Author: Chloe Wilson - BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy
Toe stretchers such as the popular Yoga Toe are a simple, natural way to relieve foot pain. They spread, stretch and exercise your toes helping to prevent and treat a number of foot problems including Hammer Toe, Plantar Fasciitis and Bunions.
Whether you are on your feet all day, are a runner or simply love your high heels, toe stretchers are great for sore, tired feet.
There are a number of different toe stretcher products on the market ranging from gel/plastic spacers to comfy cotton toe spreader socks. People are often amazed how something so small can make sure a difference to their tired, aching feet.
Here we will look at how they work, what conditions they can help, how to put them on and we compare the different products out there so you can find the toe stretchers that are best for you.
Many foot problems are caused by tightening up of the muscles and ligaments in the foot. This makes subtle changes to the position of the foot and how forces are transferred up the leg to the back. It can affect your posture and how you walk and run.
Toe stretchers sit between your toes, close to the webbing and help to stretch out the toe muscles and ligaments while improving the alignment of the feet. They are worn whilst you are sitting or lying down relaxing rather than when you are up and about. In time, they increase the flexibility and length in your toes which helps combat a whole range of foot problems. They may be made from gel, like yoga toes, foam or even specially designed cotton spreader socks.
Conventional toe stretchers, like the Yoga Toe, are the most popular type of toe separators on the market. Made of gel, plastic or silicone, they slide in between your toes and sit above, between and below your toes. This works to spread the toes apart and away from the ball of your feet. They are usually sold in pairs so you only need to buy one set.
Another popular type of toe stretchers are stretcher socks. As well as all the advantages of stretching your toes apart, they are extremely comfortable, keep your feet warm and they don’t fall off! Some people find they are more comfortable than plastic toe stretchers as they are less bulky and create less friction. They are also comfortable enough to sleep in and never fall off, however much you roll around, unlike the gel/plastic toe spacers. They are also considerably cheaper than the gel versions like yoga toes, but they won’t provide as much of a stretch.
The biggest downside is that they usually come in a creamy white colour so can get dirty quickly. But, they wash well and you can always wear another loose sock over the top.
Toe stretchers help to improve circulation, straighten bent toes and realign joints. They can be used for both the prevention and treatment of a number of different foot and toe problems such as Plantar fasciitis, Hammer, Mallet & Claw Toe, Bunions, Corns & Calluses, Bone Spurs, Achilles problems, Varicose Veins, cramp, toe stiffness, Arthritis, overlapping toes, Morton’s Neuroma and Metatarsalgia.
Other benefits of using toe stretchers are that they relax, stretch and realign the toes, improve balance, circulation and posture, decrease foot pain, strengthen the toes and improve the overall appearance of the foot.
Toe stretchers like the yoga toe should be worn when you are resting – let your body relax while the toe stretchers do their work. Sit or lie down while you wear them. Start off wearing them for short periods, 10-15 minutes at a time and then gradually, over a few weeks, increase to at least an hour a day.
If you try and wear them for too long when you first start, you may get cramp in your feet and the toes may become uncomfortable from being overstretched.
Simply slide your toes into the toe stretchers, starting with your big toe and working along. They should sit as close to the webbing as is comfortable.
Top tip, if they feel uncomfortable when you first wear them, start with the spacers sitting between the ends of your toes. After a few days, slide the dividers half way down between your toes and then within a couple of weeks you should be able to slide them all the way down to the webbing.
Toe stretchers like the Yoga Toe are a great way to help relieve foot and toe pain, but there are a number of other things that can help, such as exercises, footwear and shoe insoles. Visit the Foot Pain Treatment section for a whole host of ideas.
If you need help working out what is causing your foot pain and how to treat it, visit the Foot Pain Diagnosis section.
*Prices correct as of Feb 2018. All prices are subject to change. Please note we do not stock products directly and therefore have no control over price changes. See Advertising Policy for more information