The 8 Best Hammer Toe Straighteners of 2021

Alleviate pain from your toes

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Hammer Toe Straightener

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

First Look

Best Overall: YogaToes GEMS Gel Toe Stretcher Toe Separator at Amazon

"Let these spacers—made from medical grade gel—separate your toes for maximum straightening effect."

Best Overall Runner-up: Original ToePal Toe Straightener at Amazon

"A two-piece design that fits under and over your toes for support."

Best Budget: Toe Separators Hammer Toe Straightener at Amazon

"A comfortable, single-toe separator that’s affordable and effective."

Best Hammer Toe Brace: BBTO Toe Splint at Amazon

"An adjustable toe loop and foam cushion make this an easy way to find relief."

Best for Under Shoes: ZenToes Broken Toe Wraps at Amazon

"A discreet and flexible wrap that works better than athletic tape for binding hammer toes."

Best for Bunions: ZenToes 6 Pack Gel Toe Cap and Protector at Amazon

"Correct hammer toe and heal painful blisters or bunions with these toe caps."

Best for Winter: Triim Fitness Toe Separator Socks at Amazon

"You get hammer toe straightening and cozy comfort with these socks."

Best Crest Pad: Dr. Frederick’s Original Hammer Toe Gel Pads at Amazon

"A mashup of a brace and toe separator, this is a solid toe-supporting choice."

If you’ve ever wondered why one of your toes curls down underneath its neighbors, it may be because you have a hammer toe or a defect in the middle joint of your toe. Normally, this joint is bent downward, allowing your toe to lie flat; however, if the joint bends upward, your toe moves in the opposite direction. Hammer toe typically affects the second, third, and fourth toes. It can happen to a single toe or more than one. 

“Hammer toes can be a hereditary problem, something you’re born with in your genes and they slowly get worse over time,” Patrick McEneaney, DPM, podiatrist, and owner and CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. “Other times they can be from activity, the way you walk, or what type of shoes you wear, that’s more of what we call an acquired hammer toe. Other deformities like flat feet, bunions, and high arch feet can all contribute to hammer toe formation also.”

Sometimes, hammer toes are painless and you may only know you have one because of its appearance. But, over time, many cases of hammer toe will become painful and cause other problems. It may hurt to walk or flex your toes, and you could end up with uncomfortable calluses or blisters from your hammer toe constantly rubbing against your shoes.

Severe cases of hammer toe often require surgery, but moderate cases can be helped by making a few lifestyle changes, like wearing better-fitting, more supportive shoes and using an orthotic device like a hammer toe straightener. These orthotics can reverse mild cases of hammer toe, prevent worsening of your symptoms, and provide relief by stretching and supporting your hammer toe.

Here are the best hammer toe straighteners on the market today.

Best Overall: YogaToes GEMS Gel Toe Stretcher Toe Separator

YogaToes GEMS Gel Toe

 Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Painlessly realigns toes

  • Inexpensive

Cons
  • Can’t wear under socks or with shoes

If you’re looking for perfectly-spaced straightening for all of your toes, look no further than this toe stretcher, which not only makes it look like you’ve bedazzled your feet with gemstones but provides the soothing comfort of gel technology while it does its thing.

Pedicure fans will recognize the style at work here: you slide the individual “gems” of this straightener in between each one of your toes, then sit back and let them all hang out equidistantly away from one another. YogaToes suggests wetting the device first so it slides on more easily. Leave the stretcher on for 15 to 60 minutes each day, allowing it to realign your toes back into the correct position.

YogaToes are available in men’s and women’s shoe sizes, with an open-top design (so no sweaty feet). The biggest downside is that you literally can’t wear these anywhere: not under shoes or socks, and not even while you clean your kitchen. You basically have to sit tight while they’re on—but the relief they give you is worth it in the long run!

