Watching a ballerina move gracefully on stage is an amazing thing when you realize that she is most likely affected with hammer toe, corns, calluses, bunions and a lot of pain in her feet and toes. She’ll spend at least half an hour after the performance nursing her feet out of pain by soaking them in a cold foot bath just to decrease the inflammation.
It’s the unnatural act of stuffing one’s feet into an unsupported shoe that’s usually too tight that can be a culprit in the development of hammer toe in a ballerina. And you’ll never hear a ballerina ask the question, what is hammer toe? She feels that she could probably lecture to a class at a podiatry school about the topic, and provide plenty of firsthand info.
What Is Hammer Toe Exactly?
Usually if you’re asking the question, what is hammer toe, you don’t have the condition. A hammer toe is a toe that literally becomes shaped like a hammer. The big toe and smallest 5th toe are rarely affected, but the other toes are commonly seen affected. And ballerinas aren’t the only ones at risk of developing a hammer toe.
Hammer toes develop from squeezing the toes together, which forces the muscles into a contracted position – one that looks like a hammer. The more often the squeezing is repeated, the more the toes tighten until they can’t relax anymore. Without any hammer toe treatment, toes are permanently bent into the deformed position.
Some foot experts believe that people with flexible hammer toes – ones that haven’t become permanently deformed – can be significantly relieved. They say that the answer is to strengthen the anterior tibial muscles – the shin bone muscles which allow you to bring your toes upwards towards the sky from a flat footed position. A physical therapist might do this type of strengthening exercise when the foot is supinated (when the outer part of the foot rolls to try to get the bottom of the foot to face the sky.
The experts say that this makes a big difference in the condition. It’s possible, if they are right, that hammer toes could be caused by muscle imbalances, and although squeezing the toes together hard can contribute to their formation, it’s possible that many other foot conditions are the result of muscle imbalances.
Symptoms of Hammer Toes
The obvious sign of hammer toe is the deformity itself. But along with the deformity, you can have these symptoms:
1. Pain in the affected toe
2. Redness in the affected toe
3. Swelling around the joint
4. Stiffness in the toe joints
5. Difficulty walking; abnormal gait
6. Difficulty finding shoes that fit
7. Corns and calluses
How to Consciously Create Hammer Toes
There are four sure ways to end up with hammer toes.
1. Wear high heels which compress the toes, and wear them all day long.
2. Wear tight shoes for long periods of time.
3. Wear the narrowest shoes you have in your closet, and do it often. Don’t let pain stop you!
4. Never see a podiatrist when you have foot pain, especially when your toes look like little hammers.
Arthritis also may be a cause of hammer toes. And diabetics with a condition called peripheral neuropathy where they lose feeling of their feet also develop the condition more frequently than the non-diabetic population. They can’t feel the tightness in the toes when the toes contract.
A Little Hammer Toe Can’t Possibly Cause Anything Else To Go Wrong
If you believe the above statement, unfortunately you are wrong.
If hammer toes are allowed to progress, they can end up causing an abnormal gait which can lead to other problems with the body in the knee, hip and back. The body is all connected together so when one part suffers, the other parts try to make up for the pain, creating new imbalances. So if you have hammer toes, now is the time to do something about them.
One other big problem with hammer toes is that it becomes difficult to find shoes that fit a foot with hammer toes.
PICTURE: BUNION PIC WITH CORN
Another major issue is that because the toe is elevated in one part, that elevated part becomes more prone to develop a callus or a corn or a blister. Hammer toes are especially a problem for those with diabetes because corns will easily grow on top of a hammer toe or on the tip of the curving toe.
Ways To Relieve And Treat Hammer Toe
There are things you can do TODAY to relieve your hammer toe. And why not get started since pain really isn’t a fun thing to deal with in life. If you can relieve one type of pain in your body this month, and another pain next month, you will only begin to feel better and better as time goes on.
Here are the ways to relieve pain of hammer toes:
1. Metatarsal pads and ball of foot pads are an important part of the treatment for hammer toes. These support the transverse metatarsal arch of the foot. See the picture of what this arch looks like. Metatarsal pads are worn under the ball of the foot. People who have pain under the ball of the foot find relief from them.
