Think Carefully when Choosing Winter Footwear

In the winter, it’s easy to think shoes and boots will cover up problems like bunions and hammer toes, but your choice of footwear and the type of surface you are walking on will determine how much pain you will experience.

People Staying Active Longer
According to Doctor Norman Turner from the Mayo Clinic, who was interviewed in a Wall Street Journal article, “Walking on hard surfaces, such as concrete, is hard on the joints, and the growing incidence of obesity creates more wear and tear.” He compared the activities of people today with people 60 or 70 years ago and said that foot problems are more common because people are living longer and remaining physically active well into retirement.

The Problems with Crooked Toes
Winter shoes make you more aware of a condition like hammer toe, where one of the smaller toes (commonly the one next to the big toe) is bent so that it looks like an upside-down V-shape from the side, because closed-in footwear tends to press down on the toe and cause pain. The problems multiply during activity because pressure on the joint can result in a corn on the part that sticks up or on the end of the toe. Sometimes pain is experienced on the ball of the foot at the base of the toe.

Treatment Options for Painful Hammer Toes
If you are in pain, apply an ice pack to reduce any inflammation and contact a professional like Toronto-based Podiatrist, Sheldon H. Nadal, D.P.M. for further advice.

If the hammer toe is still flexible, application of padding or corrective tape and anti-inflammatory medication should help reduce the pain. If the hammer toe is fixed, your Podiatrist will assess the severity and may suggest orthotics (corrective insoles) or minimally invasive surgery to re-align the toe joint.

Prevention is always better than a cure, so if you want to avoid hammer toes, wear shoes that are wide enough and deep enough for most of your activities and avoid slip-on shoes or high heels, except for special occasions,  because your toes need to grip to keep these on.