Toe clawing

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Bent toes in an odd position are generally due to tight muscles underneath the foot. Tight or ill-fitting shoes can cause the muscles of the foot to become out of balance.

Toe clawing can be broken down into three categories:

Hammer toe- the toe bends at the middle joint (most commonly at the second toe).
Claw toe- the toe bends up at the joint in the ball of the foot where the toes meet the foot. The toes
then bend down at the middle and end joints.
Mallet toe- the toe is bent at the joint closest to the tip of the toe.


Toes that are bent back or sit in an odd position. They are often associated with corns and callous caused by pressure from shoes.


During the ‘push off’ phase of gait the long flexor tendons contract to stabilize the toes. When the foot is overpronated (rolled in) and unstable, the tendons contract excessively causing the toes to claw.

Genetics can play role in some cases of toe clawing; as does trauma, infection, arthritis, and certain neurological and muscle disorders.


Restoring foot biomechanics and function via footwear and orthotics is particularly important to prevent progression of deformity. Small pads can be used under the ball of the foot to help straighten the toes. Up and Running Podiatry also has a range of gel toe cushions to prevent rubbing on shoes leading to corns and callous.

A surgical referral may be considered in cases of severe deformity.