Material: 100 percent medical grade gel, BPA and latex-free | Additional Benefits: May help bunions, plantar fasciitis, crossed toes, claw toes, and more

Best Overall Runner-up: Original ToePal Toe Straightener

Pros
  • Two-piece device lengthens and separates toes to realign joints

  • Extremely affordable

  • Flexible to comfortably fit and meet your toes where they’re at now, to help them adjust in the future

Cons
  • Can’t wear them in most shoes, but can wear under socks

  • Doesn’t come in multiple sizes

If your hammer toes are killing you by the end of a long day at work, you need an orthotic that will stretch, separate, and lengthen your toes ASAP (and preferably all at once) as soon as you get home and take your shoes off. The ToePal, with its two-piece design, does exactly that.

First, you place the loop separator in between each of your toes, straightening the joints. Then, you fit the toe stretcher over the top of your foot—fitting over the separator—to help realign the joints. Once it’s in place, the ToePal should fit comfortably, with firm but flexible gel that provides toe support but not constriction.

There’s no official recommendation about how long the ToePal should be worn for, so you can decide for yourself how much support you need. These aren’t as intimidating as other stretchers, though, so in theory, you could wear them under slippers or socks while hanging out at home.

Material: Gel | Additional Benefits: May help bunions, Hallux valgus, bunionette, hammer toes, and claw toes.

Best Budget: Toe Separators Hammer Toe Straightener

Pros
  • Can wear as much as you want, as needed

  • More low-key than other toe separators

  • Targets just one problem toe

Cons
  • Only for people with one problem toe, not for multiple injured toes

Don’t need an orthotic that separates or stretches all your toes? If you only have one hammer toe (or only one on each foot), you can get away with something much smaller and simpler. That will save you money, too, which is why this single toe straightener is our budget pick.

Made of a flexible gel cushion designed to slide over one toe, this nifty little spacer will not only keep your one hammer toe from curling under but will also prevent it from rubbing up against your other toes or the inside of your shoe. You actually get four separators in a package, so if you do have one hammer toe on each foot or just need a backup pair, you’ll be covered.

Because it’s so low-profile, you can wear this separator as much as you need to: day and night, with shoes or without. The company claims you can also wear it while exercising, though some people will inevitably find that uncomfortable. But if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on support for toes that don’t need it, this separator is your best bet.

Material: Gel | Additional Benefits: May help with calluses and corns, overlapping toes, toe joint pain, hammer toe, and skin irritation

Best Hammer Toe Brace: BBTO Toe Splint

Pros
  • Two-in-one device: relieves toe and ball of foot pain with one device

  • Adjustable fit loop fits on any toe size on your foot

  • A more discreet option; on the surface it looks like a bandage

Cons
  • Only straightens one toe at a time

  • May not work for more severe cases

Having a hammer toe can wreak havoc on your arches and the soft underside of your foot (often called the “ball” of your foot). So you can wind up with toe pain and ball of foot pain, neither of which you want! 

The BBTO toe splint, however, helps to relieve both kinds of pain: with an adjustable loop for hammer toe straightening and a foam pad to cushion the ball of your foot, this product gives you way more support than a toe straightener alone. 

Other perks? You can use the loop on any toe that curls, and the brace itself can be worn with most shoe sizes. It’s also an acceptable orthotic for treating conditions like claw toes and overlapping toes, so if you have more than one foot problem on your hands (or your feet?) you don’t have to buy more than one product to feel better.

Material: Fibrous composite, washable, and reusable | Additional Benefits: Helps overlapping toes, mallet toes, and v-shaped toes, while protecting the ball of the foot with the soft cushion underneath

Best for Under Shoes: ZenToes Broken Toe Wraps

 ZenToes Broken Toe Wraps Cushioned Bandages

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  •  Discrete and flexible

  • Can fit and be worn under shoes and socks

  • Washable, reusable fabric

Cons
  • Only wraps two toes at a time

  • Cannot be worn 24/7 or for more than 18 hours in a row

Many of the products listed here claim to be capable of fitting under your shoes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be comfortable—and that’s kind of the whole part of a foot orthotic, isn’t it? The ZenToes wrap is the most discreet and flexible of the bunch, with the intended purpose of splinting broken toes comfortably so you can get back to your day.

