Shoes for Hammer toes [over 19 amazing shoes reviewed]
When Spring comes we all want to tiptoe through the tulips in cute new shoes. But if finding shoes for hammer toes are an issue for you, your feet may rub and bother you with every step through those flowers! Here’s some good news to help make walking easier. At BarkingDogShoes.com we’ve found plenty of shoes that may help ease the ouch of hammer toes.
What is a hammer toe?
Our toes are small but mighty when it comes to walking. Toes provide balance and support and connect with the ground 75% of the time, according to kids’ science site Wonderopolis. But sometimes something happens which affects the tiny muscles, tendons and ligaments that control your toes. This leads the middle joint of the toe to curl, and the front of the toe to point down. Your toe actually bends into arc shape and looks like a hammer or a hook. This is the condition is known as hammer toe. In the early stages of hammer toes you can still straighten the joint. But eventually the toe will stay bent. Unfortunately, as ladies who have them know, this permanently bent toe starts to rub on your shoe, often leading to callouses and corns on the top and bottom of your feet and it can be painful, particularly in the wrong shoes!
Finding shoes for hammer toes
When it comes to shoe options we know women don’t want to sacrifice style unnecessarily. Shoes that work best with hammer toes should have a toe box that fits your feet, soft material in the upper section, and when possible, a lower heel to ease the pressure. Here are some brands and shoe styles to consider based on reviews and reader feedback:
The fabric in the upper part of the shoe may be key. We like the woven uppers in the Bernie Mev line of women’s shoes. Among the many options, check out the platform wedge Lulia style (Note: you may need to add your insole with arch support if you need one.)
Another brand that gets high marks for hammer toes are the shoes from Aetrex. The Berries and other styles have stretch uppers and supportive foot beds. Some folks online say their shoes are made with deeper toe boxes which may help your discomfort.
Arcopedico is among our top picks from hammer toes (and bunions, for that matter) as the uppers are made of either soft leather or synthetic, water-resistant Lytech (vegan-friendly) which stretches over hammer toes or bunions comfortably. You might like their cute Liana boots.
Another boot option is the Hotter Shoes Vanity from Britain. This suede ankle boot is colorful, cute and accommodating of your toes.
If shorter stylish booties are your preference, consider styles like the Rockport Cobb Hill Nicole. Online reviewers give it high marks for not irritating hammer toes. The upper part of the shoe is lined with soft fabric which may help. Another option is the Bussola line of ankle boots, such as the Cai (Don’t worry if the boot is named Cai, California, Coimbra or Calista–they’re all the same boot!), a water resistant cool looking ankle boot with elastic. A reader recently bought a pair of Bussola ankle boots and said she didn’t even want to take them off in the store because they were so comfortable and supportive.
The Central Florida Women’s Foot and Ankle Center explain in a helpful blogpost that hammer toes are sometimes caused by bunions, which push your big toe inward towards your second toe. Other causes may be arthritis, flat feet or high arches, an injury, or not good choices in shoes. “Tight, ill-fitting and/or elevated shoe wear can force your middle toes to experience an overload of pressure which will then cause them to contract unnaturally.” Many experts online say squishing our feet into pointy high heels can sometimes contribute to hammer toes. And yes, the condition is much more common in women.
If you are searching for heels that won’t pinch your toes, the Hotter Donna heel is a popular option on our site, as this pretty shoe leaves room for your toes to spread up while the footbed provides support and good cushioning. You’ll find it in our list of 6 comfortable, beautiful dress shoes for women.
On the more casual, trendy side, the British brand Fit Flop offers an knit ballerina shoe that slips over hammer toes with ease. The lightweight uberknit upper stretches to accommodate vertical and horizontal toe bumps, and is a breeze to slip-on and off. We’ve read that the style runs large, so you may want to order down a half size. Find a pair at Fitflop.com.
Need slip ons that can be work appropriate? Check out the Clark’s Cloud steppers Sillian Paz slip on shoes with elastic panels and soft lining. Another option is the the Ecco Incise Urban slip-on wedge. Their supportive shoes are made in Portugual. Need more ideas? Read more in our review of the Best Shoes for Hammer toes That Don’t Look Orthopedic.
Deeper Toe Box Shoes
When it comes to shoes for hammer toes, experts say you should also look for a pair that has a higher than normal toe box (the part of the shoe around your toes) as this may reduce the painful rubbing.
Drew shoes including the Drew Tuscany sneaker and Propet brand shoes (check out their Propet Olivia slip on) have higher than average toe boxes. They also both come in mutiple widths. The Propet Lumi Tall Lace boot gets points for the roomy but firm toe box.
Another choice to leave room for your toes and provide support it the ever popular Dansko clogs. The Dansko professional has a rocker sole that takes pressure off the forefoot, many fun colors and patterns.
A newer version, the Dansko XP 2.0 is a lighter, cushior option of the popular clog. The Walking Company features it in 8 colors.
