Q: My toes are clawed and look ugly in sandals. I’ve been told they are called ‘hammer toes’ and I wonder if there is any way to help ease the…
Helen Mary Perkins
Q: My toes are clawed and look ugly in sandals. I’ve been told they are called ‘hammer toes’ and I wonder if there is any way to help ease the condition and make them look more attractive?
A: What is it?
Toes help us balance when standing and form a grip or ‘push off’ when walking or running. The foot is a complex structure and hammer toes are usually the second to the fifth toes, formed when muscle and tendons are shortened or tightened, leading to structural change. The condition can also be inherited. Toes become stiff and wearing shoes is uncomfortable. Corns and calluses can form on the toes or balls of the feet - these may be hard or soft and in extreme cases can form open sores. The toes can be painful, red with a constant burning sensation.
Shoes which have pointed toes or are too short and high heels that force the toes to squash down to the end of the shoe. Instead wear roomy wider shoes and lower heels.
Chiropodists usually recommend foam pads to protect the toes from forming calluses and podiatrists can make orthotic devices or suggest gel pads to support the foot and help relax a shortened tendon. Medication may relieve pain and surgical splints are a last resort.
Complementary therapies look at the whole body in a different way rather than just the ankle and foot. For example Bowen Technique checks the lower back, hips, knees and heels first and has a procedure specifically for hammer toes. Strapping with an elastic adhesive bandage over the sole of the feet is also worn during the course of the treatment. Success can be achieved where the condition is in early stages - and new longer shoes have been bought!
The art of ‘foot reading’ suggests that claw or hammer toes indicate repressed feelings either through outside influences or the individual not wanting to show their true mind-set. Reflexology may be helpful, working on the toes to stimulate the meridian pathways that carry an invisible energy known as ‘chi’ in Chinese traditional medicine.
In addition, exercises such as curling and uncurling toes, stretching the muscles at the back of the legs (hamstrings) and front of the legs can help loosen tendons; a warm bath or foot soak using soda crystals to soothe and for detoxification while aromatherapy oils can help reduce inflammation.
For more information email Helen on firstname.lastname@example.org
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