What Is the Treatment for Foot Cramps?

Dan Cavallari

Foot cramps can put a damper on a workout routine, and they can be painful even when sitting. Cramps are often due to overuse of the muscles, dehydration, a lack of potassium, or even incorrect use of the muscles, so in some cases, it will be necessary to find out the root cause of the cramps before they can be effectively treated. In many cases, the RICE treatment can be used to treat the cramps; RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Modification of the behaviors that cause the pain can also be part of the treatment.

Stretching before and after exercise can help prevent cramps.
Stretching before and after exercise can help prevent cramps.

The immediate reaction most people have when experiencing foot cramps is to massage the foot. This is one treatment, but it must be done properly to avoid further injuring the muscles. The person suffering from the cramp should stop doing whatever activity he or she was participating in and allow the foot to rest. Drinking plenty of water is a good idea at all times during physical activity, but it is especially important after any cramp or muscle spasm occurs.

Wearing padded socks may help prevent foot cramping.
Wearing padded socks may help prevent foot cramping.

Stretching before and after exercise can help a person avoid injuries or other muscle problems. Sometimes, cramps are due to poor muscle conditioning, and the stronger the muscles become, the less likely they will be to spasm during physical activity. The muscles should be stretched daily for optimal health and flexibility, though at the very least, they should be stretched immediately before and after physical activity.

Icing the foot may help to relieve foot cramps.
Icing the foot may help to relieve foot cramps.

Another common problem that can lead to foot cramps is the use of improper or worn out footwear. The shoes a person wears during physical activity must be supportive, especially in the arch of the foot, to prevent the foot from moving in ways it should not. If the cramps are due to worn out footwear, the person should replace those shoes, or at the very least, replace the in-soles to ensure more support during physical activity. He or she should make sure the shoes fit properly as well, as ones that are too tight or too loose can lead to a number of foot problems. Wearing adequately padded socks can also help absorb some of the shock and strain that can lead to foot pain.

Shoe insoles can help minimize the incidence of foot cramps.
Shoe insoles can help minimize the incidence of foot cramps.
Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.
Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.
A person getting a foot massage to help with cramps.
A person getting a foot massage to help with cramps.
Foot cramps could point to a potassium deficiency, in which case potassium-rich foods like bananas might help.
Foot cramps could point to a potassium deficiency, in which case potassium-rich foods like bananas might help.

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Discussion Comments


My husband started experiencing foot cramps after getting a new job at a warehouse with a concrete floor. He had to walk from shelf to shelf all day long, loading boxes onto a lift. His shoes weren't the greatest, so his feet were absorbing most of the shock from the hard floor.

He got some padded insoles for his shoes, and they worked. He stopped having the cramps, and he felt much more comfortable every day at work.

Sometimes, the best foot cramps treatment is prevention. If you properly equip your feet to handle whatever you will be putting them through, then you should be able to avoid ever getting cramps.


@DylanB – Tell your sister to start eating a banana every day. Bananas have potassium in them, and they really do stave off cramps.

I was having horrible leg cramps during the night that would wake me up, and I started having foot cramps in the middle of the day. After I started eating a banana at breakfast every day, the cramps stopped. I haven't had one since.

If she doesn't like bananas, she can also try pineapple. I hear that potatoes are high in potassium, as well, and sweet potatoes are about the most nutrient-packed food you can eat.


My sister gets terrible foot cramps for seemingly no reason at all. They strike her when she least expects it, and they are so severe that they make her cry.

She soaks her feet in hot water, and this relaxes the muscles. However, even that takes awhile to work, so she just has to suffer until it does.

Does anyone know what might be causing these random foot cramps? I hate seeing her in pain and being unable to help her.


@ZipLine – Flats can cause foot cramps even in people with high arches. I have a naturally high foot arch, and I have discovered that I get worse foot cramps when I wear flats than when I wear heels or any other type of shoe.

I never knew how important shoes with arch support were until I started having these awful cramps. I would get them after I had been sitting down for a couple of hours and I suddenly stood up to walk. I could barely take a step without debilitating pain.

In this case, the foot cramps remedy was simple. I just had to switch to more supportive shoes.


@donasmrs-- Don't underestimate what shoes can do to your feet, whether it's heels or flats.

Flats can absolutely cause foot cramps. Anything that doesn't keep your feet in its natural shape can do that, especially if you already have problems with your feet.

I, for example, cannot wear anything too flat because I already suffer from flat feet (my feet basically don't have arches). So if I wear flats for several hours, I get foot cramps and I strain my ankles because all the pressure is placed there.


Can flats cause foot cramps too?

I know that wearing high heels causes foot cramps because the feet are just not supposed to be in that shape. I haven't worn high heels in a long while. I wear flats to work because I have to stand a lot and flats are the most comfortable.

But for the past two weeks, I've been getting more and more foot and leg cramps at work. If it happens at home, it's not that big of a deal. I will soak my feet in some hot water or something and it will go away.

When it happens at work, it's very painful and uncomfortable and I really can't do anything at that time to make it go away. So I'm basically standing there and trying to bear the pain.

What am I doing wrong? How can I get rid of these cramps? Please help!


@anon262748-- Does it only happen at night?

Foot cramps at night is a sign of a vitamin deficiency. Take a multivitamin daily that has all the essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, iron and so forth. See if the cramps go away in a few days.

If it doesn't go away, then it might be because of your physical activity during the day or another underlying condition.


I have cramps in both feet every night and can't seem to understand why.

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