Our feet play a vital part in our daily activities. Often we don’t pay much attention to them unless we experience foot pain.
Foot conditions like hammer toe can be painful and can limit your activity. When the toes are bent—like with hammer toes—it can lead to problems with balance and uneven weight distribution when we move.
In this article, we’ll cover how to tape a hammer toe to help relieve some of the pain that normally comes with this condition. Read on to find out how…
What is a Hammer Toe?
Hammer toe is a common foot condition, and it can occur in the second toe, third toe, or fourth toe.
The affected toe has an abnormal curve or a bend or at the proximal interphalangeal—middle—joint, and straightening the toe can be difficult. Even if you’re not wearing shoes, the toe will remain in a bent position and resembles a hammer.
It’s often caused by wearing shoes that are too narrow, too small, or by wearing high heels. This causes the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the toe to contract, bending the toe. Wearing shoes that don’t fit your foot well for an extended period of time will create a muscle imbalance, where the muscles are too weak to straighten the toe.
A person can be at a higher risk of developing hammer toes if they have diabetes, arthritis or if their second toe is longer than their big toe.
If you’ve had an injury to the foot, this would also put you at risk of developing hammer toe.
What are Hammer Toe Treatments?
One of the first things you should do to start treating your hammer toe is change your shoes.
Get shoes that have a wide and deep toe box, as this allows your toes to splay naturally and it will help to prevent the formation of calluses from the shoe rubbing against the toes. The shoe should have at least a half-inch of space between the longest toe and the front end of the shoe.
You can use kinesiology sports tape or toe tape bandages to tape the hammer toe. To relieve the pain, you can also use foot straps or place metatarsal pads in your shoes.
There are inserts that have built-in metatarsal support that you could try using in your shoes to help alleviate the painful symptoms of hammer toe. Or you can try special socks made for hammer toes.
To help reduce the pain, you can take over-the-counter pain medication. If the pain is severe, then your medical practitioner may give you a cortisone injection to provide pain relief.
Make sure that you stretch your toes several times a day by gently pulling the hammer toe downwards and holding it downwards for 5 to 10 seconds. When stretching your toes, make sure to work on one toe at a time.
Exercise the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the foot daily. You can use one of the following exercises to help strengthen the foot:
- Pickup Marbles: Place marbles on the floor with a cup a short distance away from you. Then, using your toes, pick up the marbles and drop them into the cup.
- Towel Curls: Spread the towel on the floor under your feet. Starting from the closest point to you, use your toes to crumple the towel up.
If the hammer toe has lost all flexibility and has become permanently fixed, then your medical practitioner may recommend surgery to realign the toes.
Will Taping Straighten the Hammer Toe?
Taping the hammer toe will help to gently push your toe into its natural position and will help provide relief from pain. But it won’t permanently straighten the toe.
Step-by-Step Guide: How to Tape a Hammer Toe
1. Cut a Piece of First-Aid Tape
First, cut a piece of kinesiology sports tape or first-aid tape that’s about 6 inches long using scissors.
Wrap the tape either under your big toe or the toe next to your hammer toe, making sure that you start at the center and top side of that toe.
Then wrap the hammer toe by going over it, taking the tape under the toe on the other side of the hammer toe.
By taping the hammer toe to the toes on either side of it, it gently pushes the toe into a straight position, like a splint.
3. Finishing Off
You want to make sure that you bring the tape back and go around the toe that you started with to secure the hammer toe.
If you prefer, you can wrap the entire length of your toes in tape. Just be sure that you don’t wrap the toes too tightly, to the point where you cut off blood circulation or lose feeling in your toes.