There are few things worse than being in the middle of a run, whether it’s long or short distance, and having your foot cramp up. This often requires that you stop and maybe even remove your shoe to provide relief to your sore muscles.
If you had a high level of motivation or were in the middle of a really great, efficient run, needing to stop can derail these sensations and throw you mentally and physically off track. Runners who are preparing for a 5K, half-marathon, marathon, or triathlon may be worried that constant foot cramps will prohibit them from sticking to their training schedule or from being successful in crossing the finish line in the time they were working toward.
There are plenty of reasons why foot cramps occur, including chronic conditions like plantar fasciitis, shoes that are worn out or too tight, dehydration or pointing your toes too much.
Here are some methods for keeping your feet from cramping up:
Massage: A great way to both alleviate and prevent foot cramps is through self massage. Using a portable massager like the Moji Foot Roller, you can soothe and loosen tight muscles in your arches as well as release any knots that may have formed during your runs. It might also be helpful to massage your calves as well, especially if you have plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis, which can contribute to foot pain and cramping.
Drink up: Dehydration can cause muscles to cramp up because they are not getting the nutrients and water they need to function properly. Before and during your run, make sure you drink plenty of fluids (water for shorter runs or sports drinks for longer ones to replenish electrolytes) to ensure that your muscles can work properly to propel you forward throughout the day’s session. Additionally, if you think you’re lacking in electrolytes, snack on a banana, spinach salad or some almonds to replenish your magnesium, potassium and calcium levels.
Stretch: Tight muscles also contribute to a higher risk of experiencing foot cramps, so be sure to spend some time during your cool down stretching. To stretch the arches of your feet, you can cross one foot over your knee, lace your fingers through your toes and pull your toes toward your calf. You can also stretch your calf muscles by standing with one heel hanging off of a step and dropping that heel until you feel a sensation in the back of your lower leg.