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Hammer Toe Muscle

Hammer Toe Muscle
 Extensor Digitorum
The "Hammer Toe" Muscle:  Straighten this Muscle for Beautiful Toes & Feet! 
Content written by Sharon Sauer, CMTPT LMT, & Dr. Justin Tossing

Most people believe there is little you can do besides surgery to fix unsightly and painful foot conditions, such as Bunions and Hammer Toes.

In previous issues of Muscle News, we have shown you how to prevent these conditions with 1st metatarsal lifts to correct Morton's Foot...  

But what about when your toes are already showing the signs of curling downward and hooking toward the pinky toe?  What about when that bony knob is already forming on the side of the great toe?


Absolutely!  Bunions and Hammer Toes have been reversed in numerous cases with the simple Trigger Point Therapy Self-Care techniques to follow.  

Extensor Digitorum Longus (the "Hammer Toe Muscle")

In this month's issue, we are going to show you the muscle that pulls the toes into a "Hammer" shape, and how to get it back to healthy function and beautiful appearance.

It's name, Extensor Digitorum Longus, means that it pulls the toes up and backward from the floor into extension, a critical motion during walking to keep your toes from tripping on the ground.  To the left is a picture of this important muscle, located deep in the front of the shin and reaching down to attach on each of the four lesser toes.

However, when this muscle becomes shortened with myofascial trigger points, it pulls the tip of the toes backward into a chronically bent shape resembling the head of a hammer.  This is not only often unsightly, but can also be painful.

The good news is that this contracture can be reversed and normal function and beautiful appearance can be restored.  It may take months for the changes to complete, depending on the severity and length of the condition, but with a little diligence every day, it is a very rewarding accomplishment that many of your friends will want to try for themselves.

Try the self-care techniques below and forward this remedy to your friends and loved ones!  Beautiful Pain Free Feet can be a wonderful gift any season!

*The information in this article is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition and does not substitute for a thorough evaluation by a medical professional.  Please consult your physician to determine whether these self-care tips are appropriate for you.
Simple Correction For "Hammer Toes":

There are three easy steps to fix this condition and restore function to the Extensor Digitorum Muscle.

1. Wide Toe Box Shoes, Toe Spreaders, and 1st Metatarsal lifts:  

Image result for wide toe box shoes Replacement Insoles

We've harped on the importance of the super easy correction for Morton's Foot, a simple lift under the big toe (1st Metatarsal Lift) that relieves the pressure on the side of the Great Toe from inward rolling of the foot and ankle.  

Morton's Foot (also called Long Second Toe or 1st Metatarsal Deficit) is nearly a ubiquitous congenital condition that modern humanity suffers, causing Bunions, Hammer Toes, and numerous painful conditions. So please contact your trigger point therapist, if you haven't already, to get a quick measurement and fitting for these inexpensive and very effective lifts.  Correcting this condition will greatly help your Hammer Toes to resolve.

Also, your shoes should have a wider toe box, when possible, to allow the toes to spread out.  A shoe that scrunches your toes together can create several unpleasant problems. Also, shoes that are too loose can cause your toes to scrunch downward to grab the sole, encouraging the Hammer Appearance.

Lastly, a simple device readily available to help stretch your toes apart is called Toe Spreaders.  Wearing this device when comfortable a few times a day can definitely help your toes and foot muscles spread and stretch.

2. Trigger Point Compression (Extensor Digitorum Longus):

 Using your fingers or various self-care tools, work down the entire length of the Extensor Digitorum Longus, making sure to cover every 'X' from the upper shin down to the area between the toes.  Tenderness indicates myofascial dysfunction and even though pressing on these areas may be very tender initially, this pain is relieved over time by this compression treatment.  The results can drastically change the health and appearance of your feet and toes.

Here are some photos of trigger point compression for the "Hammer Toe Muscle".  If you really want to reverse a Hammer Toe condition, you will want to repeat these compressions and the following stretches multiple times daily to tolerance.



You can also use a foam roller, Tiger Tail or rolling pin to compress the length of the Extensor Digitorum muscle, as shown  below.  With a harder rolling pin, please hold the rolling pin in your hands, instead of putting your weight on the roll as our model is doing in this picture.


3. Stretches 

Again, to really reverse your Hammer Toes, you will want to perform these stretches as often as possible throughout the day.  It may take weeks to months, but these stretches are so good for you in so many ways that you will enjoy many benefits all along the way.

First, use your own toe and foot muscles to spread your toes and squeeze them together, alternating 30 reps on each foot as often as possible throughout the day, up to 5-7 times per day.

Then, use your fingers to passively stretch your toes apart and back and downward and to each side.

Last, stretch your whole Extensor Digitorum Muscle, as shown, placing the top of the toes on the floor and leaning forward on that leg to bend the toes, foot and ankle as far as comfortably possible.  Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds 2-3 times per side.  Again, repeat as often as comfortable throughout the day.

And that's pretty much the whole technique for correcting Hammer Toes!  Your Trigger Point Therapist may have some additional specific instructions for you individually, as well.

Please feel free to write us to let us know how your results are coming along.  We have had so many success stories with Bunions and Hammer Toes, and we love to hear more!

Happy Self-Care!
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