If you listen to or attend one of my yoga classes, you will discover that I often say "Cramps are Good"
As I instruct you to point your toes, or flex your feet and hold the foot in that position for some time, you may start to feel a cramp coming on.
You immediately want to bring your foot down, away, stand on it, rub it, anything but keep it there.
And you're perfectly right to do that... it you only want your foot to stay the same.
If you want your feet to become more alive, more healthy, have more flexibilty, carry you well into your old age, if you want your circulation to improve, your balance to be stable... then my yoga friend, your cramp is your friend.
Don't pull your foot away. Just watch, breath, notice..it can be quite an extraordinary thing to really pay attention and see what the cramp is really doing in the foot.
The science is (and bear with me I'm no scientist) that cramps occur in the muscles of the feet when there is fatigue in the muscle tissue. That's to say if there is not enough energy to do the work which is being demanded of the muscle.
The Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule is the nucleotide known in biochemistry as the "molecular currency" of intracellular energy transfer; that is, ATP is able to store and transport chemical energy within cells.
Yes I just googled that.
So ATP is the fundamental energy unit of aerobic metabolism in the body. Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration both diminish the efficiency of the ATP energy system in the muscle. So can result in earlier onset of muscle fatigue than might otherwise occur.
BUT before you go drinking pints of water and electrolytes, note that it is the actual demand of the workload being placed on the foot muscle that ultimately leads to cramping.
Put it simply a small workload, no cramps. A big workload - bingo! you've got a cramp. And pointing your tippy toes to the ceiling, when you have your legs supported up a wall well - that's a big workload - Who Knew?
Your feet know. If your feet are cramping it's probably because they have been closeted in socks and shoes for so many years that you've probably not really given them a decent workout in decades...
However it is also the demand of the workload (keep those toes pointed) that stimulates the muscle to become stronger, to develop more capacity, so that in the future, the same workload will not lead to muscle fatigue, or in any case will not lead to muscle fatigue so quickly.
So the more you exercise your foot muscles and put your feet in positions that they do not often do the less likely you will be to experience those AAAAAGH moments of foot cramp.
That is why foot cramps are not a bad thing and why I'll often say they are a good sign when they occur during practice.
If you would like to access some instructional videos about foot yoga you can join Kathy White Yoga as a member here