View Full Version : Correcting footwear induced toe deformities

Gerrard Farrell
05-11-2017, 06:40 AM
Might it be possible to correct mild , footwear induced , toe deformities , such as hammer or claw toes , using the type of device shown in the advertisement I have linked to below ?(1)
Note ;this is a question and the views expressed in the text below should not be viewed as any sort of recommendation on the part of the author .

..the digit exerciser - Bigger Faster Stronger (http://www.biggerfasterstronger.com/uploads2/88_Jan_DigitExercise.pdf)


The Brigham associated digit exerciser seen in the link is described in the accompanying text as providing "progressive resistance exercise for the toe flexor muscles causing articulation at metatarsophalangeal joints " .

In my opinion , as the toe flexors apply force against the movable platform of the digit exerciser , the toes move around the MTPJ's but are at the same time encouraged into a straighter alignment with regard to the inter phalangeal joints .
.That is to say that the toes have a tendency to DORSIFLEX at the inter phalangeal joints as the toes PLANTARFLEX around the MTFJs .Thus ,using the device to exercise feet exhibiting mild toe deformity may ,under the guidance of a suitably qualified individual , eventually encourage the toes to function in more natural ,pre deformity alignment, as well as strengthening the muscles involved in the movement .

Further to the above , my understanding is that the majority of toe problems /deformities are related to the use of ill fitting shoes and that prolonged use of , for example , tight shoes can lead to deformities that are difficult to correct . But let’s say we take our wearer of tight , pointy shoes and get them into a pair of shoes with a wide toe box .The cause of the problem has gone but the deformity remains . So how does a podiatrist fix the problem in a conservative fashion ?

Some time ago I expressed the view that far from restoring correct muscle function the short foot exercise might actually re-tasked the toe extensors to act in concert with the toe flexors (intrinsic ) to produce a more pronounced medial arch but at the cost of producing less plantar pressure under the toes during gait . I would now further argue that if the structures of the foot can be educated to perform a previously alien task then surely they can be re-educated to perform "natural" tasks .

In revision then ,when a person uses the Brigham Young University related "digit exerciser" the most distal parts of the toes push down on a platform which moves with the toes . This contact encourages the toes to both move around the MTFJ 's and to do so in more lengthened positions .The exercise stretches the toes out as they plantarflex . Perhaps progressive use of the device can correct deformity not so much by addressing strength deficits but by lengthening shortened tendons and re-establishing muscle synergies .

.Gerrard Farrell

scotfoot (https://podiatryarena.com/index.php?members/scotfoot.15859/), Apr 28, 2017 (https://podiatryarena.com/index.php?threads/correcting-mild-toe-deformity-by-specific-exercises.108702/#post-383665)
( The text above expresses one possible view point only .Always consult a physician before starting any new exercise regime)

Gerrard Farrell
05-13-2017, 06:17 AM
Further to the previous post , it seems clear to me that tissue growth is promoted by progressive resistance training much more quickly than repetitive every day movements .Perhaps then ,if you want to realign the toes to pre deformity patterns then toe spacers etc could be used during exercise with devices like the "digit exerciser" to promote more rapid and more easily controlled tissue changes /realignment .

Put more generally , if an individual wears a realignment device as they go about their daily business then perhaps the stimulus for realignment to the supported position will be insufficient for tissue changes to occur and give permanent change . Better results might be possible with a combination of realignment device and simultaneous growth promoting ,progressive resistance training .

Always consult a physician before starting any new exercise regime.