Hammer Toes (Mallet Toes)

What is it?

A hammer toe and its closely related condition, mallet toe, is a toe that has an abnormal bend in the middle of the joint that causes it to curl. The condition starts out as a muscle imbalance in your foot (sometimes hereditary) that forces bones and joints to compensate.

While injury and arthritis can contribute to hammer toes, footwear that is too short or heels that are too high are thought to be the most common cause. When shoes do not fit properly, your toes may be unnaturally bent and forced against the front of your footwear, forcing your toe into hammer-like or claw-like appearance. The condition is often painful and associated with corns and calluses that result from the toe rubbing against the inside of footwear.

Relieving the pain and pressure of hammer toe may involve changing your footwear and wearing shoe inserts.

Insight and Recommendations

from Schuler Shoes' Board Certified Pedorthist

This is not a medical diagnosis but a footwear recommendation to offer symptom relief. It is meant to supplement your doctor's treatment plan. 

A shoe with a deeper, broader toe box will help prevent rubbing and binding the toes.

A firmer insole with a deep heel cup will help to keep the foot properly aligned. A metatarsal pad can aid in relieving the symptoms as well as helping to improve the function of the foot. Insoles with these features such as those by Birkenstock, Prothotic, or Vasalli can greatly improve these conditions as well as slow the degenerative process.

Avoid going barefoot on hard flat surfaces. Practice toe and foot stretching and exercises to help reduce the advancement of these conditions.


A consultation with a certified specialist is recommended in order to come up with and implement a plan that is best suited to the individual.
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