Hammer toe, claw toe, and mallet toe are toe deformities that can cause pain and discomfort in your everyday life. All three conditions involve a toe that is unnaturally bent even when resting. Hammer toe is characterized with a bend in your middle joint, claw toe with a bend in both the middle and tip, and mallet toe with a bend just at the tip.
Usually caused by improperly fitting shoes, and, more rarely, anatomical deformities or joint conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, these conditions can make it difficult to stay on your feet due to pain, balance issues, and secondary issues like corns and calluses.
Fortunately, you can do a few things at home to ease the pain and improve the condition. Keep reading to learn three natural care tips to provide relief for your hammer, claw, or mallet toe.
1. Choose Shoes With Roomy Toe Boxes
Wide toe box shoes are perhaps the most important change you can make to ease discomfort and encourage the healing of your toes. Although several factors may contribute to the formation of hammer, claw, or mallet toe, narrow shoes that don’t allow your toes to stretch out and breathe are one of the biggest offenders.
To encourage your toes to regain their natural posture, look for shoes with wide toe boxes. Preferably, these should also be made out of soft, flexible materials like leather or canvas to allow a full range of motion. This means you should avoid rigid, tight shoes like high heels or dress shoes, and instead opt for minimalist shoes, loafers, or shoes that are specifically made for wider feet.
2. Try Arch Supports and Toe Correctors
If you’re not ready to give up your heels or dress shoes just yet, or if you want to give your toes extra support, consider using arch supports or toe spacers. Both of these orthopedic tools can be purchased over the counter and are worn inside your shoes to help your feet stay in proper alignment.
Arch supports are devices you insert into your shoes (usually insoles) to provide extra support for your arch and heel. They can help to redistribute weight and take some of the pressure off of your toes.
Toe correctors, on the other hand, are devices that you wear around your toe joints. They gently force your toes into their proper straight position, and, over time, can help your muscles and tendons naturally conform to this position so that you don’t have to rely on the correctors.
Both devices are available in various sizes, materials, and types, so be sure to consult with a professional or do your research to find the best option for you.
3. Do Exercises that Promote Toe Health
Although toes may seem like small and insignificant body parts, they play a surprisingly large role in your balance and mobility. Unfortunately, this is something most people only realize once they have issues with their toes like hammer, claw, or mallet toe.
Toe exercises can strengthen the muscles and tendons around your toe joints, increase blood flow to the area, and improve flexibility. This can help you restore your toe’s range of movement and strength, which can help you realign your toes to their natural posture.
Toe lifts, raises, lifts and spreads, flexes, and pulls can all help your toes heal. Try to set aside ten to twenty minutes a day to do some toe exercises.
If you have hammer, claw, or mallet toe, wide toe box shoes, arch supports or toe correctors, and regular toe exercises can all help ease your pain and improve your condition. Try incorporating these natural care tips into your daily routine to see results.