Best Shoes for Mallet & Hammertoe Reviewed

Hammer and mallet toe, sounds painful right? Because it is – excruciatingly painful. But what exactly causes this painful condition?

The answer to that question is oftentimes ill-fitting shoes, but there can be other causes as well. Cramped toe boxes in shoes crush your toes together and they can become deformed, leading to hammer toe, mallet toe, and even claw toe. When this happens, regular shoes become torture devices that kill your feet just walking to your car from your front door. Preferably, before this happens, you have chosen wider toe boxes and rounded toes in your shoes. However, after this happens, it’s time to look into podiatrist recommended orthotic shoes.

Featured Recommendations

OrthoFeet Asheville
  • OrthoFeet Asheville
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Wide toe box
  • Padded insole
  • Price: See Here
ASICS Gel-Venture 6
  • ASICS Gel-Venture 6
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Breathable upper
  • Durable sole
  • Price: See Here
Arctiv8 Nortiv8
  • Arctiv8 Nortiv8
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Waterproof
  • Oil-resistant
  • Price: See Here

The choices are endless and given how expensive orthotic shoes can be, you don’t have the money for “trial and error” on which shoes are actually comfortable and supportive, with enough room so your toes can spread naturally. We’ve scoured the internet for the best shoes for hammer and mallet toe so you don’t have to. Whether they already have orthotic inserts or are made to accommodate your own, keep reading to find the top ten shoes for people with toe problems.

 

10 Best Shoes for Hammertoe

 

1. OrthoFeet Asheville

If you’re really in need for a lazy day shoe and regular slippers just aren’t doing it for you, check out the Asheville’s made by OrthoFeet. In general the company has several shoes for different conditions/needs, i.e. bunions, claw toes, corns, hammer/mallet toes. These slippers are warm, soft, and built with an orthotic insole to naturally conform to your feet and provide the support you need for hammertoe or mallet toe. You can look forward to going to Walmart now and not worry about pain after only a couple aisles!
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Easy Gait
The sole in the Asheville’s is extremely lightweight and softens each step with “air cushioning” technology. Referred to as the Ortho-Cushion System it is guaranteed to alleviate joint pressure, further motion, and increase stability for pain-free movement. Thanks to bioengineering this happens naturally as well, adding to the ease of walking and standing.

Seam-Free Lining
Annoying seams can press into your feet and toes in all the wrong places, and as we all know it’s extremely uncomfortable and after the day is over your feet are in agony. Especially with hammer and mallet toe. Thankfully the insides of these slippers have no seams and prevent any discomfort that normally would happen to your toes in other normal slip-ons. The lining is also padded and ultra-soft for that extra bit of happiness, you’ll get when sliding them on.

Cost and Value
You might say “I’m not paying more than ten bucks for a pair of slippers” but remember that you get what you pay for. So if you have hammer or mallet toe, picking up a cheapo pair of store brand slippers probably isn’t the best idea since their soles are made of cardboard (or so it seems like it) and the so-called padding wears out pretty much immediately. If you want ultimate comfort and a pair that will last longer than three years, buy the OrthoFeet Asheville slippers.
Pros
  • Wide toe box
  • Orthopedic
  • Leather
  • Padded foam
  • Adjustment strap
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Out of box smell
  • Firm
  • Slide off

2. ASICS Gel-Venture 6

There are many many people out there that are extremely particular about how their shoes fit and feel, and the “catch all” orthotics don’t do it for them. Especially since the severity of hammer and mallet toe is different on each person. If you are one of these people the Gel-Venture 6 athletic shoes are going to be your best bet. The gel sole is comfortable and pliable, and they accommodate your personal inserts.
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Removable Sockliner
The sockliner can be removed so that you can insert your medical orthotics. This way if you have inserts that are detailed to your specific arches and stance you can wear an “everyday” athletic shoe that’s meant for “normal feet”. Why is this so great? Because then there’s no more guessing if a shoe made for disabilities will work, and this means no more hassle of returning shoes that don’t fit and hurt your feet. Just buy, insert, and you’re ready to go.

