Toe Cramps : The Whys and Hows

(Photo Credit : Popsci)
(Photo Credit : Popsci)
Ok.. so we know what toes are and what cramp means.   Put them together and we have TOE CRAMPS, right?  ^_^
For a clearer understanding though, a toe cramp is a sudden pain or spasm which may occur in all or just a few of the toes at once.  Sometimes the cramping toe can be seen to bend or twitch,  bend  to the side or  almost cross over each other, usually lasting for some seconds and then the cramping ends after a couple of groans and cringes from poor you.
Even big and grown men may find themselves groaning out loud from searing pain due to toe cramps, but not to worry; toe cramps, whether big or smaller toes, are quite common,  occurs more frequently in the middle of the night or during exercise, and doesn’t always translate to fatal illness or a terrible disease.  ^__^
However, knowing why our toes cramp once in a while may help us avoid repeat occurrences.
So, why do toes cramp?
  • Primarily, toe cramps usually happen from  1)  moving the toes too much,  or b) by overly constricting those toes.  >>>   This is more common with athletes, runners, and dancers who use their feet a lot.  The toes get a lot of beating during running, long-distance walking, dancing and exercise.  They can’t help but flex their toes.   Those who wear shoes which are not very spacey at the tips (called a toe box; that area at the tip  of a shoe where the toes fit) where too rounded or too pointed toe boxes tend to constrict our toes and makes us more susceptible to toe cramps.
  • Diabetics or others with nerve damage in the feet are also susceptible to toe cramp problems.
  • Side effect of some medications – some prescription drugs may be causing those toe cramps, especially if one is taking cholesterol, blood pressure and asthma drugs; so ask your doctor for possibilities.
  • Lack of minerals, such as calcium and potassium in the body  has been known to cause toe cramps.   Such that if you are avoiding or limiting yourself on calcium-rich dairy foods due to calories or other reasons, those toes of yours may be paying for it in the form of spasms and cramps.
  • Dehydration
We have probably wondered why toes cramp more often than our fingers.  Now we know more obvious reasons; and confinement seems to be on top of the list.  When toes get confined in shoes, there’s a higher probability of having toe cramps especially when we wear TIGHT SHOES  or HIGH HEELS  which crams our toes.

Ok… so they may not be anything serious, just painful when it strikes, but we can relieve the pain by placing an ice pack on our toes.   Toe exercises also help to keep the toes flexible plus gently massaging them for good circulation and relief.

When the toe pain hits sharply, try standing up and placing your  weight on the affected toes (called the pressure method); it may work to lessen the severity of the cramps especially if the cramping has spread towards the ankle and legs(yes, it happens in some toe cramp cases).  You can also try pulling your toes back towards you until the cramp subsides or separate the toes and then massage them lightly.   Placing your foot and toes on a cold surface may also work for you as it also works for some people. You can try different approaches and see what works for you.

It would do well to wear shoes with a wide toe box area as a preventive measure.  Avoiding wearing high heels as much as you can, because the toes tend to  slant downward while becoming confined in a narrow or pointed style of toe box.  Avoid wearing shoes that tend to squeeze out the toes.

Once in a while, pamper your toes with massage by rubbing them back and forth using baby oil.  Before workouts warm up for at least ten minutes and do a little stretching and perhaps some yoga.  If you’ve been sitting for long periods, flex your feet and toes,  move your legs and feet in a circular motion to rejuvenate the circulatory system.

For severe toe cramps, there are alternative medicine practices like acupuncture and reflexology  to alleviate cramping attacks. You could try relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing to calm the whole body and minimize your chance of toe cramps.

Healthy feet makes healthy toes!  Say NO to toe cramps, too.  ^__^


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