The next time you’re barefoot, take a look at your toes and make a note of what you see (and then get back into some shoes or slippers with proper arch support - you're gonna get flat feet being barefooted like that!). For people who don’t suffer from hammer toe, their toes point forward and don’t come across as anything out of the ordinary. However, for those who have hammer toe, the toes are bent in or curled downward, or both, with varying degrees of severity. This is caused by multiple factors, including wearing tight high heeled shoes, arthritis, toe injuries, and pressure from bunions.
But unlike some foot conditions, hammer toe correction is easy if caught early and treated the right way. If ignored and left untreated, hammer toe can become more serious and require surgery to fix. To prevent a more severe condition where it affects your ability to walk and flex your toes, make sure to avoid these five mistakes:
Wearing High Heels or Tight Shoes with Cramped Toe Space
If you’re already noticing early signs of hammer toe, such as toes that bend downward or constant corns or calluses, the biggest mistake you can make is continuing to wear high heels or shoes that are too small or tight. When you wear shoes that don’t fit your foot properly, it squeezes the toes and forces them to curl in order to accommodate your footwear. To avoid making your hammer toe worse, avoid wearing high heels over two inches and be sure all your other shoes offer optimal support, are the proper size, and give you enough room to let your toes stretch out. This should help relieve and correct hammer toe on its own.
Ignoring Toe and Foot Strengthening Exercises
Like any muscle, you need to exercise and stretch your toes to keep them flexible and strong. If you begin to see signs of hammer toe, there are exercises you can do to help correct the problem before it gets any worse. Towel curls – putting a towel under your feet and crumpling it with your toes – and marble pickups – using your toes to pick up marbles from the ground and drop them in a cup – can improve the flexibility of your toes and help them return to their normal state.
Not Treating Calluses, Corns, and Blisters
If you have hammer toe, you probably are also dealing with calluses, corns, and blisters. All these can cause pain and discomfort when walking, and can get worse if not treated. Cushion the affected areas by wearing orthotic insoles and take over the counter medication like ibuprofen for any pain you’re having. As annoying as calluses, corns, and blisters are, never pop or cut into them, as this can lead to infections and damage your foot even more. If taken care of in a timely manner, your toes and feet will heal well and improve your overall hammer toe condition.
Ignoring Bunions and Other Foot Conditions
If you have bunions, pressure from your big toe pointing inwards can lead to deformities in your second toe, and eventually your other toes, as well. Bunions is a condition that won’t fix itself on its own and will lead to hammer toe. Make sure you consult your doctor and get your bunions condition treated before it leads to worse foot problems and pain.
Avoiding the Doctor
If wearing proper footwear and doing exercises on your own doesn’t reverse your hammer toe, the worst thing you can do is let the symptoms persist and not consult a medical professional. Your doctor can do x-rays and ultrasounds to review your foot’s blood flow, and nerve testing to determine if you have any nerve damage. All this analysis will help your doctor determine how severe the condition is and develop a game plan to correct your hammer toe.
Having healthy feet is imperative for an overall higher quality of life. As the foundation of our body, it makes perfect sense that if our feet or even just the toes are in pain, we will have a very hard time being happy in life. Those of us who have gone through toe injuries or other issues will agree. Hammer toes, through preventive, or corrective, or surgical means, need to be brought back to being happy toes. If you're suffering from hammer toes, the main thing to do is stop doing damage. Using the best products for hammer toe, and avoiding the above five mistakes are major points to take to heart.