Hammertoe is a painful condition that can sideline any runner. When you’d rather be out running, it’s a real bummer if you have to spend your time putting up your feet instead.
Hammertoe, which is a condition that causes your toe to bend downward at the middle joint, typically affects the second, third, or fourth toe. It develops when the muscles and ligaments in the toe are strained, causing the middle joint to buckle.
Although some cases of hammertoe are caused by genetics or flat feet, lifestyle factors ― such as wearing high heels ― can also cause the condition. The doctors at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine offer these helpful preventative tips for avoiding time on the sidelines.
One of the biggest causes of hammertoe is not wearing the right shoes. The proper footwear can make a huge difference in the health of your feet and how they feel.
The right shoes
One of the best things you can do to prevent developing hammertoe is to avoid wearing shoes that pinch your toes. This includes wearing high heels, which is a common cause of hammertoe in women. Most high heels not only pinch the toes, but they put enormous pressure on the toes. No matter if you’re wearing dress shoes or athletic shoes, make sure they have plenty of room in the toe area. Furthermore, wear shoes with good arch support.
The right time to shop
Keep in mind that your feet naturally swell over the course of the day, so the best time to shop for shoes is later in the day. You want to make sure that your shoes will fit well at all times of the day. Also, you should avoid buying shoes that are tight with the assumption that they’ll stretch. They should be comfortable from the start.
Dealing with hammertoe
Stretching as part of a warmup to working out is probably not a new idea. But while you may be aware of the need to stretch your hamstrings and glutes, you should also do the same for your feet if you have hammertoe. While stretching won’t cure hammertoe, it can help relax the muscles and ligaments surrounding the affected joint.
Some of the best stretches for your feet if you have hammertoe include the following:
- Extend your toes
- Curl your toes under
- Splay your toes as wide apart as possible
- Move each of your toes individually
- Pick up marbles with your toes
If your affected toe still moves at the joint, stretching may give you pain relief. However, if your toe doesn't bend at the joint, you may need surgery. Surgery may involve a tendon transfer, joint resection, or joint fusion, depending on the severity of your case.
If you’re suffering from hammertoe or want to learn more about how to prevent it, book an appointment online or over the phone with Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine today.