Do you ever wake up from a deep sleep with your creepy, cramped toes giving you a deformed peace sign? Cramping toes can be disruptive to your sleep, not to mention embarrassing in the middle of a yoga class if they happen while you’re awake. Here’s why and what to do about toe cramps.
Why Toes Cramp
- One common physical reason for toe cramps when you sleep is your sleep posture. If you sleep with your toes pointed, or in plantar flexion, you shorten the calf muscle and the plantar fascia. The calf muscle ends right above your Achilles, where it becomes the Achilles tendon. That tendon wraps under to the heel of your foot, and continues all the way to your toes. This is called the plantar fascia. (See this article on plantar fasciitis for more info on what to do.) This is why, when your toes are pointed, the plantar fascia also becomes shortened and can cramp. When it cramps, the fascia acts like a lever on your toes. It pulls them in or contorts them in all kinds of strange ways.
- Sometimes your toes cramp when your feet take a beating the day before, whether from high heels, shoes that are too tight in the toe box, running on hard surfaces or plyometric sports that involve jumping. Make sure you wear supportive footwear, keep your knees bent to absorb shock and do some foot stretches after working out.
- Toes cramp because of vitamin deficiency or dehydration. Try drinking more water or taking vitamins A, B, C, potassium and magnesium. Limit your coffee to one or two cups a day with plenty of water in between.
- Read the side effects for your medications. If you threw out the massive pamphlet with eight point type that your medicine came with, Drugs.com is a great website for drug side effects.
If all of this fails in helping with your toe cramps while you sleep or while you’re awake, you could have an underlying medical condition like diabetes or a thyroid problem. Be sure you visit your doctor and describe your symptoms. In the meantime, take good care of your body and feet, and be sure to sleep in the proper position at night!