Best Ways to Prevent Hammertoe

Best Ways to Prevent Hammertoe

Some of the most common foot problems are also the most preventable. That includes hammertoe, a condition that makes your toe bend instead of laying flat when it’s relaxed. While that might not seem like a big deal, especially at first, as hammertoe worsens the toe can rub uncomfortably in shoes. Hammertoe can cause blisters and stiffness in the affected toe. Ultimately, it’s a situation you probably want to avoid.

Fortunately, you most likely can. William T. DeCarbo, DPM, FACFAS, specializes in hammertoe treatment and prevention. If you suspect you might be on your way to hammertoe problems or you want to employ podiatry best practices to avoid this and other foot issues, talk to our team. At Greater Pittsburgh Foot & Ankle Center in Wexford, Pennsylvania, Dr. DeCarbo and our knowledgeable staff can help you implement the most effective prevention tactics available today. 

Understanding hammertoe

As with many things, the first step to preventing hammertoe is understanding it. You get hammertoe because a problem develops with the ligaments, tendons, or muscles that should hold your toe straight.

This can stem from a traumatic injury, like breaking the toe. In many cases, though, the strain on the muscles, ligaments, and tendons comes from shoe choices the individual makes. Squeezing your foot into a shoe that doesn’t have sufficient room for your toes taxes the toe. Over time, wearing bad shoes can cause so much strain on the toe’s muscles and connective tissues that the hammertoe develops.

At first, hammertoe can usually be easily corrected. But if you let it go unchecked, the affected ligaments, tendons, and muscles can become rigid, leaving you with a permanent hammertoe. 

Preventing hammertoe with shoes, stretches, and strengthening 

As you can probably guess from what we’ve explained so far, shoes play a big role in hammertoe prevention. 

To avoid hammertoe, never squeeze your feet into shoes that are too small. Similarly, check that the toe box of your footwear has ample width for your toes. They shouldn’t feel squished or cramped in your shoe. Make sure they can all lay flat and have at least a half-inch of space from the front of the shoe. 

Pointed-toe shoes and high heels can be blamed for a lot of hammertoe cases. Avoid these shoe types if you can. If you do need to wear high heels (say, for work), choose a lower heel and talk to our team. 

We can fit you with orthotics (customized shoe inserts) to help to protect your feet and your toes. We can also teach you stretching and strengthening exercises to keep your toes laying flat. 

In short, we can help you prevent hammertoe. To talk with Dr. DeCarbo about the right shoes for your feet, plus additional support like orthotics or foot exercises, get in touch. Call our office or book your appointment online today.