Ball of foot pads and hammer toe cushions relieve pressure and can straighten the toes.
PICTURE: SPENCO GEL INSOLES
2. Spenco Gel Comfort Insoles are full length insoles that support three parts of the foot: the heel, medial arch, and metatarsals. It’s possible that Spenco Gel Comfort Insoles could eliminate the need for metatarsal pads or ball of foot pads, since they are built into this insole. The metatarsal arch support is great because now you’ll feel less pressure on the balls of your feet. And the heel support absorbs a majority of the impact when your foot first hits the ground for a new step.
And since they are filled with gel that softens your steps, Spenco Gel Comfort Insoles could make you feel like you’re walking on clouds. By the way, while you’re literally up in heaven, you don’t have to worry about smelly feet because the antimicrobial top cloth keeps fighting foot bacteria and without bacteria, there is no smell.
As you can see, the purpose of Spenco Gel Comfort insoles is to redistribute your weight upon walking inside your shoe. Insoles can make a big difference when there are biomechanical problems of the feet.
3. Wear wide shoes that give your toes room! No more squeezing them into small spaces.
4. Stretch those tight muscles of your lower leg.
5. Consider surgery. In surgery, the doctor will cut the tendons that are keeping the toe in that hammer position or re-align the bones into their correct position. He may also opt to cut 1/16th of an inch of bone off the deformed joints so the bones will align straight. It takes about 60 days to recover from the surgery. However, with newer techniques, minimal incisions are made that only need two stitches. Some techniques even allow patients to get back to normal activities the same day after they had surgery.
6. Extra-depth shoes allow room for the hammer toe.
The Arches Of The Feet And Hammer Toe Relief
New information reveals that it’s possible that all three arches of the foot could be potentially important to someone with hammer toes.
Hammer toes found on the 2nd and 3rd toes could get a little extra special care if a five degree medial forefoot wedge is added to support the area of the medial longitudinal arch, according to orthotics experts.
And hammer toes found on the 4th and 5th toes could get a little extra special care if a five degree lateral forefoot wedge or lateral hind foot wedge is added to the shoe to support the area of the lateral longitudinal arch, according to the same experts.
The slight elevation of the foot from the wedge on the arch closest to the hammer toes is another simple way to get a little extra relief.
But while you’re searching for someone who could possibly help out with the wedges, it’s time to get busy with the metatarsal pads, ball of foot pads or Spenco Gel Comfort Insoles for the heavenly feeling your feet deserve.
One way you can get pain relief for arthritis of the foot is a way that not many people consider initially – arthritic insoles.
Most of the time, people will think immediately of these pain relief methods:
• Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
• Vitamins and minerals
As you most likely know, aspirin is not a good choice because it leaves you open to experience side effects – and one of them is internal hemorrhaging. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can also weaken the intestinal lining leaving you susceptible to hemorrhaging and ulcers, and the interesting part is that the hemorrhaging can creep up on you suddenly without any symptoms at all. Suddenly one day you simply pass out because you lost far too much blood from internal hemorrhaging.
Vitamins and minerals can certainly help for arthritis but often they take awhile before you start seeing results. Phytonutrients are the nutrients found in plants that have beneficial actions inside the body. The problem with them is that there are thousands of them; how do you know which ones to choose unless you’re an expert in nutrition? Do you just start experimenting with them one by one? How many dozens will it take to find one that benefits your arthritis of the foot? And how much will it cost? Will you have to continue taking it day after day for the rest of your life?
Arthritic insoles provide almost instantaneous pain relief. They are similar to someone who is having trouble walking – and that person then gets a cane or a walker. The relief is immediate. Once you put the arthritic insoles into your shoes, you can begin to feel the support to your feet.
Here are three arthritic insoles that are available right now for you at www.TheInsoleStore.com:
1. Prothotics Comfort Gel Insole
These are made for foot pain relief and are hand washable. They are hypoallergenic so those who are sensitive to different ingredients can still wear them. You’ll find extra support in the heels, good for those who have Achilles tendonitis. These also fit into shoes with deep toe boxes.