Reversed Lugs
Finding a pair of shoes that can handle any terrain can be burdensome, with the added problem of hammer and mallet toe needing certain specifications. ASICS has given you the all-in-one benefits of the removable sock liner and a trail specific outsole, guaranteed to give you traction on any surface. Whether going up or downhill you can be sure of your footing in the gel-ventures.

Cost and Value
Sure they may not be orthotic specific shoes but all the features included make them qualify to be on this list, and their worth is equal to if not greater than a lot of shoes made for foot disorders. Add on the fact that whether you’re going for casual, athletic, or even “business casual” the gel-ventures are designed to match your lifestyle.
Pros
  • Gel cushion
  • High abrasion rubber
  • Sitched-down to bumper
  • Synthetic
Cons
  • Crease easily
  • Run wide

3. Spenco Siesta

When you want a shoe that you can just slip on and go without them being actual slippers go with these Siesta Slides from Spenco. They have all the benefits of orthotic sneakers while being a little more “classy” and stylish. The footbed is molded to be “anatomically correct” (fitted to feet) with an open back that cups your heel. They’re available in fabric or textile to accommodate different ‘fashion’ tastes.
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Metatarsal Dome
More commonly referred to as Met Domes these pads aid in distributing weight and lifting pressure off of the balls of your feet. This also helps with hammer and mallet toe with the evenly distributed weight part since you aren’t rocking back and forth (in hopes of alleviating pain) onto your toes, making your feet hurt even more. You can buy them separately for other shoes but Spenco has them built into the Siesta Slides so you’re not having to spend more money after purchasing.

Orthotic-grade Arch Support
Without actually being made from orthopedic materials the arch support in these shoes feels like they are. If the arches of your feet aren’t properly supported all impact will run up your legs and create soreness in your knees, hips, and even back. Also, without said feature, more force will be felt in your hammer and mallet toes. It’s a huge bonus this is included in the Siesta Slides since other shoes don’t have it and you have to buy supports separately, costing more money.

Cost and Value
With so many wonderful comfort features, colors, and fabric/textiles it’s no wonder people don’t mind buying a more expensive slip on to accommodate their cramped toes. Especially with the added heel lift that eliminates any force pressing your rotated toes into the ground. Elevation is essential for any disorder accommodating shoes.
Pros
  • Rubber sole
  • Side gore
  • Soft lining
  • Weathered canvas
Cons
  • Runs wide
  • Clunky

4. Footminders Baltra

4. Footminders Baltra
In the summer nobody likes wearing sneakers, boots and other clunky shoes all the time. Especially when it’s extremely hot and even just stepping outside your feet sit in puddles of sweat. Sandals are the perfect summer shoe, but they’re always flat and don’t absorb impact. These sandals by Footminders are curved for support and made from a mixture of EVA and rubber for ultimate absorbency when they slap the ground.
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Enhanced Stability
Flat sandals and flip-flops (or thongs as others refer to them) are foam cutouts that don’t hug your feet at all. The BALTRA has curved, deep heel cups to keep you in place and make sure you stay lateral all day long. They’re recommended by podiatrists and chiropractors for foot disabilities (plantar fasciitis or hammer and mallet toe) to keep your body in alignment.

Cushioned Straps
Another annoyance with sandals is the straps are usually hard and made from leather with rigid edges. Or plastic. Ouch. No worries, the BALTRA’s have cushioned straps made from neoprene; a rubber made from polymerized chloroprene. It’s durable and used in many other apparels like wetsuits, waders, braces, you name it. Products made from neoprene are enhanced for activity and wear. This means no more snapping straps in the middle of your busy errand day.

