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They’re intensely painful. So here’s why we get them – and how to make them stop. This comes from physical therapist Pamela Cole.

First, contrary to popular belief, they’re not caused by exercise – but exercise can exacerbate the reason why we get them… Which is nutritional deficiencies. More often that not, they’re caused by an imbalance of water and electrolytes in your body, like potassiumsodiummagnesiumand calcium. When that happens, your muscles can contract on their own.

So here’s how to stop a foot cramp fast:
Pull your toes toward you, using your hands. That stretches the muscles that are cramping and helps them relax. You can also massage the cramping muscle… or try a warm compress on your footBoth pressure and warmth help boost circulation to the area, and that can help restore nutritional balance and stop your nerves from misfiring.

Then, after your cramp stops, physical therapist Cole says: Put two pinches of salt into 12 ounces of water and drink it. That’ll balance your water-electrolyte levels. You can also eat half of a banana, which provides potassium and magnesium.

And to stop foot cramps before they start, make sure you stay hydrated. Also, get more magnesium from foods like bananasdark leafy green veggiesnutsfishbeansavocadosand dark chocolate.

Finally: Give yourself regular foot massages to improve circulation.

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