Foot cramps begin suddenly and are painful. They can be caused by your diet, circulatory problems, sensitivity to chemicals or substances in the environment, or even the use of alcohol or tobacco. You can usually relieve the pain by extending your foot away from the cramped position and gently massaging it until the spasm has passed. If you experience chronic and long lasting foot cramps you should consult your physician.
Diet and Nutrition
A nutritional deficiency, such as potassium or sodium, can result in frequent foot cramps, according to FootCare Central. Dehydration can also cause foot cramps. Both potassium and sodium help to maintain water balance and the appropriate acid base in your tissues. Dehydration is the result of losses of potassium and sodium. When the levels are low the muscles contract and cause pain.
FootCare Central indicates that poor circulation means that there is a lack of oxygen going to your feet and this can cause cramping. Poor circulation can be the result of serious conditions such as peripheral vascular disease or atherosclerosis. If your foot is not receiving adequate oxygen the muscles become painful because of the accumulation of lactic acid, which is not being moved through the blood flow.
Sensitivity to Chemicals or Substances
Sensitivity to certain chemicals, or medications, can cause foot cramps. Contaminations in the environment, such as water contaminated by factories, can also be responsible for foot cramps. Certain medications such as diuretics result in too much loss of potassium, calcium and magnesium. According to MedicineNet, low levels of these minerals can increase the "excitability" of nerve endings in your muscles. Chemicals can cause a reaction very much like an allergy and symptoms include muscle pain.
Alcohol and Tobacco
The use of alcohol and tobacco can contribute to dehydration, toxicity and poor circulation, according to FootCare Central. As a result, consumption of alcohol and the use of tobacco can increase the incidence of foot cramps.
Fatigue and Injury
Foot cramps can result from fatigue or stress on your feet. Vigorous activity may cause cramping due to overuse of the muscles and can occur during the activity, or later during rest. Injury to the muscles may cause spasms which are an involuntary protective measure.