Cost and Value
Admittedly these sandals cost more than the foam boards you can buy at Old Navy for a buck, but you can’t beat the stability and comfort these provide for your hammer and mallet toe. It isn’t every day you can buy sandals that are pliable and absorb shock as well as the BALTRA. Click add to cart and you won’t regret it this summer.
Pros
  • Anatomically molded
  • EVA midsole
  • Textured outsole
  • Corrects overpronation
Cons
  • Clunky
  • Loose straps

5. Rockport Eureka

5. Rockport Eureka
Restaurants and fast food joints have strict dress codes (usually), and the majority of the time your shoes must be completely black. Now, finding a pair of black shoes that have a large toe box and can withstand the harsh reality of food service is next to impossible. Never fear the Rockport Eureka shoes are here! Here are a few reasons why these walking shoes are a must-have.
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EVA Midsole
Whether you’re in the kitchen, taking orders, or running food there’s a lot of “I’m not running but I’m kind of running” involved. All the bouncing around can really make your feet sore and cause hip/back pain as well. Eureka! No, really, the Eureka’s have midsoles made of EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate). It’s similar to those ‘orthopedic’ bed covers, but a little more firm. This absorbs the impact from all your moving and “not running” around, preventing all the pains mentioned.

Latex Foam Footbed
You may be wondering how this can get any better, right? The answer is yes. With a foam footbed made of high-quality latex, it’s almost as if you cut into your Tempurpedic bed and stuffed it into your shoes. Except Tempurpedic is synthetic memory foam, latex foam is a natural substance (and more durable). Add on the fact that latex foam can help with your posture thanks to its extreme support abilities. This relieves added pressure on your back and prevents painful knots in your muscles.

Cost and Value
Sure you can go to Payless and grab a pair of fifteen dollar black shoes that claim to have “memory foam” insoles, but you’re only hurting yourself in the long run. Those shoes don’t have wide toe boxes for your hammer and mallet toes, or the quality latex explained above. If you don’t want to end up taking off time from work because your feet hurt so bad you can’t walk, definitely go with the Eureka shoes. They have everything you need to stay on your feet and working hard.
Pros
  • Lace-up vamp
  • Padded tongue
  • San crispino
  • Wicks moisture
  • Flexible leather
Cons
  • Strech
  • Run small

6. OluKai Nohea

6. OluKai Nohea
Don’t let the fact that you have hammertoe or mallet toe keep you from enjoying the outdoors. Overall as a company, OluKai makes shoes for everyone with comfort in mind, and their Nohea mesh loafers are at the top of the list. The footbeds have been contoured to fit the bottoms of your feet for the right amount of cushion and elevation. This feature makes them an ideal shoe for someone with an abnormality like hammer/mallet toe since it isn’t flat and crowding your feet on the inside like most other shoes.
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Dri-lex Lining
OluKai specific dri-lex lining will wick away any moisture to keep your feet dry and comfortable for all day, all weather wear (although I wouldn’t recommend winter, since they are mesh). The mesh upper breathes fresh air in and “rank” air out also adding to the high and dry benefits of the dri-lex. Another bonus, this lining is made from soft microfiber, which caresses your feet and is long-lasting.

Drop-in Heel
Ever notice that after your shoes have been worn in and you’re ready for a new pair the heel is squished and pack down? This is from the soles of your shoes not curving with your heel, but the Nohea’s have a drop-in heel (which means no more pressure on your heel digging into the sole). This feature really helps relieve pressure on your toes and doesn’t force them into the front of your shoes. Perfect for any kind of “rotated toes” (mallet/hammer).

