Whether you were born with overlapping toes, have bunions or developed foot issues like plantar fasciitis, there are ways to safely and effectively treat these conditions and ease pain or discomfort.
According to Dr. Gary Evans, a podiatrist and board-certified foot surgeon, finding the right product can make all the difference. It’s important to look for something that “can minimize pressure from shoes and other toes, as well as improve function,” he told HuffPost.
He explained that if a toe is flexible enough, it can be temporarily realigned with the use of certain kinds of toe stretchers and separators, which can in turn help alleviate pain, swelling and inflammation. These stretchers and separators can help provide overall foot comfort by reducing pressure on the joints while helping to stretch muscles and tendons, further easing discomfort.
He did, however, mention that “none of these products can reverse a structural change in the toes or joints. Surgery is usually the best option to change the structure of a hammertoe or bunion.” Following surgery, items like spacers, separators and stretchers can also be used to maintain the newly corrected position and alignment.
When picking out items that are best for you, take into account the design and materials, Evans said. Rigid splints and separators are designed for night use and are not meant to be used while walking, while gel and other soft materials can be used in regular shoes and sneakers as you go about your day.
He also pointed out that understanding your overall goal will help determine which item to choose, and that you should consult with your podiatrist to determine what type of product is best for your individual needs — especially if you have diabetes or other circulatory or nerve disorders. He recommended starting off slowly, using a separator or spacer only for short periods of time to begin with. As you start to feel more comfortable with the device, you can start to use it for longer stretches of time.
Below, we’ve curated a list of highly-rated toe stretchers, splints and separators based on Evans’ advice. They can help to ease pain and discomfort without having to invest in expensive therapies. Use them before and after surgeries or just to provide a bit of extra relief at the end of the day.
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