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Tips for Preventing Hammertoe

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Tips for Preventing Hammertoe

When your toes decide to take on a permanent curling position, it’s no laughing matter. This condition, known as hammertoe, can cause discomfort, pain, and difficulty wearing certain types of shoes. However, there are steps you can take to prevent this from happening in the first place — and from getting worse. 

Board-certified podiatrist Scott Shields, DPM, and our dedicated team at Total Foot and Ankle in Enid, Oklahoma, specialize in treating toe deformities such as hammertoes. We understand how hammertoes can affect your comfort and quality of life, and we’re committed to providing expert care to relieve pain and restore proper toe alignment. 

In the meantime, we’ll explore some practical tips to help you keep your toes healthy and prevent hammertoe. 

Wear properly fitted shoes 

First and foremost, it’s important to prioritize wearing the right shoes. Shoes that fit well and provide adequate support are essential for preventing hammertoe. Here’s what we recommend: 

Choose the right size 

Always prioritize choosing shoes that are the correct size and fit comfortably without rubbing or squeezing your toes. 

Opt for wide-toe box shoes 

Shoes with a wide toe box help your toes move more freely and prevent crowding.  

Avoid high heels 

Limit the amount of time you spend wearing high heels or narrow-toed shoes. These can force your toes into an unnatural position and increase the risk of hammertoe.

Maintain healthy foot mechanics 

When it comes to finding long-term solutions for preventing the development of hammertoe and reducing the strain on your toes, proper foot mechanics make a world of difference. Consider the following tips:

Practice toe exercises

Perform exercises to strengthen and stretch your toe muscles. You can do this in a few different ways, such as picking up marbles with your toes or gently stretching them with your hands. 

Avoid crossing your legs 

This may come as a surprise, but crossing your legs can actually put pressure on your toes and contribute to the development of hammertoe. Instead, try sitting with both feet flat on the ground whenever possible. 

Pay attention to your walking pattern 

Be mindful of how you walk and avoid gripping the ground with your toes. Instead, focus on distributing your weight evenly across your feet. 

Maintain a healthy weight 

Beyond reducing the strain on your feet, maintaining a healthy weight has a range of benefits that can improve your overall quality of life. In this case, here are some tips for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and lowering your risk of hammertoe: 

Eat a balanced diet 

When in doubt, prioritize a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to support your overall health and weight management. 

Stay active 

Pencil in time for regular physical activity to help you manage your weight and strengthen your muscles, including those in your feet, while you’re at it. 

Monitor portion sizes 

Pay attention to portion sizes and avoid overeating to prevent unnecessary weight gain. 

Practice proper foot care

Last but not least, taking care of your feet is essential for preventing foot conditions like hammertoe and any other issues you’d rather avoid. Here are a few tips and habits you can include in your daily routine to help: 

Inspect your feet regularly 

Check your feet for any signs of redness, swelling, or changes in appearance, and consult with Dr. Shields if you notice anything unusual. 

Keep your feet clean and dry 

We highly recommend washing your feet daily with mild soap and water, and drying them thoroughly, especially between your toes, to prevent any fungal infections. 

Trim your toenails carefully 

Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails, which can contribute to hammertoe. 

While hammertoe can certainly be uncomfortable and challenging to manage, we hope incorporating these tips into your lifestyle can help you avoid this common condition and keep your toes healthy for many years to come. 

If you have any concerns about your foot health, contact us at Total Foot and Ankle to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shields today!