Whether you’re an athlete, runner, or somewhere in between, you know there’s no shortage of issues that can hold you back. From plantar fasciitis to calf pain, learning how to treat the aches and pains that come your way is important for living a healthy and active lifestyle.
One common condition that can be incredibly painful is hallux limitus. Hallux limitus is a condition in which your hallux, the joint connecting your big toe to your foot, is inflamed, sore, and stiff. While treatment options do include surgery, there’s plenty you can try before taking that drastic step.
In addition to stretching proper rest, wearing the right shoes can help the condition significantly.
In this article, we’ll look at the best shoes for hallux limitus and what to look for when shopping for your next pair of shoes.
Hallux limitus and hallux rigidus what’s the difference?
While often wrongfully used interchangeably, it’s important to note that hallux limitus and hallux rigidus aren’t the same things. Though somewhat similar, they are different.
“An important distinction needs to be made between hallux rigidus vs hallux limitus. Hallux rigidus is defined as pain due to an arthritic joint, whereas hallux limitus is defined as functional pain due to soft tissue tightness (i.e., gastrocnemius contracture) or a long and elevated first metatarsal,” says NCBI.
To put it simply, as WebMD notes, “Hallux limitus can advance into the condition hallux rigidus, in which the joint can’t move at all and walking becomes painful or impossible.”
When researching treatment and talking to your doctor, understanding the different conditions can help you find the right recovery plan for you.
What to look for when buying shoes for hallux limitus
Although it’s becoming more common to see shoes labeled as specifically for hallux limitus, the best shoes for you won’t necessarily say hallux limitus in the product description.
Whether you’re looking for work boots or the perfect running shoe, here are a few things you should keep an eye out when looking for shoes.
1. Large toe box
A large toe box is helpful given that it allows your big toe a little more room to breathe than traditional shoes. Because your big toe movement is limited and often swollen, the extra space can do wonders for your comfort level overall.
2. Rocker bottom
If possible, you’ll also want to consider shoes that have a rocker bottom. Rocker bottom shoes can also be called toning shoes or round bottom shoes as well. Rocker bottom shoes simply have a thicker-than usual sole with a rounded heel.
As Arnie Davis, CPed, and founder and owner of Davis Foot Comfort Center in San Francisco, told LER Magazine:
“Next to foot orthotic devices, rocker bottom soles are the proverbial ‘aspirin’ to chronic and temporary foot problems…. Like foot orthotics, rocker bottoms can offer a number of mechanical remedies, such as inhibiting excessive or painful joint motion, preventing unwanted compensation for immobile joints, diffusing and reducing ground reactive forces, and aiding in the harmony of movement when weight flows through the foot during gait.”
While rocker bottom shoes aren’t always the most stylish kind of shoe, the relief it can bring is often worth the tradeoff.
3. Soft uppers
It’s also a good idea to look for shoes that have “soft uppers.” Uppers are the entire part of the shoe that covers the foot. Shoes with soft uppers help prevent further pressure on the top of your shoe and can be more comfortable for active walking and running. While you’ll want your sole and heel of the shoe to be sturdy, a soft-top part of the shoe does wonders.
4. Avoid heels
Although it may not always be possible, if you have hallux limitus, avoiding wearing heels is highly recommended. Wearing heels for an extended period can add additional pressure to your joints, and you guessed it, cause pain to the big toe. Despite the well known issues wearing high heels can cause, this article on Podiatry Today is an excellent read if you insist on wearing them.
Now that we’ve covered some of the things you look for, let’s take a look at some of the highest rated shoes according to a wide range of sources and reviews.
Hallux limitus shoes for walking and running
Editor’s note: No affiliate links were used in this article.
“This shoe has ASICS Guidesole tech, rocker shoe. The rocker makes it more efficient for running. Also there is plenty of soft cushioning. This thing makes me feel like running on marshmallows, and I enjoy that.” – Review
- Asics are known for their great running shoes, and their GlideRide is no different.
- Incredibly comfortable and durable.
- Great fit for heel strikers.
- Not the best shoes for trail running.
- Not designed for foot strikers.
- A little pricey for some budgets.
Starting at $149
“I was diagnosed with a hammer toe…. These shoes are everything I hoped they would be and more! The cushion and support they offer has virtually eliminated any foot pain, as well as the knee pain I developed.” – Review
- Designed not only to help your feet, but your knees as well using their guide rails holistic support system.
- Can be purchased in a wide variety of colors.
- Engineered mesh upper with 3D Fit Print without the bulk.
Great for folks with wide feet.
- Not as durable as some other options according to reviews.
Starting at $129
“Use this for light walking. Helps a lot in dealing with my heel pain Nice cushioning and overall very comfortable.” – Review
- Made with 100% vegan materials.
- Compared to the rest of the Bondi line, the Bondi X features an extended rocker profile for greater acceleration and carbon-fiber plates for smoother toe-offs.
- Carbon fiber plates ensure smooth transition through your gait cycle.
- Premium pricing compared to other shoes on the market.
- Limited colors and styles.
Hallux Limitus Shoes For Everyday Wear
“The quality of materials, attractive design and fit for a healthy toe bed makes this brand a winner” – Review
- Incredibly lightweight and durable.
- Uses Dansko’s Natural Arch technology for added arch support.
- Easy clean uppers.
- Not a name brand shoe.
- Somewhat pricey for a sandal.
- Starting at $80
“Out of the box with the first day worn being a 12 hr shift, this is the single best, hands down, pair of work shoes i’ve ever purchased.I had ZERO pain after a double shift and zero pain since..its been about 45 days.” – Review
- Water resistant.
- Lightweight while offering support and style.
- Great for those in retail or hospitality.
- Breathable knitted upper to keep feet cool.
- Some reviews suggest it could use more heel cushioning.
- Limited color options.
- Starting at $54
“They are quick and easy to dry after getting wet, can be worn with or without short socks, are very comfortable to walk in, cushioned and arch support. Toe width has enough room for comfortable spread with no rubbing on sides or top of toes.” – Review
- Great price for great comfort.
- Gives your feet plenty of room (good news for your big toe!)
- Not the most stylish of shoes.
- Sizing tends to run a bit small, order up!
- Starting at $29.99
While there’s no way we could cover every great shoe for hallux limitus, we hope this list is a great place for you to start!
Wearing the right shoes help, but don’t stop there.
From stretching, to ice baths, there are many ways you can work to help treat your hallux limitus from the comfort of your own home. Although surgery is sometimes needed, be sure to consider your other options first.
Be sure to check out our step by step guide on the best holistic treatments for hallux limitus.
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