Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What to do if you get a foot cramp.

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Believe it or not, Lily, my 12 year old, did join us for the trip to our water aerobics class last night.  And then, once in the confines of the dressing room, her face reddened and her voice nervously uttered, "I don't want to do it, Mama."  I had a moment of wanting to tell her, "Well, you agreed to come, so you better get in the water.  Plus, I paid for you already!"  Then I recalled it was only $3.50 and that if she didn't get in the water, we could maybe get some good photos.  No, really, I just decided not to push it.  She seemed really adamant about not joining the class.

It was probably my worst class yet.  My foot started cramping up after only 10 minutes in the water, and it didn't help that I had gorged on tortilla ships only a hour or so before class.  By the end of the 45 minutes workout (if you can call it that) I could no nothing besides hold onto my right foot and massage it, thankful for the floatation belt I had around my waist.  Then, when I tried to climb up the ladder to get out, both of my feet seized into a painful cramp, and I nearly panicked.

Somehow I made it down the length of the pool, holding onto the edge with one hand and massaging my foot with the other.  The fear that you will not be able to manage relieving the cramp is overwhelming.  The possibility of the muscles tightening beyond your control is truly something that can only be experienced and not explained.  I wish it on no one.

But, if you are to get a foot cramp, here are some tips from myself and the internet on what to do.  Most of them are intuitive, but in the panic of the moment, intuition can be hard to find.
  1. Take the cramped foot in your hands. Slowly, but firmly, move it in the opposite direction of the cramped position.
  2. Keep the foot in this position until the cramp disappears.
  3. Gently massage it for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Take a pain reliever, if desired and repeat the dose after 4 hours.
  5. Drink lots of water, and add in some electrolytes.  I use NUUN tablets.  Some people swear by eating a banana, because of the high potassium level.
  6. Elevate your foot on a pillow to the level of your waist.  Or, if you're in the pool, with a floatation belt, keep your leg up as you tilt your body backwards.
  7. Apply an ice pack. Place the ice pack around the cramp, not directly on it.
  8. Use moist heat on the cramping muscle 3 times a day if cramping is chronic and persists longer than 24 hours. A warm foot soak may be beneficial.
  9. Consider wrapping the foot with an elasticized cloth bandage or sports wrap. Be careful when wrapping under the arch--too much pressure against it can cause pain.
  10. Rest and stay off your foot. Give the muscle, tendon or nerve mass time to heal.

Armed with "what to do if you get a foot cramp", I am going to go back today.  A little apprehensive and missing my other class a lot.  The other pool has more light.  And more smiling, old people.  I can't wait until Green Lake's pool re-opens next week!



sophanne said...

The girl who flies fearlessly on the trapeze reluctant to,water aerobics. Does this match her astrological sign?

Melissa Baumgart said...

I know! I think it was less the fear of the activity and more the huge age difference. :)