Toe spreaders, oh my

Are you ready to start wearing toe spreaders? A certain running magazine says it might be time. “The spacers can be used while running or as part of a post-workout rehab routine. “Toe spacers can be helpful for conditions where compressive forces through the midfoot can create discomfort and pain. Many people with toe neuromas or degenerative changes to the foot or toes find that toe spacers can provide good relief, even while inside their shoes. As long as the spacer doesn’t negatively impact your foot strike biomechanics, they can be very useful to allow a wide and comfortable forefoot splay.”

I swear there are days when I feel like the list of “extra” things I need is getting silly. Like Nat, I wear a sexy bite guard for sleeping. It goes without saying that there are orthotics in my shoes. I wear glasses. Then there’s my knee brace. “You look like a steampunk cyborg, mum.” Thanks child of mine. And I know, I know that my worrying about this is ableist and on a good day I feel lucky that we’ve got these things and I’ve got benefits that allow me to buy them.

My latest adventure is my second toe, next to my big toe, on my left foot. You read about its xray as an exercise in self care. It tends to overlap the big toe now and my toes no longer line up in a nice orderly fashion. At the bottom of my foot there’s a patch of “ow” where the base of the toe isn’t sitting properly. What’s the answer? Toe spacers of course. I should have known this was coming. My mother has arthritic toes that don’t line up. And we’re basically the same person. We share all the same health problems! Luckily, I think she’s gorgeous (and she’s well and active) and so mostly the idea of gradually turning into her doesn’t fill me with fear. But toe spacers? Really. Well, one toe spreader. But still. Argh.

Bustle even has a piece on the best toe spreaders to wear with shoes.

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8 thoughts on “Toe spreaders, oh my

  1. Thanks for this post, Samantha. All of my toes are misaligned; largely a result of being a kid with an extra wide foot in an era when shoes for feet like mine weren’t readily available and/or affordable. To this point in my life, my bent toes have only been an aesthetic concern that I ‘got over’ back in my 20’s… but as I get older, they are starting to cause pain and I’ve been ‘warned’ that if I don’t try commit to a non-surgical approach to straightening them, I will likely need surgery in my 70’s in order to walk. So… I will definitely check out the link with recommended toe spreaders and make a commitment to using them!

  2. The “extras” are no longer extra, they are mandatory, and the list keeps growing…(contacts, bite guard, etc. etc.) Bunions here (eye roll). And now, corns! Which are wicked painful for tiny things, like glass stabbing wherever they are located – for me, bunion bone and sole of foot. (seriously, I think there should be a word for starting to have conditions that your grandparents had) The uber version of these is CorrecToes, from this site which has lots of info. I wear them at night sometimes. I’ve yet to find shoes that I can wear them in – a subset of I’ve yet to find any shoes wide enough for me – I wear men’s athletic shoes (US 8.5 4E which are almost wide enough). I keep meaning to look at minimalist/zero drop shoes that the site reviews to wear to work at least. Warning – build up the wearing time on these gradually, you’ll feel it in extensor tendons on top of foot and up into shin if you wear them too long! I wear the PediFix singles mentioned in the Bustle article between R big and second toe, always. They don’t last that long. One thing I’ve found recently that helps is wearing Injinji socks (toe socks) for running AND daily wear – that added bit of separation helps. YogaToes has started making compression knee sock toe socks, I’ve got one pair and liked them for travel. Injinji is cheaper and can be found at a discount on sites such as gobros (all socks). Amazon is where I got the YogaToes. I also got toe spacer socks shown in the Bustle article, but they weren’t comfortable – and you really can’t walk around the house in them either. One summer I found sandals with toe separation fabric – I think YogaToes – but they were too flat to be comfortable – yes, I need orthotics.

    But I’m still moving, and intend to do so for decades to come….so at some point, what it takes is what it takes.

  3. I had bunion surgery 5 years ago and now use toe spreaders to keep my surgery foot from regressing and the other one from getting worse. I think of them as retainers for my feet!

  4. I can’t believe I missed this when it published. I love, love, (as in giving them for gifts this year),my toe socks. They are socks with a fat piece of fabric to go between toes. I also have the silicone toe spreaders but I don’t care for those so much. And I don’t have luck wearing them with shoes. I put my toe socks on while I read before bed if I’ve had a tough on feet day and the amount.of relief they provide is amazing. Get them, they’re awesome.

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