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Best Shoes For Hammer Toes Of 2024 With A Podiatrist's Top Recommendations

Renee Cherry
Author: Medical reviewer:
August 08, 2023
Renee Cherry
Commerce Writer
By Renee Cherry
Commerce Writer
Renee Cherry is a New York-based writer and editor specializing in beauty, health, fitness, and nutrition. Previously she served as associate editor for Shape.com.
Medical review by
Michael Galoyan, D.P. M.
Dr. Michael Galoyan specializes in podiatry and received his doctorate in podiatry from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Dr. Galoyan advanced his training by completing a residency in podiatric medicine and surgery at Northwell Health, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills.
best shoes for hammer toes
Image by mbg creative
August 08, 2023
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The best shoes for hammer toes:

If you have hammer toes, you may have already noticed certain shoes cause discomfort more than others. The best shoes for hammer toes allow you to move more freely and avoid pain. Not sure which design features to seek out and which to avoid? We've got you covered.

What are hammer toes?

Hammer toes describe when a toe becomes bent, similar to the shape of a hammerhead. Per Miguel Cunha, DPM, podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare in New York, this condition typically affects the second, third, or fifth toe.

"Hammer toe deformities develop when the toes contract abnormally due to an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the foot," Cunha explains. "As the toes contract, they may become permanently bent in a flexed position, which often causes pain, particularly when wearing closed-toe shoes as the bent toe rubs up against the top of the shoe."

Causes of hammer toes

According to Cunha, the below factors can cause or worsen hammer toes:

Genetics: Some people are born with a foot structure that is more prone to developing hammertoes. For example, having high arches or a second toe that's longer than the big toe can increase your risk. Some genetic disorders can also predispose people to hammer toes.

Trauma: Foot injuries, such as a broken toe that heals in a bent position, can lead to hammer toes. In some cases, severe trauma can cause muscle imbalances that lead to hammer toes.

Age: With age, the ligaments and tendons of your foot can become weaker and less flexible. In some cases, this causes the toes to bend into a hammer-like position.

Medical conditions: Some conditions, such as diabetes and neurological concerns, can cause muscle weakness or nerve damage in your feet, which could lead to hammer toes.

Wearing ill-fitting shoes for prolonged periods: Per Cunha, this is one of the most common causes of hammer toes. Shoes that are too tight, narrow, or high-heeled can push the toes into a bent position. Over time, the toe muscles can become unable to straighten, leading to a permanent change.

How to choose the best shoes for hammer toes

Podiatrists say the below features are important to look for in the best shoes for hammer toes.

Wide-toe box: It's important to look for shoes with a wide forefoot. Per Cunha, hammer toes can become compressed and irritated if they don't have enough wiggle room.

Size range: According to Cunha, you'll want to be extra careful to find the correct fit when shoe shopping if you have hammer toes. Shoes that are too tight will eventually become painful. The best shoes for hammer toes come in a wide range of sizes, allowing you to find your perfect fit.

Low heel elevation: Shoes with too much of a heel can put pressure on the ball of your foot and worsen hammer toes. Because of this, Alissa Kuizinas, DPM, Massachusetts-based podiatrist, recommends choosing a shoe that's zero-drop, or at least has a low drop.

What shoes should you avoid for hammer toes?

"People with hammer toes should avoid shoes that are overly stiff or rigid, shoes with tapered or pointed toe boxes, and elevated heels," Kuizinas emphasizes. She also recommends avoiding flip-flops or any sandals that do not strap onto the foot, because they cause gripping of the toes and further worsen hammer toes.

Our picks for the best shoes for hammer toes:

Best slippers: Orthofeet Capri

Pros:

  • Available in 2 widths
  • Orthotic insoles

Cons:

  • Not vegan

Sizes available:

5-12

Colorways:

1

Return Policy:

60 days

If you have hammer toes and need a shoe to wear around the house, moccasins that are wide at the forefoot will be your best bet. Cushioning orthotic insoles and a faux-fur lining make these a comfy choice that won't cause pain or restriction. The shoes have extra depth in the toe area to eliminate pressure on bunions or hammer toes.