And speaking of Dansko, check out the hammer toe-friendly Dankso Martina, in our review of Comfortable shoes for teachers.
More Shoes for Hammer toes
If arthritis is behind your hammer toe issue, we have plenty of recommendations of shoes for rheumatoid arthritis as well. We recently answered a reader question from a woman with arthritis and two hammer toes, hoping to find dressier shoes that work with hammer toes.
For women with hammer toes finding comfy shoes to wear around the house can be an issue. We’d like to suggest the Haflinger brand. Check out our review of Haflinger footwear for hammer toes. Hafflinger slipper shoes are one of our favorites.
Sandals and Hammer toes – some ideas
When it comes to warm summer months, you may wish to hide your curly toes. But closed-toe styles and other sandals can help ease the pain of hammer toe while allowing you to still stay cute and comfortable in warmer weather. One feature to consider is sandal styles that come with a backstrap. This strap promotes rear-foot control and reduces some of the pressure on your toes to bend and grip as you step. Check out our review of 8 sandals with a backstrap for ideas!
Prefer to cover up your toes? You might consider a closed-toe sandal style. There are lots of options in our reviews that might work. A close-toe choice to consider for spring adventuring is the Keen Rose sport sandal. The soft polyester-microfiber straps and wide toe box work for hammer toes. And they come in several pretty colors.
Walking and workout shoes for hammer toes
When it comes to walking or exercising, did you know your toes play an important role? Your toes actually help your feet bear the weight of your body while you walk. And according to Wonderopolis (don’t you love kids’ science websites?) “When you use your whole foot while running, your toes effectively increase the overall length of your foot, allowing you to run faster.” But for women with hammer toes, finding the right shoe for exercising can be helpful to reduce the rubbing on the tops of those bent, and all-important toes.
We’ve reviewed the best walking shoes for women over the years on our blog. One option that gets high marks for hammer toes is the New Balance 411v2. The deep and wide toe box has more room than the average shoe and a soft fabric lining to reduce irritation. Available in three widths at Zappos
If you need or prefer a slip-on style check out the Skechers Performance Go Walk 3. The mesh upper works for hammer toes.
You should also check out our reviews of the Best Workout Shoes for Women for other choices and styles.
More about Hammer toes
Need some more background on hammer toes? Experts say first of all, you don’t get a hammer toe in your big toe. The big toe has only one joint, that is the one place it can bend. Our four smaller toes have two places to bend. Hammer toes can only impact the toes with multiple joints. (If your big toes is stiff or not bending it could be hallux limitus/rigidus. Read our guide.)
Changing your footwear is a key step for helping hammer toes. But here’s more information on additional treatments and products to help.
Very often if you develop a hammer toe you’ll also get a corn or callous on the top of the bent toe joints. Sometimes toe pads or toe caps may help. Check out Zen Toes toe caps or toe pads made specifically for hammer toes. The experts at Mayo Clinic say shoe inserts may help as well. Check our our guide to shoe inserts and orthotics for some ideas. According to Mayo Clinic, “At first, a hammer toe or mallet toe might maintain its flexibility. But eventually, the tendons of the toe can contract and tighten, causing your toe to become permanently bent. Your shoes can rub against the raised portion of the toe or toes, causing painful corns or calluses.”
You can read more in our Guide to shoes for callouses and corns, but basically your body is adding a tough layer of skin to protect your body from the rubbing in your shoes. We included some tips and suggestions on treating them. Some folks also suggest slipping moleskin pads in your shoes to pad those areas.
Experts seem to agree that foot exercises may help your toes and help you prevent or reduce the issues around hammer toes. A doctor at the Cleveland Clinic actually prescribes to exercise for her patients, to keep their toes “supple and strengthen the muscles that move them…Theoretically, exercises like extending, then curling the toes, splaying the toes, and moving the toes individually may help prevent the digital contracture that causes hammer toe,” according to the article.
One exercise suggestion we found several places online – put a washcloth or towel on the floor, rest your foot on it and grab at the washcloth with your toes. It is suggested this may help your toe tendons stay looser and reduce the curl.
The same Cleveland Clinic story reminds potential patients to “wear sensible shoes”, again highlighting the need for deep toe boxes, and also mentions good arch support to slow the progression of a hammer toe.
If the pain and discomfort of hammer toes doesn’t go away with treatment, sometimes you doctor may recommend surgery. We hear this could be tendon transfer, a joint resection or other procedures.
Got questions about surgery versus sticking it out searching for the right shoes? Visit our Facebook discussion regarding surgery and shoe choice. Feel free to chime into the conversation!
We hope that this guide to shoes for hammer toes is helpful. Feel free to share shoes and ideas that have worked for you in the comments.
Central Florida Women’s Foot and Ankle Center – hammer toes informational blogpost
The Cleveland Clinic – article on hammer toe prevention and treatment
Mayo Clinic – hammer toe information page
Wonderopolis.org – Why Do You Need Your Toes