Cramping is oh-so painful, and it can feel like it takes forever for the pain to stop. A cramp in the toe every now and then is common, however, some people experience twitching, shooting pain, and involuntary movements with the cramping. We have all been there, but if you are suffering from painful toe cramping more than a few times a week, it could be something serious.

To remedy toe-cramping, here 5 things you can do to minimize toe cramping:

1. Dehydration

This is the most common cause of muscle cramping. The body needs enough water every day to keep muscle cells hydrated; if your body becomes dehydrated, muscle function can suffer. Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, and more if you are in hot temperatures or exercising.

2. Mineral Deficiency

Minerals are one of the most important nutrients needed to prevent muscle cramps. Specific types of minerals, also known as electrolytes, are needed by nerve cells within muscle tissue to communicate properly. They include magnesium, potassium, sodium, phosphate, and chloride. Electrolytes are usually found in sports drinks and, alternatively, in coconut water. Replenish minerals after strenuous exercise or a hot day in order to keep cramps from happening.

3. Age

Muscle mass and bone density are two things that decline with age. As we age, everyday life can become more taxing on muscle tissue, making it more difficult to stay active. Avoid painful toe cramps and other muscle cramping by exercising regularly, especially after age 50.

4. Medical Conditions

Diabetes, liver problems, and peripheral neuropathy are all health problems that can worsen muscle cramping. For example, cramping is much more common in people with diabetes or liver disease, because the blood tends to get overloaded with toxins, causing muscle spasms and cramps. In people with peripheral neuropathy, nerves of the toes can become damaged, causing very painful cramping.

5. Overexertion

It may seem strange, but cramping that occurs during a workout, or shortly afterward, is most likely not the result of dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance, although they are related causes. Overexertion is what athletes experience as a result of pushing their bodies too hard in the gym, on the running track, or elsewhere. Cramping that occurs due to muscle fatigue is often relieved by a post-workout stretch (while muscles are warm).

How Can I Prevent Toe Cramping?

The best way to prevent toe cramping is to always take good care of your muscles. They need specific nutrients in order to function at peak performance levels, and if you feed them right, your muscles are much less likely to cramp.

Here are the top foods to feed muscles so they don’t cramp:

Anti-Spasmodic Herbs

These herbs can be purchased in whole form, as a supplement, or in concentrated plant essences known as essential oils. The best herbs for muscle cramps include fennel, lemon balm, lobelia, garlic, and anise. Add these to your menu 3-5 times a week to reduce the risk of recurrent muscle cramps.

BCAAs (Branch-Chain Amino Acids)

Every protein is made up of these smaller building blocks known as amino acids. They include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Poor nutrition and exercise often deplete the body of BCAAs, and so they must be replenished in order to reduce the risk of post-workout cramping. BCAA rich foods include dairy products, beef, soy, seeds and nuts, seafood, and beans.

B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Bananas are loaded with potassium (an essential electrolyte), but they aren’t the only food that packs a nutritional punch. Here are other natural foods that contain electrolytes to fight muscle cramping: sea salt, dairy products, olives, sauerkraut, melons, potatoes, raisins, peas, leafy green vegetables, nuts, sardines, eggs, figs, and asparagus.

How Can I Relieve an Existing Toe Cramp?

Involuntary muscle cramping can carry with it a paralyzing feeling in your feet and toes. That mysterious pain that seems to hit with a “bang” can be excruciating. But it doesn’t have to hurt as long as the cramp lasts. When you feel the cramp hit, stretch slowly and immediately. Once you feel the pain start to subside, you can then give the area a gentle rub to ease any lingering pain.

While muscle spasms and cramping of the feet and toes are a very common problem, they should not happen more than a few times a week. If you feel that your toe cramping has become so severe that making small lifestyle changes does not help, call your doctor immediately and talk about your options.

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