As if from nowhere, the muscles in your foot tense up.
It can come in the middle of the night, while you’re out walking or just sitting at your desk.
Sudden and seemingly random foot cramps like these can have various causes, according to Dr Bernhard Dickreiter, a rehabilitation physician based in Germany.
Often, it’s caused by overloading the foot muscles, e.g. from overdoing it while jogging.
But another common cause is a so-called foot malposition; in other words, when a foot develops in a way that leads to too much pressure being placed on certain parts of the foot or leg.
When it comes to cramps, many people quickly think of a magnesium deficiency.
This can certainly be responsible for the cramps, but it’s by no means the only possible cause.
Muscle cramps can also be a side effect of medication.
If your foot cramps are no longer just sporadic, but occurring regularly, then it’s time to tell a doctor.
“In some cases, serious complaints such as diabetes, nerve or thyroid diseases, or circulatory disorders, can be the cause,” says Dr Dickreiter.
For immediate relief of foot cramps, there is an exercise you can try.
Sit down and pull your cramped toes towards your body with one hand.
With the other hand, gently stretch out the foot towards the heart.
Cramps can be prevented by allowing the muscles to relax from time to time.
You might rest your legs up on a cushion or take a warm (foot) bath.
And if you get to the bottom of the cause of your foot cramps, you may be able to take specific corrective action.
For example, if a malposition is the cause, you can use shoe inserts to correct your foot’s position.
Magnesium supplements can be the solution if the problem is in your mineral balance, but your doctor may want to do a blood test to check for other possible deficiencies.
A good idea after playing sports or exercising is having a snack containing magnesium.
Dr Dickreiter advises a banana, nuts or some wholemeal bread. – dpa