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Why you should start wearing toe spreaders

A runner's feet take a beating. Here's why you should consider working toe spreaders into your post-workout routine

Many people associate toe spreaders with pedicures and pampering, but lots of runners have started posting their post-workout regimens on social media and oddly, they include spending some time wearing toe spreaders. 

Toe spreaders are typically made from silicon and designed to, quite literally, space out your toes. It is suggested this helps with foot strength. 

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A runner’s feet get beaten up, so making an effort to keep them happy is huge for injury prevention. The winter can be especially hard on your feet, and the ground can be slippery, so planting and accelerating can cause running injuries that didn’t exist in the warmer months. Taking some extra time to look after your body in the winter is super important for maintaining your running health. 

Lauren Roberts is a Toronto based physio and owner of The Running Physio, she says that toe spacers can really help runners, especially those who suffer from foot injuries. The spacers can be used while running or as part of a post-workout rehab routine. “Toe spacers can be helpful for conditions where compressive forces through the midfoot can create discomfort and pain. Many people with toe neuromas or degenerative changes to the foot or toes find that toe spacers can provide good relief, even while inside their shoes. As long as the spacer doesn’t negatively impact your foot strike biomechanics, they can be very useful to allow a wide and comfortable forefoot splay.”

She continues, “Other people may find that spacing the toes inside of their shoes is too intense or makes their foot feel a little uncomfortable. If this is the case, you could consider using toe spacers for a few minutes each night, gradually increasing the time up to 20-30 minutes.”

Roberts reminds runners that while this can be helpful for some, it certainly isn’t a cure-all for foot injuries. “Remember, there’s no definitive right or wrong, and if you suspect you are dealing with an injury, always get assessed by an expert first before experimenting too much with changing the way you run.”

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