Toe Cramps


Facts about Toe Cramps


How often has it happened; you are comfortably ensconced in your easy chair in front of the television when suddenly toe cramps grip your foot, forcing you out of your cozy spot in an effort to relieve the cramp.  What causes these painful though brief seizures, and how can you avoid them?


Five digits that protrude from the narrow end of the foot are what we call toes.  Their purpose is to provide a measure of balance to the human body; enabling us to walk and to bear the weight of our body when upright.  Toes are composed of jointed bones, muscles, nerves and tissue, as well as tendons.  Each of the toes is named, basically describing their location and size.  The big toe is the largest of all; the toe next to the big toe is the index toe; the middle toe is so named for its proximity as is the fourth toe, while the last of the toes is called either the little, the baby or the pinky toe.  While five toes is the normal number of digits for humans, there are occurrences of polydactyly, or being born with extra toes and also syndactyly, or born with fewer than five toes. 


People often don’t consider the health and wellbeing of their toes until they experience problems.  Shoes are the bane of the toes; often, fashion and vanity frequently dictate the type of shoes that are worn by an individual and not comfort.  At the end of the day, the wearer gratefully kicks off the tight, constrictive shoes and blissfully stretches out the toes that have been crammed in unforgiving leather or artificial materials all day.  Even still, wearing these shoes is one of the leading causes of toe cramps. 


Diet also plays a role in when cramping is experienced, even for toes.  Insufficient potassium levels in the body will cause muscles to cramp; this mineral is crucial in controlling the movement of muscles.  Dehydration is also a key factor in increasing the likelihood of cramps.  A frequent cause of summertime cramps, dehydration is often caused when more exertion through physical activities occurs.  Sports that are played in summer heat without adequate fluids will result in an imbalance of fluids and sodium in the body.  These conditions are predispositions for muscle cramping, and when combined with the athlete forcing more stress on the feet and toes, lead to an increased risk of toe cramps.

Knowing that these conditions are primary causes for muscle cramps should indicate that avoiding them will decrease the risk of the cramps occurring.  Although fashionable shoes may be fun and trendy to wear, the effects they often have on the body should be enough to discourage people from wearing them for long periods of time.  High heels, pointed toed shoes, ill fitting shoes and shoes that are in general meant more for appearance than for function should be avoided at all cost, especially when the wearer will be on their feet extensively.  Likewise, it is recommended that people always be mindful of their diets, but in particular when the foods consumed do not supply the necessary minerals and nutrients the body requires simply to function optimally.  At all times of the year it is advisable to drink adequate amounts of water in order to help the bodily systems operate in the manner they are designed to do.  In warmer weather when high levels of activity are performed, even more fluids should be ingested to compensate for sweating, in which both fluids and sodium are lost.


The gripping agony of toe cramps is a memorable experience; one that no one wishes to repeat.  To fully relax and be comfortable at the end of the day without fear of muscle cramps, it simply requires taking better care of oneself.