Foot cramps can stop you dead in your tracks during an after-dinner walk, a workout, or even as you lay in bed. These ultra-painful, involuntary muscle contractions can happen in a matter of seconds, but getting them to stop can take much longer.
If you are suffering from foot cramps, but cannot figure out just what is causing them, it could be any number of reasons. Here are just a few of the most common causes of foot cramps: mineral deficiency, long periods of time spent standing, poor circulation, dehydration, overuse of the area, injury, and prior medical conditions.
No matter what the cause is of your foot cramps, you can rid yourself of this painful occurrence with these five home remedies.
1. Always Stretch
Stretching during a foot cramp is a good way to quickly reduce the pain. However, if you want to prevent the cramps from happening in the first place, you need to stretch before any strenuous activity, especially exercise routines.
Here is a simple ball stretch you can do to prevent recurring foot cramps:
- Put a soft tennis ball on the floor.
- Place your foot on top of the ball and push the ball forward and back, rolling it along the bottom of your foot.
- Start from the base of your toes and work the ball down to your heels.
- You can also use a golf ball or can of soup. You’ll love the way this feels on tired feet at the end of the day.
2. Hot Oil Massage
In a pinch, you may have to do this massage sans the oil. However, the added glide of the oil, plus the relaxing effect of heat, makes it worth the effort if you have time to prepare the oil. The best oils for hot foot massages include extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and jojoba seed oil.
How to do a hot oil massage on cramping feet: Put a small amount of oil in a glass container and place it in the microwave until it is lukewarm (10-20 seconds). Then, drop a small amount into the palms of your hands and rub into feet, beginning at the arches. Gently work the oil into muscles with circular motions. Massage from the center of the arch upwards to the toes, then repeat from the center of the arches to the base of the heel. Repeat as needed to relieve pain and muscle spasms.
3. Try Turmeric
Turmeric is a root herb that can be purchased in supplement form, or added into cuisines as a powder for a touch of spicy flavor. Studies have shown that turmeric may help to reduce swelling and irritation in a similar way to pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).1
When applied topically, turmeric grounds may also help to relieve muscle tension that contributes to foot cramps.2
4. Drink More Water
If you are only drinking water when you feel the pang of thirst, you are already dehydrated. And dehydration is one of the leading causes of cramps that affect muscles in the feet. Aim to consume the recommended amounts of water every day to avoid potentially causing foot cramps due to a lack of water in muscle cells. For men, this is 3.46 liters (117 ounces) of water per day, and for women, it’s 2.75 liters (93 ounces) per day. Increase your water intake if you do physical activity.3
5. Eat Healthy Foods
Mineral deficiencies are a common cause for involuntary muscle cramps in the foot. That’s because many minerals, known as electrolytes, carry the electrical impulse from one muscle cell to another. Without them, muscles fail to function properly, and can cramp.
These are the seven most vital electrolytes:
Get more of these minerals into your diet with these nutrient-dense foods and beverages:
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Note: For people who suffer from foot cramps at night, a tall glass of warm milk may help, due to its calcium content.
Acetic acid has also been shown to effectively relieve muscle cramps in hydrated adults. Foods that contain this compound include (brace yourself) pickle juice, vinegar, and kombucha tea.4
Muscle cramps can be frustrating – not to mention painful! Stop foot cramps before they take hold with these home remedies. If the cramping persists even, after you have worked to prevent it and treated with home remedies, call your doctor to see if there may be a more serious cause of this painful problem.
Looking for more foot care tips? Keep reading:
1. Kuptniratsaikul V, Dajpratham P. Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clin Interv Aging. 2014 Mar 20;9:451-8. doi:
2. Nicol LM, Rowlands DS. Curcumin supplementation likely attenuates delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015.
3. Asher Rosinger, Ph.D., M.P.H., and Kirsten Herrick, Ph.D., M.Sc. Daily Water Intake Among U.S. Men and Women, 2009–2012. NCHS Data Brief No. 242, April 2016
4. Miller KC, Mack GW. Reflex inhibition of electrically induced muscle cramps in hypohydrated humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 May;42(5):953-61.