One of the most common questions we receive from patients is: 1) whether there are exercises they can do for certain foot deformities such as bunions, hammertoes and flat feet, and 2) whether those exercises will resolve the problem.
A bunion is a prominent head of the 1st metatarsal bone, which is the bone behind the big toe bone. It occurs when there is a widening of the angle between the 1st metatarsal and 2nd metatarsal, which is the bone behind the 2nd toe. The big toe also drifts towards the second toe. This is illustrated one the picture to the left.
A hammertoe is a contracture of one of the toes, also illustrated.
Flat foot is a collapsed foot where the arch fails to form. This may occur during weightbearing, but also sometimes during non-weightbearing.
There are different degrees of severity in the above conditions. Sometimes the condition is rigid and not reducible. The conditions can cause a lot of pain.
For bunions, many patients will demonstrate that they do stretching exercises to try to straighten out the big toe, and have been doing so for years without results. They will also demonstrate that they perform similar exercises to straighten out the hammertoe, also without success. For their flat feet, many demonstrate arch scrunches but still complain of pain from the deformity. Patients often inquire about what other exercises they can try.
With these deformities, which are either genetic or developed over time through various biomechanical factors, there are no exercises that can be done to correct the condition.
If there is pain in the big toe joint with walking as a result of the bunion, a splint can be utilized to straighten the joint, or a pad can be placed over the bunion to reduce the pain, but neither of these can reduce or change the deformity.
With painful hammertoes, padding can be made to straighten out the toe when walking, but this will also not reduce the deformity over time.
One of the treatments for flat feet is orthotic therapy. These change the angles by which you walk. Orthotics are like eyeglasses. Eyeglasses do not make your eye change so you can see better without them; they change the angles by which light enters your eye. Orthotics work the same way, by changing the how the ground reactive force hits your foot when you walk. But you will lose the correction once you are not wearing either one.
The conditions above are very complicated and require thorough assessment and treatment planning. Simple exercises are not going to reverse the condition. Some of these treatments may involve surgery and specialized orthotics. Call today to have the condition assessed and be informed about the proper treatment.