Thankfully, the same principle applies to hammer toes: you need firm but flexible support, and the non-slip fabric of this wrap can give it to you. You just wrap the fabric around your hammer toe and the toe next to it, attach the fabric with a hook and loop closure, then put on your socks and shoes like normal. Your hammer toe will stretch and straighten, but no one will be the wiser.

The fabric wrap itself is washable and reusable, so you can feel comfortable about wearing it all day no matter how stinky or sweaty your feet end up. It’s more long-lasting than athletic tape, more flexible than a traditional splint, and more adaptable to your busy life. Just don’t wear it 24/7—the company advises against wearing it for more than 18 hours in a row.

Material: Fabric | Additional Benefits: Promotes healing for broken toes, separates hammer toes, and alleviates pain

Best for Bunions: ZenToes 6 Pack Gel Toe Cap and Protector

zen toes
Pros
  • Completely covers toe, preventing friction and promotes healing

  • Flexible gel material that molds to any toe (even your little toe)

  • Stays in place

Cons
  • You must trim product to fit smaller toes

  • Entire gel covering may feel hot, uncomfortable, and cause sweating

When you’ve been ignoring your hammer toe problem for a little too long and are paying the price in the form of calluses, corns, blisters, or bunions, you now have two problems to solve: you need to straighten out your hammer toe and let the skin on your toe heal. The easiest way to do this is with a toe cap or protector, which not only realigns your joints but completely covers your toe, preventing friction and allowing painful sores to heal.

The ZenToes cap is made from soothing gel and is designed to slide over your affected toe. The company says it can be worn on any toe, as it's available in two different sizes (small and large). You can trim the bottom of a toe cap to fit on shorter toes like your pinky toe. Each package contains six caps, so you can protect more than one toe at a time or replace any caps that wear out with use.

Most reviewers say these toe caps stay in place pretty well and are comfortable to wear all day, both in and out of the house. They also seem to get good reviews as far as durability.

Material: Latex-free gel | Additional Benefits: Can help heal bunions, ingrown toenails, blisters, corns, and hammer toes

Best for Winter: Triim Fitness Toe Separator Socks

Pros
  • Stay warm in the winter with an entire foot and ankle covering

  • Can be worn like most socks; wear while doing any relaxing activity around the house

  • Pedicure-friendly; toes are exposed

Cons
  • Cannot be worn under shoes

  • Not discreet

Giving new meaning to the expression “come home and put your feet up,” this product is a cozy sock and hammer toe straightener all in one. If you want relief from painful toe-curling without sacrificing your cold-weather comfort, the Triim Fitness toe separator sock has your name written all over it.

These are literally just normal socks—made from a soft cotton acrylic blend—with one twist: there are holes for each one of your toes to fit through, which provide instant spacing and straightening of crooked digits. You can wear them while you sleep, cook, read a novel late into the night, or watch a movie with your S.O. curled up on the couch. They’re one-size-fits-all for women with shoe sizes 6 to 10. And speaking of women, these are also pedicure-friendly, since your toenails are left exposed.

If you can get past the appearance (you’re not winning any fashion awards with these socks, unfortunately), there’s really a lot to love with this option.

Material: Soft acrylic cotton blend | Additional Benefits: Works for alignment, bunions, hammer toes, overall foot pain, and promotes healthy blood circulation; Good for those with diabetes or going through menopause

Best Crest Pad: Dr. Frederick’s Original Hammer Toe Gel Pads

Pros
  • Offers arch support

  • Can customize to how many toes you have on each foot that are in pain; one toe or all of them

  • Can be worn under socks and shoes

Cons
  • Gel material may feel sweaty or uncomfortable if worn for long periods of time

Not loving any of the choices you’ve seen so far? The gel pad cushion by Dr. Frederick’s is a great middle-of-the-road option that provides spacing for several toes at once and offers important arch support for the ball of your foot. Fitting snugly underneath the shafts of your toes, it’s basically a mashup of a brace and a separator device.

You can choose between a pad with one loop or three, so whether you only need spacing for one toe or all of them, there’s an option for you. They can be worn under socks and shoes if needed, and the company doesn’t specify a time limit (so you can slip these on in the morning and go about your day wearing them). 

