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Owwww....calf and top-of-foot cramps...deficiency of some kind??

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Ok, this is just...weird.  I've been working out on and off for YEARS and never had this happen.  The past couple of weeks I have started to get painful "charlie-horse" type cramps on the TOPS of my feet (my toes get all crooked when it happens) and in my calves during/after workouts, and then last night it woke me up too.  I think it MUST be a vitamin deficiency or something since I haven't changed my fitness routine's activities and always drink a ton of water. 

I did recently begin here on CC 3 months ago and began strictly counting my calories to acheive a 400-700 deficit daily.  Maybe there's a nutrient I'm low on that's causing the cramps?  I eat balanced meals, so I don't understand why this is suddenly happening.  I get plenty of potassium and calcium (I take a supplement for the calcium just in case my lowfat dairy doesn't get me there).  I don't take a multivitamin...guess that's the next "fix" attempt.  Any ideas about why this is happening would be appreciated!!!

[FYI Stats: F, 129 yrs, 5'6", 127lbs]

15 Replies (last)

It's most likely still a potassium deficiency. Make sure you're eating enough of things with lots of potassium, like bananas, sweet potatoes, lima beans, etc and it should help a lot. I know I can always tell when I'm potassium deficient because I get incredibly painful charlie-horses in my sleep.

Try eating a banana a day.  Cramps, in my case at least, are due to a lack of potassium.

It could also be an infection of your muscles. I've been working out steadily for over 6 months, and two days ago, my achilles heel cramped (I didn't know this could happen!)

Went to the dr's because it didn't go away, and she said its just from running/ellipticaling so much. It was a mechanical cramp - sometimes the muscles are overworked and develop an infection apparently. Stop working out for a few days if the problem persists. There are many antibacterial creams for this purpose - ask your pharmacist.

There are a few that can cause this:

Calcium, Manganese, Magnesium, and Potassium are all potential culprits. 

Ugh, muscle infection??  Would an external cream be absorbed deeply enough to help that if it were the case?  I do run/eliptical every day...maybe a couple of days off would help me to heal. 

I eat four to five bananas every week, use Morton salt substitute (610mg potassium per 1/4 tsp), eat Kashi and South Beach products that are high in potassium, and I keep my sodium intake well below RDA...what else can I do to increase potassium?  What foods are high in Manganese and/or Magnesium?  I really don't like taking pills...

Thanks guys!!

I don't know if this is the same thing. But I"ve noticed that when I do the runner the pads of my feet seem to go numb like after about a half hour. By an hour it is uncomfortable. THing is it doesn't happen when I walk or run. weird huh?

Salt substitutes are straight potassium.  You could add 1/4 tsp to your food to get extra.

I've heard that magnesium deficiency can do the same thing, but don't have any other information.

These cramps are the worst! I've gotten them since I started running in middle school and they crop up every now and then. I've actually been known to wake up screaming because of them. (which my bf loves.. Laughing)

There are several ways to help with cramps in the calves and feet. First, nutritional causes can include a potassium deficiency, a calcium deficiency or dehydration. You can also try to take a warm bath or shower before heading to bed to try to relax your muscles so they are less likely to cramp. Stretching can also help prevent, as well as alleviate, the cramps. (I usually can't do the stretching or rubbing during the cramp myself because it's so painful. I try to find a willing volunteer... aka my bf... to help me here.)

Try googling the problem and also check out leg cramps on the symptom checker of WebMD. There are a bunch of websites which provide good information on possible causes and ways to prevent as well as alleviate the pain.

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I'm not sure exactly what electrolytes are, but I started having the exact same problem a couple years ago and have had it on and off since then. When they started getting so frequent and painful I couldn't stand it anymore, I tried googling it, and one thing that came up as a possibility was an electrolyte imbalance. If I drink pedialyte when it starts happening, it usually stops for awhile. Now I've discovered Gatorade G2, and I'm going to try that b/c I'm sure it tastes better.

Here is a website with information on shin splints, that you might find helpful. www.nlm.nih.gov, also www.runnersworld.com which has a nifty little test to see what type of arch you have, and what type of shoe you should be wearing.

All my soccer trainers would tell me to increase my potassium, calcuim and water so help with the pain, and to bulild up the muscle on the front of the legs by just tapping my foot about 100-150 times a day. It helps.

If you look at the ingrediants for most performance drinks you'll  see that it does have a fair amount of sodium in it. So, if you do work out alot, then you'll need to replace the sodium your body has sweated out. That's what the Na and Cl are on the gatorade bottle lable. I haven't seen this in any of the other posts, but what is your cool down routine? You may have to have a longer warm up and cool down to help with the cramps.

Thanks for all the advice!  These cramps are new (fortunately) for me and I'm hoping that they won't become the pattern if I can short circuit the causes now...  I have been able to "massage/stretch" them out so far, but yesterday was by far the worst...it took 15 minutes in pain on the floor of the gym (just a tinsy bit embarrassing) with my shoe and sock off pulling my toes up and pretending to be fascinated by the gym TV (I couldn't even tell you what show was on)...

I never drink Gatorade, believing what I've read about it being unneccessary sugar and salt for all but the competetive athlete or marathon runner...my workouts don't last more than an hour and a half TOPS.  I'm trying to DECREASE my sodium intake and increase potassium...I used to have way too much salt in my diet.

 I "warm up" for 5 minutes by marching in place with "running arms" or similar calisthenics at a low intensity just to increase my heart rate...I guess I don't cool down unless you count lowering the resistance on the eliptical and slowing it down for 3-5 minutes.  It has always "felt" like enough.

Can bad shoes cause foot cramps??  My sneakers are at least a year old now...maybe I need a new pair? 

I'm afraid to flex my toes today...thinking about skipping the eliptical and doing some swimming instead for my calorie burn...will swimming cause calf/foot cramps?

OOOH, BUY NEW SHOES!! The padding and support can break down and condense after 6 months, or roughly 300-500 miles of use. I took a running class in college, and everyone came in with new shoes after this lecture. There was one guy who had been using the same shoes for 5 years!! If you are not hot on gatorade, then try propel or another drink that has less sugar.

I always get toe cramps while swimming. It has to do with how you flex and hold your foot while swimming, or something like that. You'll still have to do a warm up/cool down for swimming too. Try some yoga like stretches for your cool down.

Swimming on Friday was OK, but still got cramps after about 30 minutes.  This week I've been fine though...no cramps yet (I did use the eliptical while wearing flip flops though...probably not the best solution).

That's it, I'm asking for sneakers for my birthday...  ;)

Original Post by alicat29:

[FYI Stats: F, 129 yrs, 5'6", 127lbs]

Maybe it's because you're 129 years old? Teehee ;D just kidding. I get really awful charlie horses if I don't really stretch out properly or if I miss a few days of yoga. Also, ellipticals kill the top of my feet :(.

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