For those of you who are unfamiliar, a hammertoe is a contracture (bending) of one or both joints of the second, third, fourth, and/or fifth toes. This abnormal bending can put pressure on the toe when wearing shoes, which can eventually lead to foot complications.
Which is why it’s super important to have accommodating and properly fitting shoes to accommodate for a hammertoe condition. The best shoe brand for people suffering from hammertoes is of course…drumroll…Anodyne! There goes my shameless plug quota.
Nonetheless, aside from wearing properly fitting shoes, it’s also very important to exercise your hammertoes. Exercising your hammertoes is important because hammertoes usually start out as mild deformities and get progressively worse over time. In the earlier stages, hammertoes are flexible and the symptoms can often be managed with noninvasive measures. But if left untreated, hammertoes can become more rigid and will not respond to non-surgical treatment.
Below are a few exercises to help with hammertoes:
1) Toe Crunch
No, not the ab exercise. There's another type of crunch that can be done to work the toes. To perform it, sit on a chair, in a comfortable position, with no sock on your affected foot. Place a towel on the floor and put the upper half of your foot on it. Keep your heel down on the ground and crunch the towel up with your toes. Release your toes and the towel. Repeat 10 to12 times.
Taps can be done from the same position as toe crunches. With bare feet, extend your big toe down toward the floor while extending your remaining toes up in the air. Hold this position and lightly tap the floor with your toes. Do 10 to 12 taps and then reverse your toe position (so your big toe is pointing up and your other toes are pointing down). Repeat the same taps.
3) Manual Stretch
You can also stretch your toes with the use of a towel to help lengthen the muscles. Sit on the floor with your legs straight and out in front of you. Wrap a towel under the toes, gently apply backward pressure, and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. You can also use your hand to pull the toes back.
4) Toe Rolls
Toe rolls are similar to when you tap your fingers from side to side on a table. Stand barefoot on a flat surface. Lift all of your toes off the ground together, then roll them down one at a time (from the little toe to the big toe). Lift them up and repeat 10 to 12 times, then change directions.
The squeeze exercise can be performed from a seated position. Place your foot comfortably over your thigh. Slide your fingers in between your toes and squeeze your toes together, pinching your fingers. Release and repeat 10 to 12 times. If it's too much to do all of your toes, start with one finger between two toes and work your way up to all of them.
Every little bit helps. These exercises won’t take too much time out of your day, but will definitely help your Hammertoes in the long run.
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