Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Toe Spacing: More Important Than You Probably Thought

Toe spacers can be built into socks (bottom right)
The hot new fitness device is toe spacers.
The pursuit of perfect toe alignment has made the humble toe spreader the new must-have training tool after previously being associated mainly with pedicures and bunions. You place it between your toes to improve alignment, like braces. The items can cost under $10...

The foot should act like a tripod, with weight evenly distributed between the center of the heel, the ball of the big toe and the base of the little toe.

The spacing should be widest at the toes, says Dr. Dennis Cardone, a sports medicine specialist at NYU Langone Health in New York City. When the toes get scrunched, the foot tripod narrows, which can affect our balance, he says.

Tight shoes that cramp the toes can lead to deformities, such as bunions, where the big toe is pulled toward the smaller toes, and hammer toes, where the toe becomes bent at the middle joint. The wrong shoes can also cause inflammatory conditions like plantar fasciitis...

A study published in the medical journal Clinical Biomechanics linked the presence of toe deformities, combined with toe weakness, to increased falls in older people...

The devices can be made from felt, foam or silicone gel. You can find basic toe spreaders in drugstores, while foot specialists sell versions for up to $65. Companies are designing colorful spacers in aqua and plum, and blingy spreaders shaped like gemstones.
Several in our household wear special orthotics indoors. I don't need them--yet--but toe spacers look like an inexpensive preventive device that can pay huge dividends.

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