2. Prothotics Diasole Insole
If you have foot deformities, it helps to have arthritic insoles that are heat moldable. These arthritic insoles are heat moldable and orthopedically made, with total support of your feet in mind.
3. New Balance Pressure Relief Insoles
Arthritic insoles are constructed in such a way as to help redistribute your weight and reduce the pressure on affected joints. These are one of the arthritic insoles on the market that will do exactly that. They conform to the shape of your feet and are heat moldable. These arthritic insoles have a deep heel cup with additional padding to keep your heel comfortable as well. Plus, they are ‘air-conditioned’ insoles – ones with air flow channels built into them that allow air circulation.
Arthritic insoles are the fastest way to get pain relief.
Gel sandals aren’t out yet, but they could very well be the next type of sandals on the stores of The Insole Store and online. Why not? When you wear gel insoles, your feet are cushioned so much from the environment. They make you feel as if you’re walking on a cloud. Any and all foot pain disappears with gel insoles.
Gel sandals could come in handy when you’re on the beach. Have you ever walked barefoot on the beach and suddenly found yourself screaming out in pain because you walked right on top of a jagged rock you didn’t see coming ahead? Ouch! That hurts.
If you had gel sandals, the gel in the sandals would neutralize the feeling of the jagged edges of the rock. Imagine that. You’d probably never have another bad foot day in your life.
In order for a footwear company to create gel sandals, they still have a lot of work to do. They’ll have to invent a type of gel material that acts like gel but is lightweight. The process would probably be similar to the development of EVA foam. EVA foam is used in many different types of insoles and orthotics on the market now. It’s not a hard plastic type of foam that is too hard and causes problems when you walk on it; instead EVA foam is more flexible yet durable. It is also lightweight.
The big question is who is secretly developing gel sandals right now that we don’t know about. Hint: It’s probably not the Russians! Do you think it will be Superfeet? They’ve been one of the forerunners to all types of different orthotics and shoe inserts as well as insoles. Or do you think it will be Birkenstock? They’ve been around the longest – since the early 1900s.
Or maybe the secret technology of gel sandals will come from the Germans at the Pedagcompany. Pedag emphasizes all natural ingredients and perhaps has already found a way to meld the softness of wool and fleece with the gel like material found in the body in joints. Connective tissue of the joints contains a mucopolysaccharide type of material that perhaps could be somehow duplicated. Or maybe the natural substance to use is gelatin itself. It’s easy enough to find in nature. And if anyone would be on the hunt for a natural substance, it would be Pedag.
[caption id="attachment_7460" align="alignright" width="160"] Pedag[/caption]
Or perhaps someone at NASA already knows about a substance found on the surface of the moon that has gel-like properties, and that could be what some companies are experimenting with in their advanced technology laboratories right now as we ‘speak’.
If you’re following the shoe industry materials as closely as you follow the most expensive shoe lines such as those seen on the television show, Sex and The City, then you’ll be among the first to know what’s happening. The next question is will gel sandals be the next thing to invest in? If they’re so comfortable, would it pay off later to invest in it?
Gel sandals are the next up and coming sandals. Get ready for them.
It’s not your fault you have plantar fasciitis. You may have had this foot condition for quite some time now, and it’s a perplexing thing to have to go through. You do everything your medical doctor tells you to do, but still you can get no relief. You take the painkillers and they work temporarily, but you notice you are depending on them for far too long. You even read an article lately about how painkillers are only supposed to be used for short periods of time, yet this 5th bottle of painkillers already puts you way past the ‘short periods of time’ limit.
Why is this happening to you? Why won’t this plantar fasciitis go away?
The answer is because the approach to plantar fasciitis is incorrect. The painkillers only remove the sensation of pain temporarily, never addressing the cause. A podiatrist is the correct health professional to schedule an appointment with, not a medical doctor. If you checked around with medical schools, you’ll be amazed that medical doctors don’t even take one course in diagnosis and treatment of foot disorders. However, a podiatrist is the health practitioner who specializes in feet and the disorders of feet. He takes courses for four years on feet, starting with anatomy, biomechanics, ergonomics, x-ray, diseases of the foot, pathology of foot disorders… the list goes on and on.
So now you know that step 1 in finding any health solution is actually to go to the correct health professional.
When you do go to the podiatrist, he will explain that plantar fasciitis is often caused by a fallen arch. Once the arch falls, the foot turns inward as you walk, collapsing in the process. Since the plantar fascia is what holds the foot together, the collapse of the arch now tears parts of the plantar fascia. Inflammation sets in and before you know it, you can’t seem to eliminate the pain.
That is until you get some plantar fasciitis insoles. These are awesome because they will lift your arch of the foot up high where it’s supposed to be. Good plantar fasciitis insoles will also align your foot bones perfectly so you can’t walk with them collapsing. This takes the stress and strain off the plantar fascia and now it has a chance to heal.
Here’s one of the good plantar fasciitis insoles that can be found at www.TheInsoleStore.com
Sof Sole Plantar Fasciitis Orthotic Insoles
It’s a ¾ length Orthotic (plantar fasciitis insole) and can support those with a flat foot, low arches, neutral arches, and high arches. (They come in different versions for each of these types of arches.) The arch support is sturdy. There’s also a gel heel pad for the relief of heel spur pain relief.
Because it’s ¾ length, it will fit into athletic shoes, casual shoes, and maybe even some shoes with heels. You may even be able to use these Sof Sole Plantar fasciitis insoles in dress shoes.
The key to eliminating plantar fasciitis pain is to find the best plantar fasciitis insoles for your feet. Ask your podiatrist for a recommendation, and shop around for others if the first one doesn’t work. You will find your solution, as plantar fasciitis is a mechanical problem, not a drug deficiency problem!
If you’re a runner, you know that your professional running insoles can easily outlast your running shoes. The lightweight running shoes are the worst when it comes to lasting a long time; some of these will only last 200 to 300 miles. That means if you’re running 10 miles a day four days a week, you’ll need a new pair of shoes in 5 to 8 weeks!
Heavier running shoes will last anywhere from 300 to 500 miles, and you’ll need a new pair of shoes in 8 weeks to 13 weeks. Meanwhile, the professional running insoles such as the Superfeet Green Premium Insoles and Spenco Total Support insoles will last at least 6 months, if not a year. Other running insoles that are well made include the following:
• Spenco Ironman Race Performance Insoles – These are great as running insoles because the Ironman includes a lot of running. These running insoles are built to improve energy return, which means making the muscles of the feet work at their optimal capacity and not a bit more. Thus, you end up saving energy in the process. They include motion control so that overpronation is wiped out. There’s 0.24 inches thickness at the heel and 0.15 inches at the forefoot and a nice metatarsal dome on these running insoles. The dome can help you prevent too much stress on the ball of your feet. Find out more here: http://www.theinsolestore.com/spenco-ironman-race-insoles.html
• Spenco Total Support Original Insoles – These control pronation as well; thus, they are a little better than the average running insoles. However, if you don’t overpronate your feet while walking or running, then it’s not an issue at all. These Spenco Total Support running insoles also have a feature called the Reverse Motions Extension that assists in propulsion. Here’s a link for you to check out: http://www.theinsolestore.com/spenco-total-support-original-insoles.html
• CurrexSole RunPro Insoles – Low, Medium or High Arch – These have an advantage of sensor gels beneath the heel and big toe. This allows the foot to gain momentum in propelling itself forward from the big toe. These have a one-year unconditional guarantee. The link to check out is http://www.theinsolestore.com/currexsole-runpro-insoles-low-arch-footdiscs.html
• New Balance Pressure Relief Insoles - The most unique thing about these insoles is that they have custom made air flow channels built into them that are essentially like air conditioning. They also contain a Plastazote top coat, which is body heat moldable. They conform to the shape of your feet. All New Balance insoles are EVA, PVC and Latex free. They are for diabetics and those who may have peripheral neuropathy. The link to find out more is: http://www.theinsolestore.com/new-balance-pressure-relief-insoles-ipr3020-1.html
When it comes to running insoles for men with large feet, Superfeet Green Premium insoles may be purchased up to shoe size 17. Spenco Total Support Original Insoles are available in up to shoe size 15. Everyone has running insoles options, and these are some of the best to be found.