Best hiking shoes: Altra Women’s Lone Peak All-Wthr Mid 2

Pros:

  • Water-resistant
  • Free 3-day shipping

Cons:

  • Lack of customer reviews

Sizes available:

5.5–12 (half sizes available)

Colorways:

2

Return Policy:

30 days

Altra’s shoes feature “FootShape” fit insoles with wide toe boxes, which are more spacious than traditional running shoes. They’re meant to be less restrictive—and these hiking shoes feature the roomiest of the brand’s three widths. The shoe is made from water-resistant fabric, with enough traction for any conditions.

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Best Dress Shoes for Hammer Toes: Orthofeet Springfield Stretch

Pros:

  • Free shipping, returns, and exchanges
  • Orthotic insoles

Cons:

  • Limited color options

Sizes available:

5–12 (half sizes available)

Colorways:

2

Return Policy:

60 days

As you may have gathered, pointy toe stilettos aren’t the best option for hammer toes. Instead, our experts recommend opting for a lower heel or (ideally) flats.

This supportive flat features a stretchy knit fabric, wide toe box, and orthotic insoles with adjustable arch support. What's more, it comes in three roomy widths, with extra wide and extra-extra wide options.

Best for hammer toes and bunions: Hoka Clifton 9

Pros:

  • Made with vegan materials
  • Free shipping and returns

Cons:

  • Some reviewers find that they don’t have adequate arch support

Sizes available:

5–12 (half sizes available)

Colorways:

16

Return Policy:

30 days

Cunha says the Hoka Clifton 9 running shoes are comfortable and supportive, with a spacious toe box that’s wide enough to accommodate hammer toes or bunions. They come in regular and wide widths and half sizes, making it easy to find your perfect fit.

These sneakers are designed for running or walking. They’re cushioned-yet-lightweight, weighing in at 7.3 ounces. The Hoka Clifton 9 has been featured in a number of our sneaker roundups, and also holds the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, meaning they’ve been reviewed by a committee that determined they promote good foot health.

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Best podiatrist-recommended: Altra Escalante 3

Pros:

  • APMA Seal of Acceptance
  • Free 3-day shipping

Cons:

  • Not made with sustainable materials

Sizes available:

5.5-12

Colorways:

7

Return Policy:

30 days

A recommendation from Kuizinas, the Altra Escalante 3 is a zero-drop road running shoe with a moderate amount of cushioning. It comes in several attractive colors ranging from teal and dusty pink to more subdued black and white versions.

The Altra Escalante 3 has earned the APMA Seal of Acceptance and features the brand’s signature wide toe box.

Best golf shoes for hammer toes: Sqairz Freedom Mesh

Pros:

  • Free shipping on all orders
  • Water-resistant

Cons:

  • No wide fit option

Sizes available:

6–10 (half sizes available)

Colorways:

4

Return Policy:

30 days

Unlike your typical golf shoe, Squairz shoes feature a roomy, square toe box to provide stability and balance with each swing and ensure a comfortable fit. What's more, the brand offers free spike replacements for life.

We also love that these shoes are water-resistant, so they’ll keep your feet dry even if you decide to golf in subpar weather.

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Best for road running: Topo Athletic Fli Lyte 4

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • APMA Seal of Acceptance

Cons:

  • Relatively limited size range

Sizes available:

6–11 (half sizes available)

Colorways:

3

Return Policy:

30 days

One of Kuizinas’ picks for people with hammer toes, these shoes are intended for road runners. They feature a moderate cushioning and a modest heel-to-toe drop of 3mm.

In line with both expert's recommendations, these shoes have a wider toe box that won't constrain your feet.

Best sandals: Aetrex Jillian Sport Sandal

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Adjustable straps

Cons:

  • No half sizes available

Sizes available:

5-11

Colorways:

10

Return Policy:

30 days

While podiatrists confirm flip flops are a no-go, these sandals have adjustable straps at the ankle to provide support. The shoes are also suitable if you also have plantar fasciitis, since their orthotic insoles provide arch support.

