Hammertoes: Footwear Recommendations, Treatment Options, and Best Exercises

Footwear and Hammertoes

Hammertoes make it difficult to find shoes that fit well since your toes are bent at the joint. Because of this, the most comfortable shoes if you have hammertoes are ones that are soft on the upper and overall stretchy. Most importantly, make sure the shoe fits well and there is half an inch of space between the end of the longest toe and the shoe. It is hard to find dress shoes that are stretchy but there are many soft leather upper dressy shoes that work well for hammertoes. Ideally therefore the best running shoes for hammertoes are ones that are soft leather and that can conform to the shape of the toe. Mesh shoes will also work fine, but they will most probably rip. Sometimes, shoes with a waterproof lining have that extra layer of protection that may help the upper from ripping. When trying to find the best socks for hammertoes, be sure to pick soft cotton or wool that provides a layer of padding on top of the joint. For all shoes for hammertoes, the toe box should be wide and oblique in shape.

Treating Hammertoes

Do orthotics help with hammertoes?

Yes, orthotics can help a tremendous amount for the treatment of hammertoes. A well-made, functional shoe insert can help correct the abnormal biomechanics of the foot and take the pressure off the hammertoe. A well-placed metatarsal pad on your orthotics can also make a great difference in alleviating the discomfort.

  • Can hammertoes be corrected with surgery?

Surgery can correct hammertoes, but in general, it is not done that often unless you have a severe case that affects your daily activities.

  • How can I correct hammertoes without surgery?

Often your doctor will prescribe over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication if the pain and swelling on the tip of the joint are quite bad. There are also some toe splints that you can wear to help relieve the pain from hammertoes.

  • How can I prevent a hammertoe from getting worse?

If your hammertoe is flexible you should try stretching it and massaging it to elongate the toe at the flexion point. Be sure to wear shoes that fit well because a shoe that is too short will cause the toe to contract even more. Try to avoid being barefoot and wear properly made orthotics inside your shoes. Frequently a corn may form at the tip of the hammertoe and this should be gently pumice stoned away so that it does not build up over time

Exercises for Hammertoes

The best exercises for hammertoes are when you stretch and strengthen the toes of your feet. Movements like toe curls, splaying/separating your toes, moving each toe individually, and picking up marbles with your toes are all good ways to stretch and strengthen your toes.

Have more questions about the causes and treatment of hammertoes? Click here to learn more.

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