So, you started attending a yoga class hoping to get tighter abs and a higher butt, but you mainly wanted a way to relax and manage daily stress. You're enjoying the controlled breathing, the quietness and the stretching, when all of a sudden...wham! Right in the middle of a pose, your foot cramps up, causing excruiating pain. There may be several reasons why these cramps happen, but according to Mayoclinic.com, in most cases, they are harmless. Regardless, there are things you can do to minimize the cramps so you don’t have to give up yoga’s sweet respite altogether.
Try a Variation
Try tucking those piggies under to open and lengthen the plantar muscles on the soles of the feet as a variation from the usual stance. For some poses, such as the pigeon pose, pressure is placed on the tops of the ankles, which causes cramping in the feet. So, tucking the toes often helps relieve this.
Place a thin pillow or a small, rolled up towel between your ankles and the yoga mat to make your toes less pointed. This is particularly helpful for some of the more common poses, such as child pose or Zen pose,
Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Cut down on the amount of time that you hold your postures -- especially the standing ones. If you are a gal who has flat feet, focus on lifting the arches during yoga by engaging the muscles in your feet and legs; try grinding through the ball of the big toe, the heel, and the outer edge of the foot.
Avoid certain postures altogether if you notice that they frequently cause you pain.
Ease Cramps through Prevention
Drink up! Those spasms could develop because you are not making enough stops at the water cooler. Drink lots of liquid throughout the day before your class. Bring a water bottle to class to further prevent dehydration and the resulting spasms.
Make sure you are getting enough potassium, calcium or magnesium. Too little of these minerals can lead to cramps. Think about incorporating bananas, cantaloupes and avocados into your diet and drinking milk regularly.
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 cutting back or finding an alternative.
- Do stretches and strengthening exercises, such as calf stretches, heel raises, towel pulls or picking up pencils with your toes, two or three times each day. It may seem silly to do stretching exercises before you go to a class involving lots of stretching, but really, isn’t the extra effort worth it to prevent these painful disruptions during an otherwise relaxing and rewarding part of your day?
- If you find that you still experience cramps often, girlfriend, go visit the doctor on your lunch break! Sometimes cramps are related to an underlying medical condition. You might have a kidney, thyroid or hormone disorder; diabetes; anemia; or a nerve compression elsewhere in the body.
Mary Werner has more than 15 years of corporate communications experience. She also writes about health and fitness for a variety of websites. Werner earned an M.B.A. from the Acton School of Business in Austin, Texas, and a B.A. in clinical psychology from Smith College in Northampton, Mass.