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Foot Cramps and Running Problems

author image Rachel Moran
Rachel Moran started writing in 2003. Her journalism has appeared in "Orange," "Luxury," "Creative Loafing," "tbt*" and other publications. Her fiction has appeared in the "Tampa Review," "Florida Review," "BLOW" and "Pindeldyboz." Her copywriting has served clients from Bayer to Volkswagen. Moran received her Bachelor of Arts in writing from the University of Tampa.
Foot Cramps and Running Problems
A woman runs along an outdoor trail. Photo Credit pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images

Foot cramps can cause serious running problems. Not only are they extremely painful, but if you suffer one while on the go, you can trip, twist your ankle or knee or otherwise hurt yourself. Learn a few prevention strategies and solutions for when you do cramp, so that you can stay focused on your running form, speed and distance.


Each foot contains about 33 muscles, some of which connect to the lower leg, but all of which work hard when you run. These muscles bear and propel your weight, keep you balanced and absorb shock, all while responding to changes in your direction as you run. If you suffer dehydration, mineral deficiencies or fatigue, the nerve impulses that regulate and inhibit contraction while you run may cause these muscles to cramp for a few or several seconds.


Preventing cramps includes staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet containg potassium, magnesium, calcium and manganese. Eat bananas or oranges or drink tonic water. Wear well-made shoes that are made for running and fit you properly. Perform toe pulls before you run by sitting on the floor with one leg stretched out. Wrap a towel around the toes and pull the towel toward you by the ends, so that the foot stretches. Repeat on the other side.


If you get a cramp while you're running, you will almost definitely have to stop for a moment. Reach down and lift the toes upward and toward you with your shoes on. Hold the stretch until the cramp subsides. If this doesn't break the cramp, move to a safe location and remove your shoe and sock and repeat the stretch.


If foot cramps persist or worsen, the cramping may be signaling another problem. Some possibilities are plantar fasciitis or tendinitis, both of which affect the arches of the feet and can cause problems for runners. Do not overstretch your feet if you suspect you have one of these conditions. Visit a podiatrist for a full diagnosis and treatment recommendations before you start running again.

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