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Foot Cramps While Running

Foot cramps while running are extremely unpredictable and painful. Why do these cramps occur and why especially during exercising, are some things you must be aware of.
FitnessVigil Staff
The foot cramps being referred to here are actually painful and debilitating muscle spasms, which force you to stop your workout midway! Apart from being excruciatingly painful, these cramps are disheartening and instill fear of future recurrences. Why do these cramps occur in the most inappropriate time and how can they be avoided.

Reasons for Foot Cramps while Exercising

#1 Lack of Warming Up
Foot cramps while running occur because of lack of oxygen being supplied to the muscles, which makes them contract more than they need to. The reason why this condition occurs, is because there is insufficient blood circulation taking place. As a result, not enough oxygenated blood reaches the leg and foot muscles. Blood does not get pumped unless the body is made to go through some basic warming up exercises. Ask any exercise enthusiast and they will all agree to this fact. However, what we do not realize is that seasoned athletes do not suffer from this condition, and even if they do, the instances are rare and few. So the question is, how to prevent cramps from occurring again?

Prevention
The reason why athletes do not suffer foot cramps is because they stretch and warm up their muscles before they even think about beginning one of their grueling training sessions. The body needs revving up, so that all the organs, tissues and nerves in the body receive adequate signal that they are about to indulge in some form of physical exercise. Since the body is not as fast as the mind, an effort has to be made by you to help your body get ready. You can do this by doing some breathing exercises, touching your toes a few times, moving your limbs in a circular motion, jogging and jumping on one single spot or on an invisible square on the ground. Do these exercises for 10 - 15 minutes after which you may start running.

#2 Uncomfortable Shoes
What many, often fail to notice is that, your new running shoes may not be adequately comfortable for exercising. The reason being that new shoes, are hard and inflexible. Another reason could be that the shoes are simply too tight and is thus restricting the blood circulation by not letting the feet move inside the shoe.

Prevention
These shoes need to be softened and made more supple, so as to be more comfortable. When you buy a new pair of shoes, you will need to be patient for a few weeks. Try going on walks or to the shopping center wearing your shoes, for the next few weeks. This will help the shoes get used to your feet and vice versa. Also try to loosen the shoelace a bit, while you wear you shoes, so that there is sufficient space for the feet to maneuver. This will ensure that there is ample blood circulation happening as well. Remember not to tie your laces too loose, as that will leave your ankle free for injuries such as sprains.

#3 Impact of Hard Ground
Running on solid ground such as on roads, pavements, cemented surfaces is a very bad idea. It's a simple fact that these surfaces do not absorb the pressure being put on them and instead they revert it all back, to its original source. Which means that when you run on hard grounds, the muscles, the bones and especially the ankle and the knee are absorbing way too much force and pressure than it can handle. This also depends a lot on your total body weight, which if more will add to the impact and cause harm to the lower body.

Prevention
The first solution, would be to run on soft grounds such as on mud tracks or on grass tracks. Soil absorbs most of the impact and helps the feet feel more comfortable and lighter. The long term repercussions of running on hard ground can cause severe damage to the bones and tendons of the legs and feet. So it's best to avoid such dilemmas in later years. Secondly, if you cannot or do not wish to run on soft grounds, you will need to switch to more cushioned shoes. Go in for shock absorbent shoes, which will help mitigate the pressure to an extent.

#4 Wrong Body Posture
Many people run for the mere sake of running and often neglect to notice if their technique is correct or not. An incorrect body posture can cause havoc in your body and perhaps these cramps is your body's way of informing that you are exercising wrongly. Running takes more than simply moving from point X to point Y in a specific time frame. Certain precautions must be taken to ensure that you become fitter through running and not the other way round.

Prevention
The first rule of running is that, you begin running from your heels onto your toe. Just like walking. Some do it incorrectly and begin by running from their toes, which adds all your body weight and the impact of the ground on your front foot. The toes are not as strong as the base and heels of the feet. The toes also have a lot of delicate nerve endings, which get clamped due to the force. These clamped nerves, restrict the circulation of oxygenated blood, which thus results in cramps! Secondly, in order to enjoy some relief, it is important to keep the posture of your upper body in control. You must always keep your spinal column straight while running. When you hunch your body forward, more body weight is applied on the knees and the feet, which may also add to the cramps.

#5 Dehydration
Dehydration occurs because there isn't sufficient water and electrolytes in the body. We may often, not realize that we are getting dehydrated, until certain visible signs begin to appear. For instance, dry mouth, thirst, ache in the shoulders, shortness of breath, foot pain while running and cramps are all signs of dehydration.

Prevention
Drink water at regular intervals, but take in only small sips. You wouldn't want to have a full tummy while you are running. Sipping on energy drinks, which have electrolytes and glucose are good, during long distance running. However it is safer to try to include electrolytes in your daily diet through healthy meals, rather than depending on energy drinks. Electrolytes help prevent cramps, because their basic function is to ensure that electrical signals are transferred through the nerves in the body. If there is proper transmission, there will be proper blood circulation in the body.

Follow these preventive measures, so as to keep foot cramps at bay while running. In case these cramps do not stop even after a month of practicing these steps, you must get yourself checked by a physician. It is also very crucial that, you stop running the moment cramps occur and do not continue with your exercise at that time. The reason being that if you continue to run, you will end up injuring your calf muscles, which are more likely to tear in such a situation.