Hammer Toe or Contracted Toe is a medical condition which is usually caused due to muscle imbalance in which the toe gets bent and takes a claw-like position. This condition is mostly common with the second toe most often when the bunion pushes the big toe towards and under it, although all the toes can be affected equally. In this article we will cover how Hammer Toes can be treated without surgery by using splints, shoes, pads, and doing exercises designed for Hammer Toe.
Splints For Hammer Toe
Hammer Toe Splints also known by the name of Budin Splints are so designed so as to straighten out the curled Hammer Toes. The splints can be used to extend a Hammer Toe which is curled under the foot and they can also be used to pull a Hammer Toe down that has risen up. A Hammer Toe Splint is made up of a large foam pad with either single, double, or three loops. These loops are connected to the pad and rise up perpendicular to the pad. The functioning of the splint is that it uses the weight of the body so as to pull the Hammer Toe back into its normal alignment if it is going down or curling up. The splint loops over the affected toe through an elastic band which knits through the pad. This elastic band can be made loose or tightened to adjust the fit. These splints are made of synthetic and can be hand washed in lukewarm water. It is important for the splints to dry out completely before reusing them. In case if an individual with Hammer Toe has diabetes or circulation difficulty then he or she should consult a physician before using the splints.
Shoes To Correct Hammer Toes
Generally, shoes that are best suited for Hammer Toes are those which have a good cushion and have a flexible area at the ball of the foot. The heel area needs to be strong and supportive and the front of the shoe needs to be flexible. All in all, the shoe should feel comfortable as soon as the individual wears it. Also, the shoe should fit well with a firm sole. There is specific time for wearing a shoe for Hammer Toe, which is either in the afternoon or after a walk as that is when the foot gets more blood supply. There should be at least half an inch space between the long toe and the tip of the shoe. It is important that the individual should stand and walk with the shoes on, in order to measure the comfort level with the shoes on. Generally for shoes designed for Hammer Toes, the insoles should be removable. People with Hammer Toes should avoid wearing high heels. Also, it is important to loosen the laces before wearing the shoe. People with Hammer Toes should avoid wearing different shoes for different purposes like exercise, dress shoes, and sports shoes.
Use Of Pads To Correct Hammer Toes
Hammer Toe pads are helpful for individuals with Contracted Toe or Hammer Toes as they can be used to control motion of the toe and bind it in a place and prevent it from rubbing against the shoe and causing discomfort. There are numerous pads available in the market which is designed specifically for Hammer Toes. Choosing the right pad is essential for lessening discomfort due to Hammer Toes and depends on the location of the problem.
Exercises For Hammer Toe
Toe Crunch Exercise For Hammer Toe
This exercise is quite helpful for Hammer toes. To do this exercise, the individual needs to sit on a chair so that he or she is comfortable. The individual should not wear any socks on the affected foot while doing this exercise. Now, place a towel on floor and place the upper half of the foot on the towel. Keep the heel down on the ground and try and crunch the towel upwards with the toes. Release it back to normal position and repeat this exercise about 10 times.
Toe Tap Exercise For Hammer Toes
This exercise is also quite similar to Toe Crunches. To do this exercise, without wearing any socks on the affected foot extend the big toe towards the floor and extend the remaining toes up in the air. Maintain this position and try and tap the floor with the toes. Do this step for about 10 times and then reverse the position such that now the big toe is pointing up and other toes are pointing down and do this about 10 times.
Manual Stretch Exercise For Hammer Toes
An individual can stretch the toes of the affected foot by using a towel to lengthen the muscles. To do this exercise, the individual needs to sit on the floor with the legs straight and in front. Now, wrap a towel under the toes and gently apply pressure in a backward direction and hold for about half a minute. Hands can also be used to pull the toes back.
Toe Roll Exercise For Hammer Toes
To do this exercise, the individual needs to stand barefoot on a flat surface. Lift all the toes off the ground at the same time and then roll them down one at a time starting from the little toe to the big toe. Do this about 12 times and then change directions.
Toe Squeeze Exercise For Hammer Toes
This exercise is usually done in a seated position. To do this exercise, place the foot over the thigh at a position which is comfortable. Slide the fingers in between the toes and then squeeze the toes together such that the fingers are pinched. Now, release the toes and repeat this exercise about 12 times. If it is difficult to do this for all toes together it is preferable to start with one toe at a time and gradually go up.