What Can be Done About Toe Cramps?
How to deal with those sneaky little nasties
Any regular sufferer of toe cramps will look at a ballerina, her toes pointed impossibly, and simply cringe. There's no way they'd be able to do that and get away with it. Actually, toe cramps can become a chronic problem for professional dancers, despite their outstanding muscle tone. For some people, any slightly abnormal movement of the toes, even wriggling them in the sand, gives rise to excruciating pain and the kind of toe curling that is not related to pleasurable activities! Toe cramps can come from nowhere. One minute you're lying in bed, happily watching TV and the next, you're writhing in agony and you feel as though your toes have turned against you, waging a war you think you won't win.
What causes toe cramps?
The usual culprit is ill-fitting shoes that are tighter than they should be in the toe area. High heels are especially problematic. Cramps are also attributed to a calcium deficiency so you may want to check that you're eating enough dairy foods, fish with tiny bones (such as salmon, anchovies and sardines) and drinking enough milk. Toe cramps tend to rear their ugly heads when feet have been confined to shoes for hours. Athletes also suffer from them and find that sports massage can be very beneficial. Yoga newbies are surprised when they find that the very exercise that should keep their bodies supple causes pain and discomfort.
What can you do about them?
Well, for starters, you can avoid wearing high heels, to work at least; save them for special occasions. They've never been good for foot health anyway and they contribute to a bad back. Whenever possible during the day, you should try to remove your shoes and exercise your feet, even if under your desk or on the bus or train. It helps to promote circulation by moving your ankles around in a circular movement, bending and flexing your feet and shaking each leg in turn as you go about your work.
If your toe cramps are persistent and you find you're experiencing them on a regular basis, your physician can examine your feet and see what medical solutions are left that you may not have thought of to relieve the problem. It's unlikely that surgery would be recommended for toe cramps.
Homeopathic remedies may be of benefit since a holistic approach will take into consideration any deficiencies in calcium or potassium, another known factor in toe cramps. Accupressure and reflexology are also worth considering. During the treatment, you may experience moderate to severe pain but the nerves that send the message of pain to the brain will ease off afterwards.
Toe cramps aren't the most pleasant affliction but they don't signify any major health concern. Exercising adequately and eating well, including plenty of potassium and calcium rich foods can make a difference.
To alleviate toe cramps, you can do special exercises designed to strengthen the muscles. Try standing on tiptoes and raising your body up and then down repeatedly, using your toes to support you. Hold each position for five seconds. Another good one is to pick up marbles with your toes and relocate them to another spot on the floor. Walking on sand strengthens toes, massages feet and exfoliates the skin … a great workout for feet!