Cost and Value
You may look at the price at first and flinch, but after you look at the benefits and happy customers you’ll realize these shoes are worth the money. For example, the footbed can be removed and washed! No need to buy shoe freshener that only lasts for one day since you can wash out all that “worn shoe” smell. Another bonus? An all rubber cupsole that keeps the “sidewall” of your shoes in great shape after many many wears.
Pros
  • Wide toe box
  • Breathable
  • With/without socks
  • 1 year warranty 
Cons
  • Stretches out
  • Runs large
  • Stains easily

7. Arctiv8 Nortiv8

7. Arctiv8 Nortiv8
If you live somewhere that the air hurts your face, cold weather and heaps of snow mean your regular shoes will not cut it. “I can’t find any snow boots that don’t hurt my hammer/mallet toe!” Do not worry, we have found them for you. These insulated, waterproof boots will keep your feet warm and dry without cramping your hammer and mallet toe every time you step.
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EVA Cushion
We’ve already talked about EVA and the benefits it has for problem feet when used in shoes, and these snow boots have a footbed made from it. This means you get the inner benefits of orthotic shoes in your winter boots, no more layering six pairs of socks and praying your shoes keep the snow out. You can clean off your car with ease and not have the feeling that your toes are falling off.

200G Thermolite
It can get really cold in some places (example: Cut Bank, MT; named the coldest place in the nation) and wearing tennis shoes is foot suicide. Thermolite is a lightweight insulation that has hollow fibers, “But wouldn’t that mean cold air can get in?” not necessarily. Just like with socks and coats, gloves and hats, snow boots with insulation made from Thermolite uses your body heat and traps it. Then, it circulates in your shoes to keep your feet warm. These boots have 200 grams of Thermolite insulation and has been tested for up to -25F, add on some thermal socks and you’ll be toasty in the coldest winter.

Cost and Value
Considering these are not “orthotic” boots (surprisingly there aren’t many out there) they are on the more affordable side. “Then why are they on this list?” Because they can accommodate your own orthotic inserts and turn into your dream boots. Warmth, comfort and cushion all rolled into one winter boot, without spending more than you would like to spend on boots. Arctiv8 knows not everyone can live in warm and sunny places.
Pros
  • Multi-directional lugs
  • Waterproof
  • Oil resistant
  • Rubber outsole
Cons
  • Run large/wide
  • Eyelets are plastic

8. Klogs Naples

8. Klogs Naples
Nurses spend hours and hours on their feet without so much as a 5-minute break to go to the bathroom. Adding a hammertoe or mallet toe on top of that? Yikes (internally cringing). Buying shoes that can prevent limping after only half of a shift (for any job) is a chore. Constantly trying on different pairs, walking around the shoe store, not knowing how they’ll fit after being broken in. Breathe a sigh of sweet relief because we’ve found the perfect shoes made by KLOGS.
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Polyurethane Anti-Slip Outsoles
There are so many shoes out there that slip and slide across any kind of smooth surface, like linoleum. The Mule grips the floor/ground with every step, ensuring the wearer never loses footing. Polyurethane is made up of several different organic materials, using the best feature of each to create a long-lasting substance. The fact that it’s used on the outsoles of the Klogs means they will last a very very long time, and you can avoid the shoe shopping nightmare for quite a while.

Removable Insole
The insole is also made from polyurethane, meaning it is durable and long-lasting as well. Plus it’s a nice cushion with the right amount of support when you’re on your feet all day, something everyone needs in their work shoes. If your shoes have zero support then they have no benefits for wear and will hurt you in the long run. Especially since hammer and mallet toe can cause you to avoid proper posture to alleviate the pain in your toes.

Cost and Value
You might initially look at the Mule and think it’s nothing special but as the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover”. These shoes have so many features that bring them above normal shoes and there are tons of colors and patterns for all. Especially if flexibility is important to you (since orthotic shoes are stiff) then these belong on your feet. Therefore give them a try, you can close your eyes at checkout if it makes you feel better. You won’t regret buying these extremely comfortable shoes.
Pros

Anti Slip

Removable Insole

Cushioned Support

Easy to Slip On

Cons

May not Last Very Long

9. Propet Cliff Walker

9. Propet Cliff Walker
Many people that work outside or do a lot of heavy lifting have a hard time finding a comfortably fitting work boot. After a while of wearing improper footwear hammertoe or mallet toe can develop and cause excruciating pain after a day at work. If you need a pair of boots to prevent this or to alleviate pain now that you already have it, we suggest the Cliff Walker Boot by Propet.
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Nylon Mesh Lining
Most work boots tend to have a thick lining made from heavy-duty fabrics, and these can rub your rotated toes the wrong way and push into them harshly. Therefore you want a boot that does not have a rough lining, which makes the Cliff Walker’s exactly what you’ve been looking for. Their lining is made from a bouncy, nylon mesh fiber that cushions and wraps around your feet (mainly your aching toes) and alleviates pressure as you walk and move.

