Have you noticed your toes are curving over and feel uncomfortable?
Are you not sure if they are hammer toes, claw toes, mallet toes or whatever toes?

A good way to find out if you have claw toes is by trying to straighten them. We will discuss how to treat claw toes once we can identify if we have them or not.

If you can straighten them with your hand and all toes elongate out then these are claw toes. If they don’t straighten and always stay bent over then these are either hammer toes or mallet toes.

Mallet toes are when the end tip is the only bit bent over and cannot straighten.

Claw toes are something we see often at SO Podiatry so you are not alone. This can be caused by poorly fitting shoes where your toes do not have enough room so they naturally start to curve under. This can also be caused by certain medical conditions affecting the nerve in your leg and foot and causing the small muscles and ligaments to become lazy and not work properly.

Mostly, it is caused by your biomechanics (how your foot and limb move) – perhaps your big toe is actually shorter than the rest of your toes – thus leaving it hard to push off the ground, as your heel lifts off the ground your toes may want to grip – hence clawing. If your feet pronate more than they need to it can cause dysfunction in the forefoot muscles and they grip early to help lift you off the ground- thus clawing.

Note: Claw toes can go on to become Hammer toes (where one or more of the small joints in your toes become fixed/stiffened and not straightened). Exercising your toes can help prevent hammer toe deformities.

Here are some top tips for you to try at home and some exercises that can help strengthen the small muscles in your forefoot and toes to help straighten the toes again.

Sitting on a chair:

Using a wide resistance band, place your foot on the band and with your hand pull the band gently up towards you (keep your foot relaxed and your toes will come up with the band).

Now with the band staying on the same tension, push your toes down into the band lengthening them as you go and hold at the bottom for 3 seconds before relaxing and repeating 10-15 times.

The trick is to keep to the resistance so you feel the toes working and the muscles firing up and keep your heel on the ground.

This wonderful video explains it well

Using a piece of kitchen roll on the floor:

With your bare foot place the front of your foot onto the edge of the tissue. Now widen and lengthen your toes to grip the tissue and pull it towards you scrunching the tissue and holding tight for 3 seconds.

Repeat this continuously for up to 60 seconds and repeat on each foot x3 times.

Don’t worry if you get a cramp in your foot- it’s a sign that your foot is working hard, this will get easier the more you repeat it.

Here’s a really helpful video

Get your feet measured by a podiatrist:

Shoe size is a guide and you should always try shoes on before you buy them to make sure they fit properly.

Knowing your shoe size is a great place to start.
We can do this in the clinic for you if you ask your podiatrist on your next visit.

Wear an accommodating shoe:

By this we mean keeping the high heels to a minimum. High heels often force your toes into the small space at the front of the shoe and combined with body weight coming through the forefoot your toes are under a lot of stress. Wearing flatter shoes can help give the toes space and less pressure.

Speak to a Podiatrist:

We’d love to speak with you in the clinic, either about toe props or foot orthotics as these can help the foot mechanics thus reducing the way that the toes claw.

We hope this blog has helped, and if you would like further help and support with claw toes or any other foot problems please get in touch.