Arch cramps can be extremely painful, causing a tight, contracted feeling in the foot muscles. The arch area contains many tendons and ligaments that can spasm when overworked. This can cause cramps in your foot.
This article explores the common causes of arch cramps and treatment options to find relief. Learning more about arch cramping can help you get back on your feet pain-free.
What Causes Cramps in the Arch of Your Foot?
There can be several reasons for getting a cramp in the arch of your foot. Overstretching the plantar fascia tissue is a primary cause, as too much tension on this ligament can cause it to spasm painfully. Activities like running, jumping, or walking long distances without proper training can overwork the foot muscles and lead to arch cramping.
Wearing unsupportive shoes without adequate arch support is another common culprit, as this allows the arch to flatten excessively and strain the plantar fascia. Let’s take a look at some of the major causes of arch cramps.
Causes of Arch Cramps
There are several potential causes of arch cramps:
1. Muscle overuse
Using your foot muscles too much can cause them to cramp up. Activities like long walks, running, jumping, or standing for prolonged periods can overwork the foot muscles and lead to arch cramps. The cramping is the muscle’s way of complaining.
2. Foot structure
Having high arches or flat feet can make you prone to arch cramps. The tendons and ligaments have to work harder to stabilize the foot in these cases. Over time, this added strain can cause arch muscle cramps.
Lack of fluids is a common cause of muscle cramps everywhere in the body. When dehydrated, the muscles can spasm and cramp up. Make sure to drink enough water daily to prevent foot arch cramps.
4. Mineral deficiency
Low levels of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium are linked to increased muscle cramping. Lacking in these nutrients seems to irritate the nerves and cause cramps.
5. Plantar fasciitis
This common foot condition inflames the plantar fascia ligament along the bottom of the foot. The inflammation puts extra tension on the foot muscles, sometimes leading to arch cramping.
6. Achilles’ tendinitis
Inflammation of the Achilles tendon can also contribute to arch cramping in some cases. The Achilles runs along the back of the ankle connecting the calf muscles to the heel bone. Irritation of this tendon shifts stress to the foot arches.
Osteoarthritis in the foot joints or rheumatoid arthritis can both potentially cause arch cramping. The inflammation and stiffness from arthritis alters the foot biomechanics, straining the arch muscles.
Can Cramps in The Arch of Your Foot Be a Sign of Something Dangerous?
Cramps in the arch of your foot are usually not a sign of something dangerous, but they can sometimes indicate an underlying medical issue that needs attention.
Foot arch cramps are a common complaint and typically not a cause for concern. They are often caused by muscle fatigue from overuse or exercising in unsupportive footwear.
The pain is usually mild and will go away after rest and stretching. However, persistent or worsening arch pain that affects daily activities may be a symptom of plantar fasciitis, arthritis, a stress fracture, or other problems.
While occasional minor arch cramps are harmless, recurrent or severe pain that causes difficulty walking or standing should not be ignored. Seeking timely medical evaluation is recommended to determine if the cramps are a sign of something more serious like a nerve compression, torn ligament or other injury.
Proper diagnosis and treatment can provide symptom relief and help prevent complications from developing in the foot. Don’t assume that all arch pain is just a simple cramp. Listen to signals from your body.
Treatments for Arch Cramps
If you regularly get cramps in your foot arches, there are some treatment options to find relief:
Gently stretching the plantar fascia and Achilles’ tendon before exercise can help prevent arch cramps. Proper warm-ups reduce the risk of muscle spasms.
Massaging the foot arches helps loosen tight muscles and improve circulation. Have a professional provide deep tissue massage or do self-massage with a tennis ball.
3. Ice compression
Applying ice packs to the arches during a cramp can alleviate pain and muscle spasms. Ice reduces inflammation that contributes to cramps.
4. Keep yourself hydrated
Staying properly hydrated is key to preventing muscle cramps everywhere in the body. Make a conscious effort to drink enough fluids daily.
Taking magnesium, potassium, or calcium supplements can help offset deficiencies causing cramps. Consult your doctor before starting any new supplement.
Custom orthotics provide extra arch support which helps take strain off the muscles. Orthotics help improve foot biomechanics.
