It is a painful and uncomfortable sensation that usually occurs at night and is more common in pregnant women, the elderly and people with circulatory problems.
Foot cramps are one of the most painful and unpleasant sensations. Moreover, they usually occur in the middle of the night, which makes them even more uncomfortable, as they disrupt our sleeping hours due to spasms. Cramps are muscle contractions that can vary in intensity: they may last only a few seconds or minutes and disappear, or they may be accompanied by other symptoms such as burning or tingling.
Initially, cramps are not the result of serious pathology. However, if they appear continuously, they may be a sign of a circulatory or nervous system disorder. Also, as a general criterion, it is good to know that spasms are more frequent in the elderly, athletes, patients with motor neuron disease (which affects the spinal cord causing weakness and muscle atrophy) and pregnant women.
First, it is important to differentiate between a cramp and muscle overload. Overload manifests as muscle stiffness, soreness and lack of flexibility, while cramps manifest as involuntary contractions. Cramps manifest as involuntary contractions. However, the main difference is in the way they occur. While muscle overload occurs gradually and after excessive effort, cramps occur suddenly and without warning.
The causes of cramps and how to get rid of them
Regarding the causes of cramps point out four in particular:
- Dehydration. This is one of the most common causes and is related to physical exercise. When we sweat, we lose very important minerals, such as chloride, sodium and magnesium. Magnesium plays an essential role in muscle function, helping to reduce fatigue and exhaustion. It is therefore essential to prevent dehydration and replenish salts and minerals that have been eliminated during training. To do this, it is best to drink plenty of water or isotonic drinks.
- Overexertion. Warming up and stretching before sports practice are part of the decalogue of any athlete, whether a beginner or an experienced one. The body must be prepared for exercise by gradually increasing heart rate and circulation. This not only prevents damage to the cardiovascular system, but also prevents serious injuries and fractures, sprains and strains.
- Narrow shoes. Frequent wearing of narrow shoes can lead to circulatory problems, fungus and ingrown toenails (which cause pain and inflammation in the affected area). But it can also cause foot cramps.
- Poor circulation. Although it can also be caused by bad shoes and pregnancy, when swelling appears in the legs and feet, it can also be due to bad habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol or eating a diet high in saturated fats. “If the muscles don't get the oxygen they need, they stop working properly and can cause painful cramps.
Whether they occur during a workout, at night, or at any other time of day, heat can be applied to relieve the symptoms. Then cold should be applied. But if the cramps are due to dehydration, in addition to these tips, all fluids that have been removed should be replaced. Nevertheless, podiatrists recommend consulting a specialist to determine the possible cause.
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