Flexible Ankle
Usually, boots have a stiff ankle so that they will last a lengthy amount of time (stiff materials means more wears before they wear out), Propet found a way to prevent wear while keeping the ankles flexible. You now can stand in a relaxed state without worry, instead of ramrod straight and not having to deal with sore ankles later. What’s more? You don’t have to sacrifice quality!

Cost and Value
When it comes to buying work boots you expect to spend a chunk of change (they’re pricey), and the good news is these specific boots don’t cost any more than plain old boots that don’t have any of the perks the Cliff Walker’s do. Meaning; you’re getting more without having to spend more. Score! Long-lasting, comfortable, and durable all rolled into one for a steal. There is nothing better than saving money without compromising yourself.
Pros
  • Waterproof
  • Leather
  • Self-cleaning
  • Rubber outsole
Cons
  • Slip on smooth surfaces
  • Inconsistent sizing

10. Vionic Active

10. Vionic Active
If you’re needing something that isn’t going to hurt as you run (because most shoes are stiff and if your toes move they hit the sidewall/upper then ouch) the Vionic Active’s are right for you. With the mesh upper they flex and move with your feet rather than being sturdy and “stabilizing”. This way if your hammer and mallet toe pushes against the top of your shoe it’ll just stretch, preventing any stabbing pain.
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Accommodates Personal Orthotics
Along with the already included EVA removable footbed, these shoes have room for your own orthotic inserts as well. So if you have “weird” feet (higher than normal arches or flatfoot for example) you can “customize” these shoes to your liking. This way you get the room for your hammer and mallet toe while also keeping the rest of your feet adjusted to your liking.

Podiatrist Designed
There aren’t many sneakers out there that the base design was mapped out by a podiatrist. If you don’t understand what that word means you can open another tab and go to Dictionary.com for a detailed explanation. In short, it’s a foot doctor. Vionic had a podiatrist come up with the main build ideas for a comfortable orthotic shoe and made it a reality. Therefore you know you’re getting quality along with the performance of your sneakers.

Cost and Value
Although these shoes are one of the cheaper pairs on this list, that does not mean they are any less in comparison to the more expensive shoes. Vionic brand knows not everyone can afford to spend oodles on shoes, especially when you’re going to doctors appointments and getting bills in the mail. This way you can save a little and still get high-quality orthotics.
Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Podiatrist designed
  • Rubber outsole
Cons
  • Runs small
  • Minimal forefoot support

If surgery isn’t what you’re looking to do then these shoes are your best bet to alleviate the uncomfortable pain of your hammer or mallet toes. Whether you’re on a budget, picky for aesthetic, athletic, or work outdoors there’s a shoe for all your needs. Slip-ons, sneakers, boots oh my! Which one will you try?

 

Criteria for Selecting the Best Shoes for Hammertoe

 

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Wide Toe Box

A major issue for hammer and mallet toe sufferers is that many shoes have narrow toe boxes, which squeeze toes together and pushes them against the shoe. This causes painful pressure and will leave you limping after wear, causing soreness that lasts longer than usual. This can cause a variety of foot problems including bunions, hammertoe and mallet toe. If you already have one of these conditions, a narrow toe box can aggravate your feet, causing pain, inflammation, and irritation.

Every shoe on this list was carefully selected to ensure that they are wider than regular shoes so your feet have ample space while still providing a proper fit and avoiding uncomfortable tightness.

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Arch Support

Pressure for the way your feet strike the ground, from your weight and from the weight of your shoes can place unnecessary stress on the balls of your feet and on your toes.

