curled toes

Curled Toes (2023) | Why Your Toes Are Cramping And Curling

Your shoes and your lifestyle influence your feet in different ways. However, there are a number of other conditions associated with curled toes. Identifying your symptoms for a doctor to diagnose any possible conditions more accurately is essential. In this article we discuss possible causes, diagnosis and treatment of curled toes.

What Causes Toes To Curl Up

The following three toes ‘deformities’ can be associated with curled toes.

Hammertoe: The smallest of the four toes on your foot has three separate bone segments connected by two joints.

A Hammertoe has a pronounced bend in the middle joint, usually longer than the other four toes. This deformity is most common in the second toe.

Claw Toe: A Claw Toe is an abnormal curve in the middle of the joint and the last joint closest to the nail. It can occur in any of the smallest four toes.

Mallet Toe: A Mallet Toe is a bent deformation in the joint closest to the nail of the toe.

toes cramping and curling
This image shows the different bends in a Hammer Toe, Claw Toe and Mallet Toe.

Toes Cramping And Curling In Shoes

If you are a runner, ill-fitting shoes can exacerbate the problem and take into account the impact on the duration of the workout.

They compress the toe, causing its tendons to contract and tighten. Toes that are too short, narrow, too high, or too pointed can develop into curled toes over time.

For this reason, people with high arches tend to have curled toes. High arches reduce the space in the shoes for the toe space.

Over time, this position causes the shape of the foot to shift, causing the toes to curl up.

Ill-fitting shoes are the leading cause of foot pain and problems; eight out of ten people have ill-fitting shoes. To solve this problem, you should buy appropriate shoes.

You can visit a shoe or foot clinic and get an evaluation to ensure you invest in healthy shoes for your unique feet.

At the clinic, a shoe specialist and podiatrist will help match the right shoe or insole to your foot shape, structure, and alignment to meet your corrective, supportive, and adaptable needs.

A shoe fitting can be done at your local shoe store or clinic.

Other reasons that can cause curled toes can be conditions that affect muscle imbalances. These imbalances can be due to incorrect biomechanics, abnormally long toes, neuromuscular diseases, arthritis, diabetes, or genetics.

toe curling meaning
A foot specialist can examine your feet to diagnose your curled toes.

How To Fix Curled Toes

There are a few different ways to fix curled toes. Movement of the affected toes can be difficult or painful.

Corn calluses can develop when the toe rubs against the inside of the shoe. Your doctor can diagnose curled toes by examining your foot. They can arrange an X-ray to examine the bones and joints in the foot and toes.

Footwear: As previously mentioned, proper footwear can relieve foot pain. A low-heel shoe with a deep-toe box (a flexible material that covers the toes) can help.

Leave enough space between your toes to relieve pressure and pain. Make sure there is at least half an inch of space from your long toe to the inside of your shoe.

See A Specialist: It is risky to try to shave or cut unsightly corns or bunions off your toes by yourself. Avoid over-the-counter medications to remove corn, many of which contain acid and can cause severe skin irritation.

Foot wounds can infect the foot, and infections can be challenging to treat, especially if you have diabetes or circulatory problems. See a foot specialist (podiatrist) instead to get them professionally removed.

Botox: Botox is an evidence-based treatment for fixing curled toes, especially after a stroke. It helps to alleviate spasticity by acting as a nerve block, resulting in relaxed muscles that help the toes release tension.

Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to see your suitability. Of course, there is always something else to discuss, and your therapist can see what you can do to get the best fit.

Electrical stimulation: You can see more results if you combine electrical stimulation with other treatments, such as toe exercises or Botox.

Electrical stimulation helps to stimulate the brain to promote the reconnection between the brain and toe muscles. It is particularly effective for people with curled toes that neurological injuries or strokes may have caused.

Be sure to avoid high heels, as they can increase the pressure on the toe and exacerbate the condition. If your curled toes are caused by shoes that are too tight, it can help to get a shoe with a larger toe space.

This gives the toe the necessary wiggle space. If you have tried most treatments unsuccessfully, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Depending on the problem, your doctor may need to relax other muscles and tendons to relax the toe. It is best to try conservative treatment of your curled toes before considering surgery.

involuntary curling of toes
A physical therapist can help with exercises to reverse or reduce curled toes.

Curled Toes Exercises

The best way to fix curled toes is to rewire the brain with targeted toe exercises. Invasive surgery is a procedure that requires a long recovery time and may require you to stay off your feet for an extended period.

So, exercises recommended by your physical therapist could be a good option before surgery.

Therapeutic exercises for curled toes are among the most effective non-invasive treatments available.

Loosening exercises help to stretch the muscles in the feet and toes. The more you use your toes and foot muscles, the better your brain can control and relax them.

These exercises activate neuroplasticity, the brain’s natural ability to rewire through repeated training. This works particularly well in people with curled toes due to a neurological injury or stroke.

By using these muscles, you can regain control over them. The following exercises for curled toes will help, but they may initially feel strange.

Toe stretches: If you still have flexibility in your toes, toe stretches are a great start. Flex your toes as wide as possible and hold for a few seconds; continue this stretch 10-15 times. Stop if you feel too much pain.

You can gently aid your toes in position with your hands and slowly build strength over time.

Toe Raises: With feet flat on the floor, lift your toes off the ground and stretch out your toes as wide as possible. Repeat 10-15 times.

Toe Crawls: Standing flat on the floor, stretch out your toes and grip the floor, trying to inch yourself forward. This is a challenging one, even for people without curled toes!

Toe Pick-Ups: Arrange some items on the floor to pick up with your toes. This one always makes people laugh, so have some fun with it.

Using your feet as hands can help to develop your range of motion and strengthen all parts of the muscles in your toes and feet.

Toe Curls: Think bicep curls but for your toes. Contract your toes by curling them more, then release them. You can make this exercise more challenging by grasping a towel with your toes or something along with a bit of weight.

what causes toes to curl up
Picking up items with your curled toes helps with the range of motion and muscle flexibility.

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