Posts for tag: hammertoes

If the world is lacking in anything, it certainly isn't health advice. Everywhere you turn thare are articles, talk shows, and videos promoting exercise, healthy eating, meditation and more. You are, in fact, reading a blog right now that aims to give you health advice. It's everywhere!

With so much information, it can be difficult to remember every tip your read or hear. When it comes to your foot health, if you only remember one thing, remember to stretch. Stretching your feet, ankles, and legs before and after workouts can prevent injury and relieve pain. Daily repetition can increase flexibility, relax tendons, and strengthen muscles.

Begin with your lower leg. The medical term for abnormally or uncomfortably tight calf muscles is Equinus. A person with this condition would be unable to bend the top of their foot toward their shin. Such limited mobility will force the body to compensate when walking. Your arches may fall, or you may be tempted to toe-walk to avoid discomfort. These modifications in gait may lead to plantar fasciitis, leg cramping, tendonitis, ankle pain, and more. Heel lifts and wall stretches can loosen tight calves.

READ MORE: Your Achilles Heel

Next, your ankles need a little attention. Stretching and exercising your ankles will keep ligaments strong and flexible which helps avoid ankle sprains during activity. Overuse and chronic inflammation of the ankle joint can lead to osteoarthritis. Stretching may relieve joint pain due to arthritis and promote healthy circulation. Try drawing the alphabet in the air with your foot. Point your foot and hold for one minute then flex for one minute. Repeat this three to five times. Flexible ankles are important to maintaining an active lifestyle.

READ MORE: Chronic Ankle Instability

Finally, you’ll want to exercise your toes. Bunions, hammertoes, arthritis and more can plague your tootsies if you don’t stretch them. With no shoes or socks on, spread your toes as wide as you can, hold for 10 seconds then relax and repeat ten times on each foot. Improve flexibility and dexterity by picking up small objects with your toes. Challenge yourself to move pencils or marbles into a cup. Keeping toes strong can prevent strain and injury.

READ MORE: Hammertoes

It’s not uncommon to feel soreness when your first start stretching, but if you feel pain, call the FAAWC to make an appointment. If you’ve had a recent injury to your foot or ankle, check with your podiatrist before starting a stretching regimen.

Your toes are permanent roommates and if you’ve ever had a roommate, you know that people who live in close proximity need their space. Your toes are no different! When you crowd your toes by wearing pointed-toe shoes, high heels that put pressure on the front of the toes, or any shoe with a narrow toe box, it can lead to a hammertoe. What is a hammertoe? I’m glad you asked…


A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of a toe. It most often occurs in the second, third, and fourth toes. When your toes are curled under for extended periods of time, they begin to hold that shape. It may become painful to stretch or manipulate the toe and secondary issues such as blisters, corns, and calluses can arise. Improperly fitting shoes are a huge factor in the development of hammertoes. They are also more likely to develop in toes that have experienced a trauma, such as a bad break, jam, or stub. There are some genetic risk factors too, so let your podiatrist know if you have a family history of hammertoes (even if you haven’t developed one yourself). Arthritis and muscle imbalances are also causes of hammertoes.


READ MORE: Hammertoes


Women are more susceptible than men and the chances of developing this condition increase as you age. If your second toe is longer than your big toe, you will need to pay particular attention to the way your shoes fit and give extra space. Your shoes may also become uncomfortable due to corns or calluses that form on the bump of the toe. Use a pumice stone to reduce calluses and put a silicone or moleskin pad on the toe to avoid further rubbing.


Time is of the essence with a hammertoe. If treatment begins as soon as the toe begins to bend (when it’s still moveable), the condition can often be halted with simple methods such as toe exercises, roomier shoes, toe splints, or orthotics. If you allow your hammertoe to go untreated until it is fixed into position, which is what about 50% of our patients do, a surgical solution may be your only option. Your podiatrist might release or reposition the tendons and ligaments holding the toe curled or use pins and bone fusions to correct the bend.


The best thing you can do for your feet is to wear the proper shoes and make an appointment with the FAAWC immediately when you notice a hammertoe developing. We’re here to help.


READ MORE: Quick Tips for the Shoe Store

September 28, 2017
Category: Uncategorized

It’s strange that after all these years of blogging, we haven’t focused on one of the most common foot illnesses: hammertoes. When I say hammertoe, pictures of burly men hopping about and cursing after hitting themselves with a hammer comes to mind, but a hammertoe has nothing to do with hammers at all – except for the shape. A hammertoe is an abnormal bend in the middle joint of…you guessed it, your toes.