Something that is critical for relieving this pressure on the balls of your feet and toes is arch support. Shoes for “normal” feet can have flat footbeds and soles, which means your weight is being unevenly distributed through your feet while you stand and every time your foot strikes the ground. After a little standing or a short walk, you’ll be rocking back and forth to keep your weight off of painful, sore places. Not something people with hammer and mallet toe want to be doing since rolling onto their toes feels like they’re being broken.

Arch support helps left the foot where it is needed, redistributing pressure away from your toes and arch.  Great arch support relieves the pressure on your forefoot by placing your foot in a more natural position while either walking or standing.

Each pair on the list above has arch support and has curved footbeds to be anatomically correct.

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Cushioned Footbed

The human foot evolved to walk on soft ground – soils, sands, mud, and grasses.  We were never meant to walk on hard surfaces and our feet have paid a price for our modern way of life.  Mainly because we lack shoes that mimic our foot’s natural state and form.

Insoles have been most commonly made from different boards; summing it up – its cardboard. You can imagine that it isn’t very comfortable to walk around on cardboard all day since it’s solid and has no qualities which absorb shock or provide cushioning. It doesn’t absorb impact, which your shoes are supposed to do. Podiatrists recommend inserts when wearing shoes because of this fact.

Many shoes contain their own cushioned footbed, like the shoes in the list and the best include a removable footbed in case you need a customized insole designed for your particular foot issue and shape.  Lucky for you we’ve dug up the best-reviewed footwear for cushioned footbeds.

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Material

Sneakers are normally pretty stiff so they hold up longer when the wearer does vigorous activity, but when you have hammer and mallet toe you need something that will bend with you. The upper should be flexible while holding your foot securely – preventing it from sliding up and down in the shoe.

Flexible materials or construction will provide a fit that is secure and comfortable and will not irritate your forefoot.  Extra cushioning in the footbed and particularly in the forefoot are great features to look for if you have hammertoe or mallet toe.

Orthotic shoes are made to flex, using materials like mesh and soft canvas or with boots, leather with added padding. This way you can run, walk, and jump freely and not worry about your toes ramming against the inside of your shoes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Will my insurance pay for my orthotic shoes?
A: That depends on your insurance, some do and some don’t. If you see an orthopedic specialist (physical therapist) and they recommend you wear orthotics they can be considered a medical necessity. Get a doctor’s note and give your insurance company a call, it’s worth a try.

Q: Can hammer and mallet toe be corrected?
A: Surgically, yes. Just by wearing orthotics, no. The bones in your toes are supposed to be straight, but when you have hammer/mallet toe then they are “rotated”. If the deformity is not too severe it is a minor surgery with very few cuts/removal of tissue. If very severe then there might be several operations needed to correct it. If blood flow is not optimal for healing, surgery will probably be avoided.

Q: How can I find what inserts are right for me?
A: If you see your physical therapist or doctor they can recommend which inserts will help ease your pain and make your shoes fit comfortably. Or if you don’t want to add on another medical bill go to Walmart and use the Dr. Scholl’s machine, you stand on it without shoes and it calculates your problem areas and suggests the best insole (Dr. Scholl’s brand obviously) that is right for you.

Q: I’m thinking about surgery, what’s the procedure?
A: Trying to explain it would be futile because all the medical terms and confusion that comes from surgery. There are videos available online if you are interested, and you can always contact your doctor to have them explain the procedure and process to you.

Q: How do I prevent hammertoe and mallet toe?

A: The best prevention is to always wear shoes that have enough room in the forefoot for your toes to comfortably lay next to one another. Your toes may still have issues because of genetic or other medical problems but if you wear good shoes all your life, your shoes won’t cause or contribute to your problem.

Sources

  1. Staff of Brisbane Hospital, Hammer, Claw and Mallet Toe Surgery, Brochure,
  2. Monique Labergh, Surgery Encyclopedia, Article,


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