Hammertoe is a painful deformity of the second, third, or fourth toes that can make it difficult to function. Hammertoe is caused by a muscle imbalance that puts pressure on the toe joints and tendons, often due to having flat feet, certain genetic conditions, wearing high heels, or not stretching your feet.
At Foot and Ankle Wellness Center in Washington, DC, Dr. Ijeoma Nwuju, DPM, provides the following advice to help prevent hammertoe.
Wear the right shoes
The first and best way to avoid hammertoe is by wearing the right shoes. It’s a good idea to avoid shoes that pinch your toes or restrict your feet too much.
Wearing ill-fitting shoes causes the toe bones to push against each other unnaturally, forcing the middle joint upward. High heels are the leading cause of hammertoe for women, as they put extra pressure on the toes and pinch them inward.
Properly fitting shoes offer good arch support and will never cause pain.
Shop for shoes at the right time of the day
While the time you shop for shoes may not seem important, it plays a role in choosing the right-sized shoes. Throughout the day, your feet swell slightly, reaching their largest halfway through the day. Thus, shopping later in the day lets you choose shoes that always fit you properly.
Stretch your toes
Another excellent way to avoid hammertoe is by doing daily foot and toe exercises. They take little time to do and go a long way toward preventing hammertoe from occurring.
Some of the best exercises for a hammertoe include:
- Moving your toes individually
- Curling your toes under your feet as far as you can
- Picking up small objects with your toes
- Splaying your toes apart from each other
- Extending your toes outward
You can do the exercises at any time of the day that works for you.
Do regular foot checks
Your feet are under daily stress and strain from walking, running, jumping, and anything else you do that utilizes your feet. However, you’re unlikely to check them regularly unless something is immediately wrong.
Like any other body part, giving yourself regular foot checks is important. Just feeling the different toes and parts of the foot for abnormalities can help catch issues like hammertoe before they become serious.
If you’ve been prescribed orthotics for another foot problem, make sure you wear them!
Not only will it help with your other foot problems, but it can also often help prevent a hammertoe from developing.
If you have a hammertoe or believe you may be developing one, contact us at our Washington, DC, office or schedule an appointment online today.