Up next in How to Take Care of Your Feet (48 videos)
Learn how to buy shoes that fit, get a safe pedicure, prevent toe problems, and much more from podiatrist John Fritz in these Howcast videos.
Hi. My name is Dr. John Fritz, and today we're going to talk to you a little bit how to prevent and treat cramping of your toes, foot, and calves while you sleep. Sixty percent of all Americans experience a cramp at some point in their lives when they sleep. It's one of the major causes of insomnia. It typically occurs more frequently as we get older and with certain medical conditions. The exact cause of the cramping is unknown, but it's believed to be a chemical imbalance in the muscle itself. There are some common conditions that are associated with night cramps. These include muscle fatigue, improper stretching when you exercise, lack of hydration, improper diet, not getting enough vitamins A, D, and E are all important in preventing muscle fatigue. Some other conditions that can cause cramping in the feet include certain nerve conditions. Impingement of the nerves in your back lower leg or even your foot can result in cramping in the evening. A more serious condition is peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease is poor circulation to your feet. This is a serious condition, and one should seek medical attention immediately. Some certain medical conditions can also result in cramping in the evening. Conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, pregnancy, kidney and liver disease can all cause nocturnal cramps. Certain medications can also cause cramping. Your diuretics used in the treatment of high blood pressure can cause cramping. Cholesterol medications can cause cramping, as well as asthma medications can cause cramping. So what can you do? What are some things you can try at home? I usually recommend an aggressive stretching exercise program. I like Achilles stretches, particularly if you're getting cramps in your Achilles tendon or in your gastroc/soleus complex, the calf behind your leg. Achilles stretching at least three times a day and right before you go to bed and when you get up in the morning may help prevent cramping. Some other things you can try is a little bit of exercise right before you go to bed. A stationary bike or treadmill often can help prevent muscle cramps. Proper hydration, drinking plenty of fluids are as critical to prevent muscle fatigue and stress. Proper diet, including all your vitamins A, E, and D, are also important. Proper shoe gear is important from letting your muscles get overused and stressed. Exercise with proper warm-up and proper stretching is the most important thing in preventing cramping.