Why does my foot cramp during Yoga?

Does this sound familiar.., you started a yoga class hoping to improve flexibility, strengthen your core, and get a little ‘me time’ in your life. You’re enjoying the exertion, the breathing, when all of a sudden…cramp! Right in the middle of a pose, and often the same pose each time, your foot cramps up, causing you to have to move quickly out of position.

From a physio’s point of view this can happen for several reasons, most likely:

1/ Tight posterior chain (that’s hamstring, calf and plantar fascia).

2/ Weak/overused tibialis anterior (that’s at the front of your shin where people experience shin splints).

3/ Over tightening feet and toes in particular in previous poses before your cramp occurs.

4/ Simple dehydration, imbalance of electrolytes in your system.

How to identify the cause of your foot cramp?

1/ Assess how tight your calf is with this simple CALF & ANKLE Assessment Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsTyBVzqPwI&feature=youtu.be

If tight stretch out your calves twice a day, 12 hours apart. See CALF STRETCHES for more info.

2/ Remind yourself to relax your toes during every Yoga pose.

3/ If you have had an active day leading up to your class in the evening or your class is first thing in the morning dehydration can be a huge culprit. Get those fluids into you throughout the day or at least an hour prior to class. Have a bottle of water beside you on the mat. You may need to think about adding a mineral complex to your water if you don’t get relief from just water. Speak to your Pharmacist about this.

Persistant cramps despite intervening with stretches and fluid may be due to an underlying nerve or circulatory issue, so if in doubt go visit your Chartered Physiotherapist or Sports Doctor to have a thorough assessment. Don’t put up with it.

Also, check to see if any medications you are taking might reduce your levels of potassium, calcium and magnesium. If you take diuretics or water pills, or are on medications such as Prednisone, you may want to talk to your doctor about the issue.

Orla Crosse

Chartered Physiotherapist