We like this straightener because you get four of them in a package, the gel-based cushions are washable with soap and warm water, and the crest pad design realigns your foot while preventing further irritation to painful bunions and corns.

Material: Gel | Additional Benefits: Washable and reusable, straightens toes, corrects hammer toes, and relieves pain

Final Verdict

Hammer toe can develop over time due to hereditary factors as well as lifestyle choices, like your preferred footwear. No matter how it forms, it can be painful and disruptive as the condition worsens. When you begin hammer toe treatment early with straighteners, orthotics, or toe stretchers, you can halt the progression and help relieve your pain. The YogaToes stretcher (view at Amazon) offers the most toe separation—and possibly the most long-lasting relief—but you can’t exactly wear this one out in public. If you need something more discreet, opt for a toe wrap, like the one made by ZenToes (view at Amazon), or a crest pad, like the hammer toe cushion by Dr. Frederick’s (view at Amazon).

What to Look for in Hammer Toe Straighteners

Fit

You could make things worse for yourself by wearing an orthotic that doesn’t fit properly—too big and it could slide around (rubbing on other parts of your foot), but too small and it could place too much pressure on the bones of your toes and feet, causing further injury. Make sure you use a toe straightener that fits snugly, without moving around, but doesn’t feel uncomfortably tight.

When and Where it will be Worn

As you can see from this list, there are several ways to encourage hammer toes to stretch and straighten out, but not all of them can be worn with shoes or as you go about your daily life. If you need to wear one during the day, you’ll need to choose a style that can be worn with shoes; if you only want to use one at night (or while you’re binging Netflix), you have more options. 

Arch Support

The defect in the middle joint of your toe is partially caused by a lack of arch support, which forces your toes to work harder to stabilize your balance. As a result, people with too-flat or too-high arches tend to develop hammer toe more frequently. Proper padding for your arches can relieve symptoms, so look for straighteners that give the right amount of support.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are there any risks associated with hammer toe straighteners?

    The purpose of a hammer toe straightener is to realign the joint of the deformed toe, but sometimes it works in reverse and bends the healthy toe or toes instead. “You have to be careful because sometimes the straighteners that you strap to the toe next door if you have one toe that is becoming deformed while you’re trying to put it next to the straight toe to make it straight,” says Patrick McEneaney, DPM, podiatrist, and owner and CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. “Sometimes it can actually pull the other toe into a deformity.”

    Keep in mind toe straighteners are only effective when used as directed and consistently starting early on, and you may need a combination of orthotics to help your own toes. When you’re shopping for new shoes, wear your orthotics to find the best size and fit.

  • How often should you wear a hammer toe straightener?

    This depends on the product you’re choosing. Some may be worn 24/7, while others should only be worn for 60 minutes or up to 18 hours. Clear instructions on this will be printed on the packaging of each product.

  • Can people with arthritis wear hammer toe straighteners?

    Over time, arthritis can cause toes to curl or bend or rest in different directions, even if this has never happened to you before. Therefore, you may use toe straighteners to correct this problem and provide relief. If you’re ever unsure, check with your doctor to confirm.

What the Experts Say

"Hammer toe straighteners work by providing a lasso effect wrapping around the affected toe promoting a straight position, subsequently stretching the contracted tendon. Padding around the callus or irritated areas can also be helpful. Wearing shoes that have a deeper toe box or a wider toe box can accommodate for some of the problems, as far as for the deformities." —Dr. Martina Randall, M.D., Foot and Ankle Surgeon.

Why Trust Verywell Health?

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

Additional reporting to this story by Jennifer Nied

As a seasoned health writer, Jennifer Nied understands how vital quality product recommendations are for treating symptoms safely and effectively at home. For over 10 years, she has reviewed products, interviewed experts, scrutinized ingredients, and pored over research studies and claims, to help readers like you understand what works for your specific conditions. Every product in this piece was selected taking into account recommendations from doctors, published research, and real customer reviews.

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  1. Harvard Health Publishing. Hammertoe. Updated December 2014.