Toe cramps occur if any muscle in the toes abruptly contracts and does not relaxes. Most have experienced a few episodes of cramping in their lifetime. Nevertheless, some are susceptible to cramping than others.
Most cases can be managed with home remedies. In some cases where the cramps do not settle or seem to worsen, a doctor must be consulted.
What are the usual causes?
- Physical activity – dehydration and overexertion are the usual causes of cramping during exercise
- Age – as one gets older, there is loss of muscle mass. Upon reaching the early 40s, the muscles are stressed easily which results to cramping especially if not active.
- Health conditions – toe cramps are likely to occur among those with liver disease or diabetes
- Medications – certain drugs can contribute to muscle cramping such as cholesterol-lowering drugs such as nicotinic acid and statins as well as diuretics.
- Mineral deficiency – lack of potassium, sodium, magnesium or calcium can trigger cramping
Management of toe cramps
There are several measures that can be used to alleviate toe cramps.
Oftentimes, regular stretching and strengthening exercises can help avoid toe cramps. Some of the suggested exercises that can keep the feet flexible include:
- Toe raise
- Toe point or flex
- Marble pickup
- Sand walking
Application of heat or ice
Heat works by relaxing tight muscles. Simply place a heating pad or warm towel on the affected toe. An alternative is to soak the foot in warm water.
An ice pack can provide pain relief. Gently massage the affected toe using an ice pack. Do not apply the ice pack directly on the skin.
Increased sweating causes the body to release salt and minerals especially potassium, calcium and magnesium. If the suggested daily intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium could not be reached, certain foods can provide a boost.
The type of shoes worn can lead to toe cramps. Wearing high heels whole day increases the risk for cramping. These shoes can crush the toes and place pressure on the ball of the foot.
It is best to opt for shoes built with a wide toe box. Avoid shoes with heels if they trigger discomfort.