Just note, these sandals do not come in wide sizes—but the standard design does provide a sufficient amount of room in the toe box and the adjustable straps make it easy to find the right fit.

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Best minimalist running shoe: Xero Shoes HFS Lightweight Road Running Shoe

Pros:

  • 4.8-star rating from more than 2,400 reviews
  • Vegan

Cons:

  • Not suited for those who want arch support

Sizes available:

5–12 (half sizes available)

Colorways:

8

Return Policy:

45 days

If you gravitate toward minimalist running shoes, you’ll love the Xero Shoes HFS’ flexible, zero-drop 5mm sole. They feature a wide toe box that allows you to splay your toes naturally without restriction.

A tire tread-inspired design on the outsoles provides sufficient traction during runs, providing all the benefits of barefoot running while keeping your foot secure.

Best vegan: Lems Primal Zen

Pros:

  • Zero drop
  • Made with vegan materials

Cons:

  • Limited color range

Sizes available:

6–12 (half sizes available)

Colorways:

3

Return Policy:

60 days

Lems shoes are widest at the forefoot and toes, to follow the natural shape of the foot—and this specific design features the widest of the brands’ toe boxes.

The soles incorporate injection blown rubber, which is more lightweight and flexible but less durable than full rubber. As such, they’re better suited to errands and everyday activities than running or hiking on rugged terrains.

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How we picked

Podiatrist insight

We consulted with podiatrists and used their insights to determine what to look for in the best shoes for hammer toes.

Reviews

Customer reviews helped us determine whether these shoes really hit the mark. We prioritized those with feedback from people who have hammer toes.

Price

Shoes are an investment in your overall well-being—and the best shoes for hammer toes help keep you active and healthy. That said, we looked for shoes that fit a range of budgets.

Materials

We chose shoes with high-quality, durable materials that will last for a long time. As always, we prioritized those made with sustainable materials.

Comparing the best shoes for hammer toes

ProductPriceSizes availableColorwaysReturn policy
Orthofeet Capri$1255-12160 days
Altra Women’s Lone Peak All-Wthr Mid 2$1905.5-12230 days
Orthofeet Springfield Stretch$1305-12260 days
Hoka Clifton 9$1455-121630 days
Altra Escalante 3$1305.5-12730 days
Sqairz Freedom Mesh$2006-10430 days
Topo Athletic Fli Lyte 4$666-11330 days
Aetrex Jillian Sport Sandal$755-111030 days
Xero Shoes HFS Lightweight Road Running Shoe$1205-12845 days
Lems Primal Zen$1206-12360 days

FAQ:

What sneakers are good for hammer toes?

Brands that favor a wide toe box, such as Altra and Topo, make good shoes for hammer toes.

What do podiatrists recommend for hammer toes?

Podiatrists recommend looking for shoes with a wide toe box and low heel elevation if you have hammer toes.

How do you wear shoes with a hammer toe?

Wear shoes that feel comfortable and don't put pressure on your hammer toe(s) or cause you to grip your toes.

Is going barefoot good for hammer toes?

If you have mild to moderate hammer toes, and you don't have poor circulation or neuropathy (nerve damage) of your feet, it's fine to go barefoot, says Sondema Tarr, DPM, a podiatrist and founder of Direct Podiatry Arizona. Otherwise, it’s best to wear shoes to avoid a foot ulcer.

The takeaway

Wearing the wrong shoes can lead to or aggravate hammer toes, so it's important to keep your toes in mind when picking out your footwear. The shoes on our list meet podiatrist guidelines, with options for every foot type and activity. Foot pain on the brain? Check out our picks for the best foot massagers.

Meet The Experts

Renee Cherry is a New York-based writer and editor specializing in beauty, health, fitness, and nutrition. Previously she served as associate editor for Shape.com.
Dr. Michael Galoyan specializes in podiatry and received his doctorate in podiatry from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Dr. Galoyan advanced his training by completing a residency in podiatric medicine and surgery at Northwell Health, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills.

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