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Family Foot & Ankle

Claw Toes Starting to Hurt? Try Switching Your Footwear

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Many of us have at least one pair of “bad” shoes we don’t want to give up. Maybe it’s the pointy shoes that cram toes into a tiny space, or the stilettos that put all your weight on your toes, or the blown-out tennis shoes (maybe from walking around in the slush and mud this winter season) that are falling apart and no longer provide adequate support for your heel or arch.

It may be tough to give up a favorite pair of shoes, but if you have a problem like claw toes, it’s worth it to find a pair of good shoes that will treat your feet better. Cramped toe boxes can restrict freedom of movement, providing insufficient space for your digits to straighten, spread out, and wiggle to their heart’s content. Worse, being cooped up in tight spaces puts excess pressure and friction on sensitive spots, resulting in corns, calluses, and blisters on toe tops, toe tips, and the balls of your feet.

If you have claw toes, you should seek out a pair of shoes that offers plenty of space for your curved toes to be themselves without interference. Deep, broad, and tall toe boxes at the front of the shoes are best. This is the most important thing to look for in a new pair.

The exact material is less important, but you may find that softer, more flexible materials are gentler on your toe tops. That’s because they have more “give” and won’t press as hard on your digits. Do check the inside of the shoe, as well, for any raised stitching or other hidden details that could irritate your skin.

Finally, don’t forget that your shoe still needs to do all the other important “shoe things”—fit comfortably, offer a stiff heel and plenty of cushioning and support for the arch, and allow your feet to breathe. Your toes need space, but shoes that are too big in other areas or don’t fit properly can lead to other foot problems down the line.

If a new pair of shoes isn’t enough to bring you relief for your claw toes, make sure you visit Family Foot and Ankle Center for a full diagnosis and treatment plan. We have six Greater Cincinnati locations to serve you. Ohio residents can call (513) 728-4800, while Kentuckians dial (859) 282-1572. Alternatively, you can request an appointment online.


Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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