The characteristic “hammer” shape of the bent toe, usually the second, third, or fourth toe, can identify this condition. There is also a variation of this deformity called a mallet toe, which is a bend in the first joint of the toe (closest to the toenail). Essentially it looks like you have curled up a toe or two permanently. And unfortunately, unless the cause is remedied, it won’t uncurl. There are three main causes of hammertoes: the wrong shoes, sudden trauma, or a muscle imbalance.


Let’s face it, women are more likely to cram their feet into uncomfortable shoes for the sake of fun or fashion, which means women are also more likely than men to develop hammertoes. Just as waves crashing against rock slowly rub the stone down over time, so too will the wrong shoes forces your toes out of alignment, causing unpleasant side effects and potentially permanent damage. Toes that become bunched up inside tight or ill-fitting shoes can still give trouble, even when you switch to better shoes. Corns and calluses formed by constant friction make for unpleasant walking companions. Those with Morton’s Toe (a second toe that is longer than your first toe) need to be especially careful when choosing shoes as they are at increased risk of developing a hammertoe.


It seems obvious to say that direct trauma to a toe may deform it, but it takes a certain type of trauma to create a hammertoe. Those traumas include stubbing, jamming, or breaking your toe. It generally doesn’t just break into the perfect hammertoe shape though. Often these injuries can cause lasting bone deformity or lead to changes in toe flexibility or strength all of which can ultimately lead to a hammertoe.

Muscle Imbalance

Technically, all hammertoes are a result of a muscle imbalance. When an outside force (e.g. your shoes) pushes your toes in one direction or another, the muscles and tendons will stretch and contract to adapt to the shape. If they adapt too much and become loose or tight, this imbalance will remain long after you take your shoes off.These muscle imbalances may also be the result of a preexisting condition such as arthritis or be exacerbated by unrelated conditions like diabetes.

In the end, hammertoes are a relatively straightforward condition; things bend and stretch and if they are stretched one way too long it leads to deformity, thus, a hammertoe. Get these fixed as soon as you see them developing! If caught in the early stages, hammertoes may be fixed with protective padding, special taping techniques, custom orthotics, shoe and lifestyle changes, and exercise. If the hammertoe progresses too far, surgery may be the only option. Don’t let it get that far. See your podiatrist today about your hammertoes!

Everyone loves new shoes and if you’re in the market for a pair, there are a few things you should be doing at the shoe store to make sure they fit properly and your podiatrist would approve.

  1. Stand Up

Everyone tells you to stand up at the shoe store and hopefully everyone does, but the main reason we want to do this is that our foot widens and lengthens slightly when we stand up. Force is calculated as mass x acceleration. When you stand up, the force that your body exerts on your feet causes them to change. Your toes extend forward and spread to support you while walking. If we don't give them enough room to do this, we can cause serious damage.

  1. Walk Around

Think about the activity you will be doing in your new pair of shoes. Perhaps it’s a fancy pair of high heels for a wedding. You’ll probably be sitting, standing, and dancing in these shoes all night, so you should stand up and wander around the store for ten minutes to make sure they are comfortable; maybe even break out a move or two. If it’s a new running shoe you need, go to a store with actual clerks who can evaluate your stride and help you pick a style. Places like the New Balance Store are set up to allow customers to easily jog around the store while trying on shoes. Whenever your style, make sure you get up and walk, jog, or boogie in those new shoes before heading to the checkout.

  1. Spread Your Toes

For those who may not remember, there are a myriad of problems we can get from our shoes cramping our toes. Bunions, corns, hammertoes, and ingrown toenails may be in your future if you don’t give your little piggies space to move. Many shoes come in multiple sizes, but not multiple widths. Get your foot width measured along with the length. If you have a wider foot, search for shoes that will accommodate you. Don’t try and fit into the average when you need something different.


To shoe or not to shoe, that is the question. If you’re anything like me, you kick your shoes off as soon as you walk through the door to your home after work. However, I know many people who will not go without shoes, even in their own home. So what are the arguments for going barefoot or not? Is it safe? Is it healthy? Is it even legal if you want to go without shoes in public? The answers may surprise you.


Belief: Going without shoes is bad for your feet.

