Most of the time, these cramps can be treated with DIY remedies.
You know that strange thing when your toes start twitching and involuntarily twisting around each other? Or when you wake up in the middle of the night with your foot flexed, immovable, and shooting with pain? What is with those cramps?
"They're usually a warning that you're overdoing it," says Dr Charles Kim, a musculoskeletal rehab specialist. "But if you feel cramping getting worse and not relenting, you should talk to a doctor." Frequent foot cramping may signal an underlying medical condition involving the circulatory or central nervous system, so see your physician if your muscle spasms make you uneasy or interfere with your daily life.
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But most of the time, toe cramps have a few common causes and can be treated with some DIY interventions.
Toe cramps have various triggers, but overuse, dehydration, and mineral deficiencies (particularly, potassium, calcium, and magnesium) are some of the most common culprits, according to Kim. When you exercise, you sweat out the minerals your muscles need. And that deficiency causes muscle contractions or spasms, which we call cramps. "If you've gone for a long run, overexerted yourself, or overtrained, toe cramps are your muscles telling you to dial it back because they can't take the strain," says Kim.
Toe cramps also frequently stem from unnecessary strain or restricted blood flow from tight-fitting shoes.
Age, of course, is not kind to your feet either. Toe cramps often appear after 50, when bones lose calcium and muscles lose elasticity and strain to support your body. Also, "as we age, our nerve and vascular function isn't as robust as it used to be," says Kim. "That leads to cramping because your nerves, which provide nutrition and messages to your muscles, aren't fully up to the task."
First, the bad news: There's no magic cure for toe cramps. And research shows that magnesium supplements seem to make no difference at all.
Now, the good news: You can reduce and prevent toe cramps, assuming you don't have an underlying condition. Here are four fixes to try: