Closeup of a foot with hammer toe

Hammer Toe Exercises


Body Part:
Foot 

Equipment:
Osteopressure Tool Set & Mini Massage Ball

Level:
Beginner

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Roland Liebscher-Bracht

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Try Our Hammer Toe Exercises to Straighten Your Bent Toe

Hammer toe is a foot deformity where one – or in some cases more –  of your toes is bent downward at the middle joint, giving it the appearance of a hammer head. Although hammer toe can develop in any of your toes, the condition most commonly occurs in the second, third or fourth toes.

Your toes are made up of bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints. These structures work together so you can bend and straighten your toes. Each toe except for your big toe has three joints: the metatarsophalangeal (at the base of your toe), the proximal interphalangeal (in the middle of your toe), and the distal phalangeal (closest to the toenail.) Hammer toe is the result of an imbalance in the structures surrounding your proximal interphalangeal joint. One of the most common causes of this imbalance is wearing shoes that are too tight. Footwear that is too narrow or has a heel that is too high can squeeze your toes into a bent position. If your toes stay in this formation for a long period of time, the surrounding muscles contract. After a while, you may find it difficult (or even impossible) to straighten your toe. 

Other causes of hammer toe are:

  • Bunions 
  • Arthritis 
  • an injury to the toe

You may be at a higher risk of developing hammer toe if you have flat feet or longer toe bones.

Signs that you have hammer toe include:

  • a toe that is bent downward at the middle joint,
  • pain in your metatarsophalangeal joint,
  • difficulty straightening your affected toe,
  • calluses, corns, or blisters,
  • swelling,
  • difficulty walking.

We’ve developed exercises for hammer toes that can lengthen the shortened muscles and tendons so you can straighten your toe and walk without foot pain. To perform our routine, all you need is our mini massage ball and the spherical handle with the rounded attachment from our Osteopressure tool set.

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Get the tools you need for your hammer toe.

Discover our full range of tools and products that relieve pain and buy your mini massage ball and Osteopressure set in our online shop.

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Fight Pain with Information.

Roland Liebscher-Bracht is performing a pain-free exercise.

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An icon with a scale, demonstrating the pain level of a person  Your Personal Pain Scale

While you are exercising, pay attention to your personal pain scale. This is your body's gauge that measures the intensity at which you exercise from 1 to 10. One would be like pushing your finger into your forehead. You'd feel a little pressure, but that's it. You've gone above a 10 if your breathing becomes irregular or you feel yourself tense up. For each exercise, aim for an intensity between 8 and 9. If you find that you are experiencing pain that's higher than 9, reduce the intensity so you can continue exercising without pain.

Part 1 — TOE StretchES


A woman is stretching her toes

Exercise 1: Toe Flexion

    • Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
    • Place your affected foot on top of your opposite leg just under your knee.
    • Grab your toes and bend them towards your heel.
    • You’ll feel a stretch along the top of your foot into your toes.
    • Bend your toes until you reach between 8 and 9 on your personal pain scale.
    • Hold for 2 minutes.
    • Slowly release your toes and repeat on the other foot if necessary.
    A woman is bending her toes toward her knee.

    Exercise 2: Toe Extension

    • Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
    • Place your affected foot on top of your opposite leg just under your knee.
    • Grab your toes and gently pull them back towards your knee until you feel a stretch along the ball of your foot into your toes.
    • Pull until you reach between 8 and 9 on your personal pain scale and hold the stretch for 2 minutes.
    • Slowly release your toes and repeat on the other foot if necessary.

    Part 2 — Foam Roll massage


    A woman is massaging her sore foot with a massage ball.

    Exercise 1: Sole Foam Roll Massage

    For this exercise, you’ll need our mini massage ball.

    • Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
    • Slide your affected foot back until your leg is bent at a 45° angle.
    • Place the mini massage ball under your affected foot and make small circular movements on the sole.
    • When you reach a tender spot, apply extra pressure and roll until the tension is gone.
    • Roll for about 2 minutes.
    • Repeat on the other foot if necessary.
    A woman is standing on the mini foam roller massaging the sole of her foot.

    Variation

    You can also perform the Sole Foam Roll Massage standing up with the mini foam roller. Place the mini foam roller under your affected foot and follow the above instructions.

    Part 3 — osteopressure therapy

    A woman is using the spherical handle to perform Osteopressure on her foot.

    Osteopressure Exercise

    For this exercise, you’ll need the spherical handle with the rounded attachment from our Osteopressure Tool Set.

    • Sit in a chair and rest your affected foot on top of your knee.
    • Gently poke the sole of your foot with the spherical handle. When you discover a tender spot, press the area until you reach between 8 and 9 on your personal pain scale.
    • Press for about 30 seconds.
    • Continue poking around the sole and pressing tender areas until you’ve covered your entire foot.
    • Finish and repeat on the other foot if necessary.

    Hammer Away!

    We recommend performing our hammer toe exercises for an initial sprint of 6 days a week with one day for rest. When you notice that it’s easier to straighten your toe and you’re walking without pain, adjust the frequency of your exercising as you see fit.

    Our Tip: Wear Proper Fitting Shoes.

    Chose comfortable footwear that’s supportive and leaves enough room for the movements of your toes. Your feet will thank you.

    Fight Pain with Information.

    Roland Liebscher-Bracht is performing a pain-free exercise.

    Subscribe to The Pain Relief Advisor

    Sign up for our free newsletter and discover how to manage your pain yourself. Every two weeks, we’ll deliver follow-along videos and articles to your inbox.

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