Truth: Shoes are a modern day convenience. Millions of people worldwide still go without shoes on a daily basis, many of them by choice. Research on those who go without shoes show that their feet are actually healthier than those who constantly wear them. One reason may be that most people who wear shoes are not wearing the correct size. And don’t even get me started again on high heels. Common problems associated with wearing the wrong shoes include: calluses, bunions, hammertoes, and other foot deformities. Shoes interrupt the natural gait of humans. Evolution spent thousands of years perfecting the way we walk, making sure that each step increased the health of the human body in a natural, mechanical way. Now you throw on a pair of shoes and that gait changes. Take running for example. Research shows that when we run without shoes on, we are more likely to land on the balls of our feet, causing less shock to the legs than the “traditional” running gait of heel-toe while wearing shoes.

Belief: I can hurt myself or get a disease from going barefoot.

Truth: Think about the things you do everyday. Do you drive to work? Driving is exponentially more dangerous than going barefoot. When people argue about the dangers of going barefoot, they throw around words like “athlete’s foot”, “tetanus”, and “parasites” to scare you. The truth is that these are of very little concern. Let’s look at athlete’s foot. The APMA describes athlete’s foot as “a skin disease caused by a fungus, usually occurring between the toes. The fungus most commonly attacks the feet because shoes create a warm, dark, and humid environment, which encourages fungus growth.” Pay close attention, did you notice the word shoes in that quote? So when people try to tell you that going barefoot will grow fungus on your feet, just look down at their shoes and chuckle. You know the truth.

But what about tetanus? Sure, cuts, abrasions, and stepping on sharp objects are always concerns when going barefoot, but this is easy to avoid and remedy. First of all, make sure your tetanus booster is up to date (once every ten years). Secondly, don’t just start going barefoot everywhere all at once. If your feet are not accustomed to being barefoot, then the soles of your feet are probably pretty sensitive. Once you start going barefoot for short periods of time, the skin on the soles of your feet will stiffen and grow thicker, which makes them more resistant to sharp objects. Third, be smart! Even if you love going barefoot, you wouldn’t walk through a construction site or a pile of glass without shoes. So be logical and watch where you step.

Ok, so how about those pesky parasites? While it is true that certain parasites can enter the body through the feet, this is very uncommon in the United States. The main concern for parasites is in developing countries where sanitation might not be the best. Again, just be smart about this. Don’t walk through a sewer without shoes on (although, I can’t think of why you would walk through a sewer in the first place).

Belief: Going barefoot is just gross and dirty.

Truth: When is the last time you washed your running shoes? Or that pair of high heels you wear to work every day? I’m guessing your answer was somewhere between “not very often” and “never”. Now, how about the last time you washed your feet? I’m hoping for most of you that the answer is every day in the shower. So when you get right down to it, going barefoot may get your feet a little dirtier than if you were wearing shoes, but based on how often your feet get washed, I would say that’s an ok trade off.

Belief: Going barefoot is good for everyone!

Truth: Unfortunately, this one is not true. If you have certain conditions, especially diabetes, it is very important that you continue to wear shoes, even at home. Diabetes leads to poor circulation in the feet, resulting in diminished sensitivity. So while most people would be able to feel a small sharp object poke the bottom of their foot, people with diabetes may not and this could lead to infection and possibly amputation. Even something as simple as stubbing your toe could lead to a more serious problem. The good thing is, there are plenty of shoes out there that, when they fit properly, can actually be good for your feet and look stylish.

You also want to wear shoes while playing sports or working around heavy or dangerous machinery or conditions. I wouldn't suggest playing a game of soccer or going to your factory job without shoes, even if it's legal to do so.

Belief: Going barefoot in most public places is illegal.

Truth: WRONG! There is no law requiring you to wear shoes except in a few public places, such as government buildings. When you see that sign in the window that says “No shirt. No shoes. No service.” That is simply that establishment’s decision. There are restaurants that won’t seat you if you aren’t wearing a tie, but that doesn’t mean it’s a law. Don’t believe me? The website wrote letters to the government of every state in 2009 asking about laws concerning going barefoot. Every single response affirmed that there was no law requiring footwear in public establishments. You can read all of the responses here:

So the next time you want to kick off your shoes and relax, do it. Get in touch with Mother Nature and feel the sand/dirt/grass between your toes. I promise, you wont get in trouble for it, although you may get some strange looks.