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Q. I sometimes suffer from foot cramps while snowboarding. I feel like my feet are working too hard.
It is painful and annoying and it "cramps" my style.
Lauren
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

A. I used to suffer from those on a regular basis.  And I mean SUFFER! I've bitten through necklaces from the pain of stretching these our after an intense modern dance class.  Generally, although not always, the cramp throughout the base of the foot is caused by weak arches; when the muscles in the arch of the foot aren't conditioned well enough to shift your balance properly - thus they overwork to maintain balance and cramp.  For someone who could break through toe shoes in under  3 weeks, being told I had weak arches did not impress me!  I suffered quietly for years and no one could understand how I could have such strong feet on pointe but such pain in flat foot balances or long bare-foot floor exercises until an instructor in university told me what she believed was the problem (darn arches) and a solution:  Toe Curls.

And, toe curls really helped - seriously, just curl your toes in as tight as you can, then flex and spread them - aim for anywhere between 50-100 reps a night.  And you can do this just lying in bed (which was usually where I was when I remembered I hadn't completed my daily dose yet!).  The cramps ease and disappear as the muscles strengthen.  Granted, in the beginning, there is a great deal of teeth-grinding accompanying these reps but it works - and fairly quickly!  If you want to condition your lower legs at the same time (especially if you're prone to shin splints - the bane of my existence), lie on your back with your feet in the air (comfortably, with knees bent) and repeat the toe curls accompanied by ankle rotations or a basic flex/point motion with the foot.  Or alternate between the 2 until you feel the "shin-burn".

Probably not new info for you but I wanted to pass on my experience, just in case....

Christine J.
 

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