Exercises for Hammer Toe

Friday, 7 August 2015  |  John

Hammer toes is where the joints of one or more of the lesser toes (the toes which aren’t your big toe) curl. They can be painful and tend to cause corns and calluses to form on the areas of the foot which hammer toes force to rub against the inside of shoes. 

They’re usually caused by a muscle/tendon imbalance, and if they’re left alone they can get worse; even to the point where they need surgery. However, there are some exercises you can do to help with hammer toes.

The Toe Tap

This is basically the same movement as tapping your fingers on a table, except you do it with your toes. 

  1. Stand on a flat surface with the affected foot (or feet) barefoot
  2. Lift all your toes off the ground together
  3. Roll them down one at a time, from the little toe inward
  4. Repeat 10 – 12 times
  5. Change direction and repeat again

Visit our Achilles Tendinitis Category to See More Insoles for Achilles Tendinitis

The Toe Spread

This involves spreading the affected toes to help them regain some of their individuality.

  1. While sitting, cross the leg of the affected foot over the other leg
  2. Put a finger between your hammer toe and the toe next to it
  3. Squeeze the finger with the toe
  4. Take your finger out
  5. Repeat 10 times

Perform this exercise at least once a day.

The Floor Grip

This exercise is mainly focused on the pads of your toes, and allows the affected joint to relax so the bone the closest to the main part of your foot can go back to a normal position.

  1. Stand on a flat surface with the affected foot (or feet) barefoot
  2. Stretch your toes out so they are as straight as possible
  3. Press the pads of your toes against the floor

This exercise can also be done in correctly fitting shoes if you prefer. If you can’t do the exercise in shoes, they’re too tight.

The Manual Stretch

This exercise may seem a little simplistic, but it can be really effective against hammer toes.

  1. While sitting, cross the leg of the affected foot over the other leg
  2. Place your fingers behind the toes at the first joint
  3. Pull them towards you and hold for several seconds
  4. Repeat for each joint

If you feel pain, stop pulling immediately.

Another way you can help with hammer toes is by wearing a shoe insole, which can help redistribute the weight of the foot and can help correct the muscle/tendon imbalance. If you’re interested in getting some shoe insoles to help with hammer toes, head on over to Shoe Insoles and check out our full range of Insoles for Hammer Toes.

  • Helps maintain position of the soft tissues of the toes
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  • Includes four adjustable lesser toe straps and one larger big toe strap

  • Prevents irritation on tips of toe
  • Alleviates pain when walking
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  • Conforms to any foot

  • Thermal insoles ideal for ski and cold weather sports
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  • Wide forefoot ideal for cold weather shoes
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