Hammer toes occur when the middle joint of the second, third, or fourth toes bends in an upward position, creating a claw-like or hammer look. Hammer toes are not a serious condition, but they can become quite painful, causing shooting pains and discomfort throughout your toes and feet, and soreness where the toe rubs the inside of the shoe. They can develop at any age, even adolescence.
There are a number of treatment options for hammer toes, including surgery, but you can also do these 5 exercises at home to reduce your discomfort (but they won’t cure the hammer toe). The reason that normal toes become hammer toes is due to muscles and tendons tightening and pulling the toe into an upward position. Relieving this tension via stretching exercises which pull the muscles in the opposite direction, can work wonders for alleviating pain.
1. Toe Stretch
Sitting on the floor with your legs straight head of you, wrap a bath towel under your toes, and pull towards you so just the toes move. Hold for 30 seconds. This may also be done with your hands.
2. Toe Taps
Sit on a chair and remove your sock. Extend your big toe down toward the floor while at the same time extending the rest of your toes up in the air. Hold for 10 seconds and then lightly tap the floor with your toes 12 times. Then reverse your toe position so the big toe is pointed up and the remaining toes pointing down. Repeat.
3. Toe Crunches
Sit on a chair barefoot. Place a bath towel on the floor and place the upper half of your foot on top of the towel. While keeping your heel flat on the ground, crunch the towel up with your toes. Release and repeat 12 times.
4. Toe Squeeze
Sitting in a chair, place your foot over your thigh. Slide your fingers in between your toes and squeeze your toes together, as if to pinch your fingers. Release and repeat 12 times.
5. Toe Rolls
Toe Rolls are not pastries – they’re an exercise similar to when you tap your fingers from side to side on a table. Stand barefoot on a flat surface. Lift all of your toes upwards off the ground together, then roll them down one at a time from the little toe to the big toe. Repeat 12 times, then change directions.