Howard County Foot & Ankle

What is Hammertoe and How Do You Avoid It?

Foot & Ankle Insights
How to Avoid Hammertoe

Hammertoes are a common foot condition, especially in women. This might sound like a minor cosmetic issue but its effects extend beyond appearance. It can cause pain and balance problems.

This can be pretty difficult to deal with, especially if your daily life requires you to wear shoes and move on your feet a lot.

The good news is that hammertoes are not something you are born with. If you want to prevent the development of this deformity, here’s what you need to know about it.

Hammertoe Causes

Causes of Hammertoe

Hammertoe is a deformity that typically affects the middle joints of the second, third, or fourth toes, resulting in the affected part getting into a hammer-like shape. It occurs because of an imbalance in the toe muscles that cause a strain in the affected part.

To visualize what a hammertoe looks like, your middle toes have three joints. Imagine that one of them is bent at the middle joint. This would not be a problem if you do not have the deformity because you can simply straighten it. However, this condition prevents you from doing so.

Things to Do to Avoid Developing Hammertoes

The thing about this condition is that it develops over time, especially when your toes are exposed to risk factors repeatedly. If you do not have this deformity and you simply want to avoid it, here are some things you should not do.

  1. Not Exercising Your Toe Muscles

Exercising your muscles can help a lot in preventing all kinds of joint problems and this includes hammertoes. By doing so, you are enabling a more balanced muscle activity throughout your toes.

To exercise your toes, you can place a towel on the ground and try crumpling it using your toes. You can also try lifting it to further promote activity.

2. Wearing Shoes that are Too Tight

Aside from exercising your toes, you should be careful when picking shoes. You want to make sure that the shoes you wear have enough room to breathe no matter the activity you would be doing.

You see, tight shoes, especially those that get narrower at the top, force your toes to bend back to fit inside the closed space. This flexes the muscles and puts pressure on the toes. If you expect to wear such footwear for long periods, you will have trouble straightening it out after a while.

The best way to go is to get a pair that does not taper off at the toes. Instead, you should go for those with straps or laces, so you can easily adjust the fit to your liking.

Wearing High Heels

3. Wearing High-Heeled Shoes

The reason why hammertoe is more common in women is because one of their footwear options is heels. Those who frequently wear high-heeled shoes put pressure on their toes. A closed-toe pair with a narrowed shape not only forces your toe to bend and push up against the shoes.

This can further aggravate the condition by forming callouses and corn. If you want to avoid hammertoe, you might want to dial back on the high heels and get flatter heels.

Moreover, you might want to get orthotic devices to help create a more comfortable environment for your feet. There are lots of options for various purposes such as arch support, cushioning, and more.

The Bottom Line

Hammertoe is a preventable foot condition, and it is important to understand it. Now that you know more about this deformity and how to avoid developing it, you can do your best to take care of your feet and minimize the possibility of getting it.

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