Foot and leg cramps, also known as “charley horses,” happen when a muscle involuntarily contracts and can’t relax. They occur more frequently in older patients. While they are rarely harmful or indicative of a more serious problem, they are uncomfortable and it’s a good idea to know how to stop them.
Coping with Foot and Leg Cramps
There are some simple ways to deal with leg and foot cramps as they are occurring. Dr. James M. McKee recommends that you take the following steps to shorten the duration and severity of your cramps:
- Try to stand up and walk. A change in position or function is often enough to relax the cramping muscles.
- Use a hot water bottle or heating pad to increase circulation and relax the affected area. A warm bath or shower can also help.
- An over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen can ease any lingering discomfort.
Preventing Foot and Leg Cramps
Whether day or night, your foot and calf muscles – or any other muscle in your body – can spasm or cramp. Here are some tips from James M. McKee, DPM, FACFAS to help keep your foot and leg cramps to a minimum:
- Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Limit or avoid caffeine, sugary beverages and alcohol, all of which can contribute to cramping.
- Pay attention to nutrition. Eat a variety of foods with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. Be sure to include leafy greens and bananas, which provide important trace minerals that help minimize muscle cramps.
- Did your cramps start suddenly after you began taking a new medication? Some can cause muscle cramps so talk to your health care professionals.
- Take time to stretch each day to keep muscles strong and supple. This is especially important before and after exercise.
- Consider adding a gentle yoga or tai chi class to your weekly schedule.
- Choose practical shoes with a low, wide heel and plenty of arch support for everyday wear. Save those gorgeous high heels for special occasions.
If your muscle spasms increase in frequency or severity and you aren’t able to manage them on your own, Podiatry Group of Annapolis, P.A. can help. Call us at 410-224-4448 or click here today to schedule a convenient appointment to see Dr. James M. McKee in our comfortable and convenient Annapolis, MD office.