I’ve had Pilates clients over the years who have been plagued with horrible foot cramps during their Pilates workouts, as well as at home, and at night. While I’ve always been sympathetic to the problem of the toe and arch muscles locking up into a screaming spasm of a foot cramp – I don’t think I personally had ever actually experienced this extreme foot cramping issue until a short couple of months ago. And now I share the challenge of being pro-active to reduce and find quick ways to get foot cramp relief.
Why Do We Get Foot Cramps?
There are lots of reasons why we might get foot cramps:
- Overuse / Weakness
- Poor Shoe Choices
- Hydration (or lack of)
- Nutritional Imbalance
For me, the extreme foot cramps I’ve been experiencing are due to medications. Prednisone to be specific! OH MY GOODNESS… I quickly realized that I was going to have to double up on my efforts to take care of my feet and calves to keep the cramps away!
When foot cramps happen during Pilates training sessions, I always encourage my clients to stop the exercise and get up on their feet to help walk out the muscle spasm. Once it resolves, we either move on to a different exercise, or dive back into what we were doing and see if we can sneak in a couple more reps before another foot cramp attack sets in!
I also have lots of foot “toys” that I use to help stretch and strengthen the feet. These foot-care toys are great to use in-between exercises to help work out a foot cramp (or keep foot cramps from happening in the first place!) Also, my clients love having these foot-care toys at home to use in the morning and evening to help keep the muscles of their feet, strong, supple, and relaxed.
What Are My 3 Favorite Foot Cramp Relief Strategies?
The Circulator Reflexology Massage Mat
The Circulator is a Reflexology Massage Mat. You actively march on the mat to massage the soles of your feet. This helps increase circulation and blood flow, which in turn can help reduce foot cramps. The Circulator mat has a nice little raised bump in the center of the mat, which is perfect for getting to the arches. It also is covered with rubber “knobs,” think of it like a softer version of a bed of nails! All these little spikes hit different pressure points on the bottom of your feet. You can make it less intense by wearing socks, or using the Circulator on a padded carpet. You’ll get a deeper massage by using the mat barefoot or on a hard surface like a wood or tile floor.
Yamuna Foot Savers
The Yamuna Foot Savers most people have a love/hate relationship with. This wonderful little pair of foot relief toys will only hurt if you need them! While on the Circulator you actively move and march, the Yamuna Foot Savers are designed to stand still on and breathe! While you’re standing still, you’re striving to relax and release the muscles on the soles of the feet. You start standing with the Foot Savers under your heels, and every couple of breaths, move forward towards the balls of the feet. For most people somewhere along the arches it’s extremely tender, and like I said, if it hurts – you need this! Chances are, once you can stand on these comfortably, you’ll find that your foot cramping problems aren’t such a problem anymore.
The Exercises in the book Fantastic Feet! and the Centerworks® Foot-Fitness Kit
So the Circulator and Foot Savers are to help relax and release the tension through the feet that can be a contributing factor for foot cramps. But if the muscles of the toes, arches, and calves are not strong and flexible enough – this can also be a reason for foot cramps. It’s important to do both stretching and strengthening exercises for your feet. The book Fantastic Feet is filled with quick, easy to do exercises to keep the toes, arches, and ankles strong, fit, and flexible. The Foot-Fitness Kit contains a massage ball, marbles, sticks, and a thera-band for additional foot-care exercises with extra resistance to progress your foot-fitness workouts.
How Long Does It Take to Get Foot Cramp Relief?
Not long if you’re doing good things to care for your feet, listening to your body, and taking a couple of minutes daily to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the feet and calves.
For me, using the resources above and taking a short 5-10 minutes daily to play with my feet,
either standing on my Foot Savers, or marching for 2 minutes on my Circulator, and doing a few Fantastic Feet exercises, and I’m pleased to say that within a couple of days my feet were feeling much better
and I haven’t bolted out of bed, hopping up and down with a foot cramp now for the past 2 months. Woo-Hoo!!!
Foot cramps are no fun! And a sign that we need to pay attention and be more aware of something going on in our body and lifestyle.
How old are your shoes? How much, (or how little) are you exercising? Are you eating a healthy, well-balanced diet? Are there any medications that you’re taking that might be contributing to getting foot cramps? You often hear "eat more banannas, and baked potatoes" for potassium. And it's always good to stay hydrated, but I don’t believe that water alone will provide optimal foot cramp relief.
This is what's working for me! What else have you found helpful to reduce and eliminate foot cramps? Drop me a comment and share your thoughts!