7. Night splints
Wearing night splints gently stretches the plantar fascia and Achilles’ tendon overnight. This can reduce arch cramping during the day. Check out some great night splints from ProPlantar here.
8. Stretching exercises
Specific stretches that target the plantar fascia, Achilles’ tendon, and calf muscles can aid in preventing arch cramps. A physical therapist can recommend proper stretching techniques.
9. Pain medication
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen can relieve arch cramp pain. Pain meds are just temporary relief though.
10. Take rest
Taking a break from activities that overwork the foot is wise if you are prone to arch cramps. Giving your feet a rest allows the muscles time to recover.
When to See a doctor?
You should consult a podiatrist or orthopedist if arch cramps persist despite self-care and become chronic. A doctor can diagnose any underlying condition causing the cramps and provide customized treatment.
Severe or recurring arch cramps may require physical therapy, orthotics, or possibly surgery in some cases. Don’t ignore painful arch cramps that disrupt your daily activities. Seek professional medical advice to get relief.
Can You Prevent Cramps in The Arch of Your Foot from Happening?
Here are some tips for preventing cramps in the arch of your foot:
1. Get high quality footwear
Wearing proper supportive shoes is key. Look for shoes with adequate arch support and cushioning. Replace athletic shoes regularly as the support wears down over time. Avoid flat shoes like flip flops that don’t support the arches. Orthotics or arch supports can provide additional relief if needed.
2. Improve Your Diet
Nutrition plays a role in cramp prevention. Getting sufficient magnesium, potassium and calcium in your diet or through supplements assists with muscle contraction and nerve function. Lack of these nutrients is linked with muscle cramps.
3. Don’t overwork your feet
Be mindful of activities that overwork the feet. Avoid going barefoot on hard surfaces. Reduce high impact activities if you’re prone to arch pain and cramps. Low impact cardio like swimming is gentler on feet. Apply ice after activity to reduce inflammation.
4. Get preexisting conditions treated as soon as possible
Treat conditions like plantar fasciitis that strain the arches. Lose excess weight to reduce pressure on feet. Consider custom orthotics if you have high arches. Let pain be your guide and rest feet when arches cramp up to allow recovery.
5. Replace shoes regularly
Athletic shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles or about every 6 months if you are a runner. The cushioning and arch support starts to break down over time and use, so old worn-out shoes can’t adequately support your arches.
6. Avoid going barefoot
Going barefoot, especially for long periods on hard surfaces like concrete or wood floors, can strain the arch muscles that aren’t designed to directly absorb impact. Wear shoes with arch support even when indoors to protect your feet.
7. Lose weight if overweight
Carrying excess weight adds more pressure on the arches with every step. Just a 10-pound weight loss can reduce the force on your feet by up to 50 pounds with each step! Losing weight relieves strain.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get rid of a cramp in the arch of your foot?
You can get rid of an arch cramp by stretching and massaging the foot, applying heat or ice, using an arch support, and resting the foot as much as possible until the cramp passes. Gentle stretching and massage will relieve tension while heat and ice will soothe pain.
What does a cramp in the arch of your foot mean?
An arch cramp usually means the plantar fascia is inflamed and overworked from activities like running long distances. It can also signal deficiencies in minerals like potassium and magnesium that are needed for proper muscle contraction and relaxation.
What deficiency causes foot cramps?
Magnesium and potassium deficiency are common causes of foot cramps as they are minerals that support muscle and nerve function. Dehydration can also cause an electrolyte imbalance that triggers foot cramps.
What vitamin is good for foot cramps?
Supplements with vitamin B complex, especially B1, B5, and B6, can help foot cramps by supporting nerve function. Vitamin D improves calcium absorption for muscle contraction while vitamin E has antioxidant properties to relieve cramps.
Can flat feet cause arch cramps?
Yes, having flat feet or fallen arches increases strain on the foot muscles, making arch cramping more likely. Arch supports can help reduce cramps in flat feet.
Is walking good for arch cramps?
Gentle walking can help stretch and strengthen the foot muscles when done in moderation. But overdoing it can exacerbate arch cramps, so walk lightly if you are prone to cramps.
If you feel cramps in the arch of your foot then it is best to be quick in trying to resolve the issue. Your doctor will be able to identify the cause and provide an effective solution. Keeping it untreated may worsen the issue.