In reflexology, my attention is focused on the whole body and not just the foot, but a lot of people suffer from foot pathologies that are hard to miss.

One such foot problem is hammer toe, so if you or your clients are suffering from hammer toe syndrome, this article is for you. I’ll guide you through the problem and also suggest ways to help with the symptoms.

What are hammer toes?

Hammer toes are a relatively common problem in which one or more of the smaller toes become unnaturally bent at the first joint nearest the long bones of the foot (proximal interphalangeal joint). This can become quite painful and gradually it might result in other problems like corns and even bursitis.

One of the causes of this deformity might be hereditary, but if this were truly the case, the hammer toe would probably have been there since childhood. More likely the cause is the accumulation of years of a different type of condition – the one we create ourselves known as… tight fitting shoes!

There are other causes that might lead to hammer toe such as arthritis or excessively arched feet. Generally more women are found with the problem than men, but women tend to wear tighter shoes with raised heels which will, in addition, create a gripping action with the toes and thereby bending them further. Personally, I think that the wrong shoe fit is a major cause of the problem.

How it affects people?

Because many people will have the problem over a period of time without any discomfort it usually isn’t even noticed until it’s too late – and by then the damage is already done. Once there, a hammer toe can cause pain and discomfort, make walking uncomfortable and make shoes harder to fit.

How to get rid of hammer toes.

The best solution is to avoid wearing tight shoes. Go for perfect fit so that you’re comfortable and don’t have to face the issue of having hammer toes. But, I’ve had clients actually tell me that they won’t give up their tight, sky-high-heeled shoes – to which I’ve (half-joking) said, “…and that’s why there are jobs for reflexologists.”

One way to correct the problem is to go for a surgery which is effective but it is definitely not the only solution.

There are several exercises that may help to reduce the symptoms such as:

stretch the toes manually. This is where many of our reflexology relaxation techniques such as toe rotations, and the reflexology thumb and finger walking techniques as applied to the toes can help to relax them – all while addressing the powerful reflexes that are found in the toes.

place a towel on the floor and use just the toes to bunch it up, pull it towards yourself or pick it up. This is thought to straighten and strengthen the toes.

– although there are commercial aides, like little bandages or braces, that you can find to help keep the toes straighter, there’re not nearly as effective as avoiding the problem in the first place.

In the end the benefits of all efforts, including reflexology, may be temporary if the foot is put back into too narrow or small a shoe. And, some people will even have a problem in the opposite direction – shoes that are too big. If they aren’t a lace-up shoe the foot will slide into the end of the shoe with every step and cause the hammer toe to be reinforced as well.

Prevention is the best medicine so get into some good shoes and give your toes a break before they break you.

Enjoy your wonderful reflexology skills.

Wendy Coad – Online health and reflexology expert and the “Reflexology Professor” publishes the popular “Reflexology Secrets, Tips and Techniques” weekly email newsletter to subscribers from around the world. If you’re ready to enjoy health, express creativity, gain knowledge and skyrocket your reflexology or holistic health career, get your FREE tips now at and join us at the top right corner.