Man doing toe crunches to prevent hammer toe

Exercises to Prevent Hammertoe

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Painful foot conditions are much more prevalent than many would guess. Some studies show that several million Americans suffer from a type of foot deformities, such as claw or hammertoe. Exercises to prevent hammertoe, fortunately, exist. They are excellent solutions even in less advanced conditions, for which hammertoe surgery is still not necessary. Find out what these exercises are and how to do them properly.

Do Exercises to Prevent Hammertoe Actually Work?

Hammertoe is a foot condition in which the toe bends downwards in its middle joint. It is a result of an imbalance in ligaments, tendons, or muscles. This deformity can affect the shape, feeling, or toe functionally and cause discomfort and pain. Inappropriate footwear, injury, bone-affecting diseases, or genetics are just some of the reasons this deformity occurs. 

Some exercises can help you prevent the occurrence of this condition or slow its progression. Still, keep in mind that they can be used as a preventive measure or in the less advanced hammertoe stages. If the condition has progressed and you’ve lost the mobility and flexibility of the affected toe(s), surgery and hammertoe implants may be the best solution.

Person stretching a big toe

What Exercises Can You Do at Home to Prevent Hammertoe?

Specially designed stretches can strengthen the toes, improve joint mobility, and restore muscle balance, which can prevent hammertoe developing or help return the toe to its normal position. If you’re genetically predisposed to the hammertoe condition, or you’ve noticed a slight arching of your toes, here are the exercises you should practice daily.

Toe Crunch

Toe crunches are exercises that will allow you to strengthen your toes while using their middle joint. You’ll need to place a small towel under your foot. Try to grasp the towel with your toes and pull it toward you. Relax the foot and do it again. Repeat the exercise ten times or until you reach the top of the towel. 


This exercise is used for stretching the joint. While sitting, lift your toes off the ground while keeping the heel on the ground. Point your big toe down while lifting the rest of your toes up. Stay like that for a moment, then tap your toes to the floor. Repeat the stretch twelve times. After that, do one more series, but with the big toe pointing upwards and the other toes facing down. 

Manual Stretches

Manual stretches can help you lengthen the muscles that are contracted. You can do this exercise with the help of a towel, or you can use just your hands. The goal of this exercise is to pull the toes backward and hold them in that position for between twenty and thirty seconds. If you’re not flexible enough, place the towel around the toes, hold the ends with your hands, and pull.

Toe Rolls

Toe rolls are a type of stretch that should increase the strength of your toes. Leave the heel connected to the floor while lifting the toes up. Hold the position for a moment, then bring the toes down individually, starting from your small toe and progressing towards the big toe. Repeat it ten times. Afterward, start the stretch once over, but this time reverse the direction and start from the big toe.


Start this exercise in a sitting position, with the foot over your opposite thigh. With the help of your fingers, create small splits between your toes, and squeeze them together – it will help you stretch them. Repeat these motions twelve times.

Floor Grips

This is a type of exercise that can help with rearranging the hammertoe bones. It consists of simple straightening and pressing motions. All you have to do is stretch the toes and straighten them as much as you can, and then push the pads against the ground.

Person pointing the toes upwards

For More Information About the Exercises, Consult Hammertoe Experts

Sadly, hammertoe exercise won’t be effective in all cases. They can help if you don’t show any hammertoe symptoms yet or if your toes are still flexible. While in the beginning stages, you’ll still be able to mobilize the toe joints and stretch the tightened tissue, but advanced hammertoe conditions won’t allow it. 

In advanced phases, not only that these hammertoe exercises won’t be able to help, but it’s likely that the person won’t be physically able to go through them. In that case, the alignment of the toe can be corrected with the help of surgery. However, even in the case of surgery, learning about these stretches can be useful because many of them are used as toe exercises after hammertoe surgery. They are an excellent solution for speeding up a hammertoe surgery recovery time.

Of course, you’ll need a medical professional to assess the progression of the deformity. Our team at Lux Foot Surgery is here for every question you have. Contact us through the website form or simply give us a call any day from Monday through Friday to schedule a free consultation. Let us determine together what your course of action should be so you can stop worrying about the look and the condition of your feet. 


Can You Reverse a Hammer Toe?

More often than not, non-surgical hammer toe treatment will only be able to slow the progression of the condition, not reverse it completely. Still, sometimes you’ll be able to correct a hammertoe without surgery, but only in earlier states. Aside from the toe exercises, different footwear modifications, orthotic devices, splints, or tape appliances can prevent further bending or return the toe to its normal position. 

How Do You Get Rid of Hammer Toes Naturally?

Although no treatment, except surgical, can guarantee you’ll get rid of hammertoes completely, there are some non-surgical ways of slowing the progression of this condition. Physical therapy, shoes with enough room for all of your toes, or specially designed aids such as orthotics or splints can all be very beneficial.


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