Your big toe is medically called the “Hallux”. There are two big toe (hallux) related problems that you may need special shoes for in order to reduce the daily discomfort, both are progressions of the big toe arthritis.
Hallux Limitus basically means your big toe has limited upward movement or motion of your big toe, normally at the joint (big toe joint). It slowly progresses if not taken care of. The progression grows into hallux rigidus. Typically the toe joint still posses its cartilage and las almost no arthritic pain in the big toe joint.
Pain is usually presented when standing for too long, or flexing of the big toe too much, especially due to poor pronation.
Simply put this means a “rigid big toe” which is basically the lack of motion in your big toe joint. This condition usually indicates a loss of the cartilage in the big toe joint and as such any movement of the toe can cause the two joint bones to rub without any intermediary cartilage, causing severe pain. Treatment is usually surgery.
Shoes for Hallux Limitus
As the motion can be painful, you want to improve it by introducing the correct pronation, or at least support the movement. Typically podiatrists would recommend shoes with a stiff sole, or an inflexible sole.
Shoes for Hallux Rigidus
Due to the pain that the lack of cartilage causes your foot while walking, you want to try and limit any movement of thee toe to manage the pain. Most doctors would advise custom orthotics, however there are shoes you can buy that would help if you don’t want orthotics.
Just like hallus limitus, podiatrists recommend stiff soles, specifically those shoes that have are inflexible on your forefoot movement.
Features to Aim For
In both cases you have to aim to:
- Stabilize the foot
- Provide sufficient arch support
- Stabilize big toe movement (and reduce it!)
- Make sure there is sufficient shock absorption.
Some doctors recommend overpronation running shoes for use over ordinary running shoes, primarily because they are made to support and cushion, while being more rigid. These features allow them to reduce or limit movement of the big toe joint.