How Do I Treat Ankle Cramps? (with pictures)

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.
Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.

Ankle cramps are actually usually caused by the muscles in the calves and the feet rather than the tissues around the ankle joint itself, so treatment of this condition usually focuses on the feet and legs. Part of the treatment involves determining what is causing the ankle cramps to begin with and focusing on preventing this cause in the future. Dehydration and lack of adequate conditioning are the two primary causes of these types of cramps, though other injuries to the tissue in and around the ankle can lead to a cramping sensation.

Ankle cramps are usually caused by the calf or foot muscles.
Ankle cramps are usually caused by the calf or foot muscles.

Most importantly, if the cramping occurs regularly regardless of your treatments for the cramps, or if the cramps worsen over time, it is a good idea to see a doctor, as a more significant problem may be occurring. Many of the treatments you will try at home should be sufficient, however. The best way to treat ankle cramps is to strengthen the muscles of the calves and the feet with regular stretching and exercise. Strong muscles are less prone to injury, and regular stretching can help improve mobility that will help reduce or eliminate the occurrences of cramps. Throughout all exercises, it is important to stay well hydrated, as dehydration can lead to cramping and other damage to muscle tissue.

Sometimes more serious injuries can mimic the feel of ankle cramps.
Sometimes more serious injuries can mimic the feel of ankle cramps.

When ankle cramps occur, it is best to stop whatever physical activity you are doing to help prevent more injury to the area. Take weight off the ankle, and if possible, raise the ankle to help improve blood flow. Severe cramps will usually require the RICE treatment: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. The cramp will generally subside after a few seconds or minutes of rest, and once it does, it is best to allow the ankle plenty of rest to prevent further cramping and injury to the ankle.

The best way to treat ankle cramps is to strengthen the calves and the feet with regular stretching and exercise.
The best way to treat ankle cramps is to strengthen the calves and the feet with regular stretching and exercise.

Sometimes more serious injuries can mimic the feel of ankle cramps. If the pain persists or worsens, you may be experiencing a sprained ligament, a strained muscle, a fracture, or even tendinitis. Tendinitis occurs when the tissues that connect muscles to bone become inflamed, leading to pain and reduced mobility. Treating tendinitis usually involves the RICE treatment, though serious or recurring instances of it may require the use of anti-inflammatory medications or, in rare instances, surgery. Ankle sprains can be quite painful, and immobilization of the ankle joint will be necessary. Anti-inflammatory medications are also likely to be prescribed.

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Discussion Comments

anon998864

See a doctor. It could be something with your nerves and/or tendons. I'm not a professional though.

anon331352

I woke up yesterday and I can't lift my foot. There's no pain or discomfort. It simply will not budge. Almost feels like whatever muscles or ligaments used to move my foot have vanished. Any thoughts?

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    • Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.
      Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.
    • Ankle cramps are usually caused by the calf or foot muscles.
      Ankle cramps are usually caused by the calf or foot muscles.
    • Sometimes more serious injuries can mimic the feel of ankle cramps.
      Sometimes more serious injuries can mimic the feel of ankle cramps.
    • The best way to treat ankle cramps is to strengthen the calves and the feet with regular stretching and exercise.
      The best way to treat ankle cramps is to strengthen the calves and the feet with regular stretching and exercise.
    • People who roll their ankle too far out while walking have a tendency sprain their ankles frequently.
      People who roll their ankle too far out while walking have a tendency sprain their ankles frequently.
    • Elevating the ankles can help with cramping.
      Elevating the ankles can help with cramping.
    • If a runner or other athlete gets ankle cramps, they are recommended to stop the activity promptly.
      If a runner or other athlete gets ankle cramps, they are recommended to stop the activity promptly.