Bottom Line/HEALTH:Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night with a searing cramp or pain in your foot? Well, let’s get that stopped.

Today we’re talking to Dr. Johanna Youner, a leading podiatrist and foot surgeon in private practice in New York, and a frequent contributor to Bottom Line Publications.

I have to say, it was amazing. When we have done stories on foot cramps and foot pain, the amount of feedback and response that we get was shocking to me. So, why so much response on that?

Dr. Johanna Youner:Foot cramps are incredibly common, and they affect people from so many bodily systems. It can be from medication you’re taking…it can be from being dehydrated…it can be from being athletic…it can be from overuse. So many systems, all with this one problem that is sometimes easily resolved.
Bottom Line: So there you are—in the middle of a cramp. Now what do you do?
Dr. Youner:It is time to massage your foot. First, most of the cramps that I see come in the arch area or under the toes. Just gently press into the arch. Gently. You want to release the cramp. Press and release. Then you can also bend your toes just a little bit, to stretch those flexor tendons down here. You can also stretch forward to stretch the extensor tendons on top. You can twist the foot gently. You just want to release the cramp…you don’t want to give yourself a full massage.
Bottom Line: Is there anything that I can take systemically, internally, to kind of relax my muscles at all?
Dr. Youner: They have found that some natural remedies, like pickles, mustard seed, and apple cider vinegar work toward helping cramps. And it really works.
Bottom Line:They’re in the middle of the night, their foot’s cramping—massage and run to the refrigerator.
Dr. Youner:Run to the refrigerator, have a piece of turkey with mustard on it. Or some tonic water with quinine in it, which would help. But the body does get resistant to some of the treatments. Quinine water is another helpful hint, but you may be used to that. So switch it up a bit—have a pickle.
Bottom Line:And how about magnesium?
Dr. Youner:Magnesium will help if you have any sort of abnormality in your system. Say you’re dehydrated, your sodium is off, your potassium is off. Magnesium and calcium supplements can help with that. Make sure you have adequate potassium if your sodium is off because of blood pressure medication or any other factor.
Bottom Line: What can people do to prevent?
Dr. Youner:To prevent cramps, I would take a magnesium-calcium supplement on a regular basis. Have some tonic water on a daily basis if you don’t mind the taste. And add, as a regular, a bit of pickle, mustard, apple cider vinegar. Any of these acetic acid-containing compounds will help. And hydrate. Always hydrate.
Bottom Line:All right, well, thank you, Dr. Youner. The bottom line on foot cramps? If you wake in the middle of the night with a foot cramp, massage it for a couple minutes—that should ease it out. Beyond that, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. The number-one reason that you’re getting that cramp is because you might be dehydrated. Other than that, take some calcium-magnesium…eat some pickles and mustard. This is Sarah Hiner with Bottom Line Publications.