When a toe or leg cramp catches you by surprise, the pain can be debilitating and stop you in your tracks. These muscle cramps can be triggered by a range of factors including dehydration, mineral deficiencies, muscle overuse, wearing shoes that are too tight or by keeping your foot or leg in the same position for a long time. Rather than suffering through a toe or leg cramp, learn how to ease the discomfort when a cramp catches you off guard.
Stretching the cramped area might help get rid of the discomfort. To stretch a cramped calf muscle, sit on the floor with the cramped leg stretched out in front of you. Flex the foot of your extended leg, wrap a towel behind the toes of your foot and gently pull the ends of the towel toward you. Hold this stretch for about 15 seconds. To stretch cramped toes, place your cramped foot flat on the floor. Flex your toes up as far as you can and spread them apart. Hold this for two seconds before curling your toes under as far as you can. Repeat this about 10 times.
A leg or toe cramp can be caused by dehydration. If you're exercising while the cramping occurs, drink some water to get rid of the pain. If you're sweating a lot, consume a sports drink or take salt tablets to help replenish lost minerals. Avoid cramps by keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day. Eating a balanced diet that includes dairy products, whole grains and fruits and vegetables also helps prevent mineral deficiencies, as does taking a daily mineral supplement.
Apply Heat or Ice
Applying heat to the cramped area can help relax the muscle. Place a hot pack on the area for about 15 minutes, or take a warm shower or bath for a similar effect. If you still feel pain after applying the heat pack, apply a cold pack on the area for 15 minutes to help soothe and numb the pain. Always wrap the cold or hot pack in a towel before applying it to your bare skin.
See Your Doctor
If you frequently experience severe cramping, consult your doctor. Sometimes an underlying health condition, such as kidney disease, multiple sclerosis or thyroid disease, can trigger the discomfort. Certain medications you're taking might also trigger cramping. Your doctor can suggest the correct treatment or adjust your medication to help get rid of the cramps. He can also prescribe medication against cramping or recommend that you use over-the-counter pain medicine to combat cramping.