Walk It Off: How Footwear Can Help Your Hammertoes

hammertoe footwear prevention

Hammertoe, which is a condition that can affect all toes except your big toes, can cause one or both joints in a toe to bend upward and give your toe the appearance of a claw.

Studies show that footwear can play a significant role in the development of hammertoe. Wearing shoes that are too tight or have an overly narrow toe box ― the frontmost part of the shoe ― can misalign the joints in your toe and contribute to the development of hammertoe. Many people who have hammertoe get this condition because they regularly choose poor-fitting shoes.

At Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center in Laveen, Arizona, Kyle Durfey, DPM, and Brian Hiapo, DPM, can help you make good shoe choices so you can go wherever your day takes you without foot pain.

Getting the right shoes

While poor-fitting shoes are to blame for many hammertoe cases, good shoes can help relieve pain. The secret is to choose the right shoes. Steer clear of shoes that are too small ― even if only slightly ― or have a pointed toe. This is especially important if you wear high heels, which can put excess pressure on your toes.

Dr. Hiapo and Dr. Durfey have a few recommendations that can guide you in choosing the best shoes for your feet. Generally, you should look for shoes that are:

Sufficiently long

There should be at least half an inch between your longest toe and the end of the shoe’s toe box.


Walk around the store in the shoes you’re considering before buying them to make sure your foot is well-supported. 


When your foot is in the shoe, you shouldn’t feel any rubbing at the top or sides of the toe box.

Simply swapping out your tight shoes for ones that meet the guidelines above can make a big difference, especially if you start making good shoe choices early in your hammertoe’s development.

Getting treatment

To bring you even greater pain relief and to help your toe heal, Dr. Durfey and Dr. Hiapo can also fit your shoes with orthotics. These are shoe inserts that our team makes to ensure that none of your toe joints experience too much pressure.

Beyond shoes and orthotic inserts, Dr. Hiapo and Dr. Durfey may also recommend exercises to strengthen and stretch your foot, taping to support it, or medicated injections to relieve pain. If your hammertoe continues to give you trouble, they may also recommend surgery. 

If you have hammertoe and want more guidance on choosing the right shoes, getting orthotics, or other ways to find relief, book an appointment online or over the phone with Arizona Foot and Ankle Medical Center today.

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