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Why do I get foot cramps?

Why do I get foot cramps?

Cramping in the feet and toes is common. Although it can be inconvenient and painful – it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if foot cramps are happening regularly, there might be an underlying cause.

What do foot cramps feel like?

A foot cramp can feel like a tearing sensation along the arch of your foot. Cramps can incorporate the top of the foot too, with pain curling from your ankle to your big toe joint.

During a cramp, your foot may feel ‘locked’ into position. You might also feel a searing or burning sensation. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to around fifteen minutes.

Where can you get foot cramps?

Foot cramps can range from a slight tic to an intense spasm that causes a lot of pain. You might also notice that the muscle in your foot goes very hard and tense or that you can see twitching inside your foot.1

It’s likely that you might get cramps in specific areas, they include:

  • In the whole foot
  • Cramp in the toes
  • Cramp in arch of the foot
  • Cramp on top of the foot
  • Cramp inside of the foot

What causes foot cramps?

There are several reasons why you might be getting foot cramps. We’ve found eight of the most common reasons.

Eight foot cramp causes

  1. Ageing

According to the NHS, your age can be a major contributor to your cramps.2 This is simply because your nerves control your muscles and as you age your nerves wear out.3

  1. Exercise

Certain forms of exercise, such as running, can bring on foot cramps. One reason is that the muscle groups in the feet can experience fatigue and spasming after repeatedly contracting and relaxing during the activity.

Another explanation could be the signal from the brain to the muscle fails temporarily – so the muscle contracts but doesn’t relax – leaving you with cramp.4

  1. Later stages of pregnancy

There is no clear reason why pregnancy can cause leg or foot cramps, but around 30-50% of women can experience cramps in the third trimester. Fortunately, once your baby arrives, they should disappear.5

  1. Medications

Certain medications, such as statins and diuretics (water tablets) have muscle cramping as side-effects.6

  1. Overuse of the feet

if you’ve been driving a lot, or operating a machine with a foot pedal, this can lead to cramps in the feet and toes from repetitive movement.

  1. Not drinking enough fluids

it has been suggested that both dehydration and low levels of electrolytes in the body could contribute to cramp. It is also considered that it may also be down to a lack of magnesium.7

  1. Footwear

If your shoes are too tight, it’s possible that it can cause foot cramps by restricting the natural movement of the foot muscles. Tight footwear also restricts blood circulation to the feet. Shoes (e.g. stilettos) which force the foot into unnatural positions can also lead to foot and toe cramps.8


  1. Too much alcohol

Much like when you exercise, alcohol can build up lactic acid. Usually your liver works to reduce this build-up, however if you’re drinking too much then your liver will struggle to keep up.9