Do Gel Toe Stretchers Work?
There are only a few products that I would call "amazing" that relate to healthy feet.
One is the night splint and I guess the other has to be the gel toe stretcher that helps heal a large number of problems, such as hammer toe or bunions.
However, my new gel toe spreader has helped stop most of my foot pains that are not related to PF.
Which is the best toe stretcher to buy?
I was shocked to see that there are really only 3 gel toe spreaders available from Amazon - but they all have very good reviews and have obviously been purchased by a number of people over the years.
If you are looking to keep fit, it is important to make sure that you stretch out the muscles in your body to keep them flexible and in good shape. But why don't you do the same to the muscles in your feet? A good question!
We already know that having healthy feet can help play a major role in keeping well and it also affects your overall health too. Making sure that your feet are looked after is a great way to keep your legs, hips and back in check too.
If you ask any adult, they will most likely begin to tell you tales of bunions, arch pain, plantar fasciitis and lots of other painful feet problems.
What you might not realise, is that many of these conditions are caused by (or begin with) your foot ligaments and muscles being too stiff or cramped inside your shoes. Over time, this will cause the joints in your feet to lock up and not be able to move easily, stopping your foot from working in the way that it should.
Small changes in the way your feet work can affect your whole body. If you begin to walk, stand or run slightly differently to compensate for foot pains or stiffness, your hips and lower back will have to change too, affecting your overall posture.
Luckily, if you have a willing partner (or understanding friend) a regular foot massage will help smooth away these problems before they start to cause issues.
But most of us don't have someone like that on tap - and often we only realise that we need it after the pain has started. Using a gel toe stretcher is a good way to help move the bones, muscles, ligaments and joints all back to the correct place and reduce foot pain.
Put simply, the toe stretcher is made from a soft gel substance that is designed to fit between your toes. The gel is put between your toes, making them stretch out from each other.
This helps put some stretch on your foot muscles. There are other types of products that are similar to these, but the fact that they are made from gel rather than foam or rubber makes them more gentle to use.
Who will benefit from using a toe stretcher?
If you are a runner, you will definitely get some benefit from using a gel toe stretcher as the constant pressure you put on your feet can take its toll on the tendons and muscles around your toes.
Using a toe stretcher will help your feet become more supple and therefore the bones and muscles will work better together, making your run less painful and possibly easier!
Before I started using a toe stretcher, my feet felt very sore all over, especially across the top of the foot. When I flexed my foot, I could feel that the muscles were quite sore, which lead me to try one of these - and I am glad I did!
What are the benefits of using toe stretchers?
- They help with your balance, posture and gait also helping with your coordination.
- They are good at helping reduce or remove foot pain from a wide variety of problems. If you wear high heels or tight shoes all the time, these will be a lifesaver for you.
- They help realign any issues with the bones in your foot. This will promote healthy alignment and will help fix tissue or cartilage problems too.
- Using a toe stretcher will give you better posture, gait.
- They will help reduce any related strain you are putting on your lower back and hips due to foot problems.
Toe Stretchers or Separators - what is the difference?
There are 2 distinct types of products in this area which I like to think of as either temporary or permanent.
Using a stretcher is a great temporary way to give your feet and toes a nice massage and stretch, but what if you have problems where your toes are misaligned, not straight or plain old crossed over?
This is where a set of toe separators comes in. These products are also made from a gel-like material (silicone) but are designed to be worn all day and help realign your toes, stop any overlap and can even help prevent bunions too.
As with anything new, you are recommended to wear them for a short time, to begin with until you get used to them and wear socks overnight if wearing them in bed.
As a runner, I could use a pair of these as my big-toe has spread slightly and is getting overlapped, causing blisters and pain if I run for a long distance.
Our pick as the best pairs of toe separators:
How to use a toe stretcher.
As we have already mentioned, the fact that these products are made from gel rather than foam will help you use them properly and without too much discomfort.
- The first step to using them is to get them wet, which will help you slip them into the correct position between your toes.
- The next step is to fit them and this is done by simply lining the holes in the spreader up with your toes and wiggle it on, one toe at a time. You will see that there are larger and smaller holes, one for each toe on your foot - so make sure you put it on the right way round, although it is hard not to.
- Start with your big toe, pop them through the holes, making sure that the stretcher gets right between your toes. You should start to feel the stretch straight away.
If for some reason you can't quite get your toes into the holes, do the best you can until you can definitely feel that they are being separated.
All you have to do now is sit back, relax and let the toe stretcher its magic.
Are toe separators good for your feet?
There is certainly no evidence that using toe spreaders, straighteners or separators cause any problems with your feet or toes - providing that you use them properly.
It might also be an idea to only wear them for shorter periods of time if they are causing you any pain or discomfort - after all, your toes are probably not used to so much attention!
Like any sort of massage or physiotherapy, your joints and muscles may ache for a while after (or during) using a pair of toe separators, but there should be no problems going forward.
Do they hurt?
Like any exercise you have not done before, the toe stretcher will definitely feel odd the first time and you may feel that your foot muscles have had a good workout.
However, the more times you wear the toe stretcher and the longer you wear them, the more used to them you will get. If you are finding that they are too painful to use, then just wear them for a shorter period of time, to begin with and build up the length of time.
Remember - you have probably NEVER stretched your feet and toes like this before, so you can expect some discomfort or even pain.
If they do hurt too much, take them off and just build up your use of them over time. There is no reason why you could not begin with 15 minutes per day, building up to an hour at a time.
However, the more you use them, the better your feet will feel and you may find that after a few months of use, you can stop completely or reduce the usage.