you control your muscle and nerve cells. However, if you are severely dehydrated, then a doctor may require you to get intravenous (IV) fluids since drinking water isn’t enough to supply your body with sufficient fluids.

Another prevention method for foot cramps is by wearing the correct size of shoes. You must know what your foot size is in order for you to purchase the perfect shoes, and the right foot size can be determined by your orthopedist. Even if you buy the correct size of shoes, your footwear may still be unable to prevent foot cramps if they don’t have proper support.

Consider buying special insoles that provide cushion and comfort for your feet inside the shoes, and make sure that they don’t add any weight since your feet may be exerting too much force while waking on heavy shoes.

As stated previously, do not try to exercise too much if you are just a beginner. Try to take breaks every now and then to drink water or to eat something that will boost your energy, like a nutrition bar.

For those suffering from hypokalemia, the doctor may recommend that you take oral supplements, especially if you are planning to do exercises or sports. If you have hypokalemia and have overexerted yourself while exercising, then you may need to be injected with IV potassium to keep your potassium levels normal.

Foot cramps are normal most of the time, as we often can’t stop ourselves from getting dehydrated while doing sports or marathons, but there are some cases where the cramps may be severe and may even occur to some almost every day. Those who are experiencing foot cramps regularly may need to consult their doctor, as there can be underlying problems surrounding the cause of cramping in their muscles.