Best Toe Separators to Prevent the Big Toe from Hitting the Second Toe
If you have bunions you will often find the the big toe drifts over and presses into the second toe. In some cases the big toe will go over or under the second toe.
Any of these conditions can be irritating and it can be helpful to keep the two toes separated.
There are many types of devices on the market that are designed to keep these two toes apart. We have had our patients try all of them and below are the ones we find work the best.
All of the toe separators listed below work well on some people, but none of them work on everyone. We recommend trying several of them and determine which work the best for your feet.
These devices are the ones we recommend to our patients and they are also affiliate links so we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if your order from the link.
Can Toe Separators like Correct Toes® Fix Your Bunion?
Well…..kind of maybe. In the last section of this article, we have a detailed discussion about whether or not toe separators can help reduce or eliminate bunions. We’ll provide the best information based on the current best evidence.
A lot of our patients like the DenadaDance Toe Spacers as they do a good job at separating the toes without taking up too much room in the shoe.
This kit also comes with sizes that fit both the big toe and the 2nd toe so you can figure out which works best for you.
This Gel Toe Separator works well for bigger bunions. It takes up a little more room in the shoe compared to the DenadaDance but because it goes over both the first and second toe at the same time it tends to stay in place a little better.
So if you have trouble with the toe spacers slipping around , try this Gel Toe Separator for Both Toes.
If you have trouble with the first and second toes pressing on each other and also have some pain under the ball of the foot this device is often a good choice as it both separates the toes and cushions the ball of the foot. This is only device we have found that effectively separates the toes and provides cushion under the ball of the foot. You can see the Bunion Spacer with Forefoot Cushion Pad here.
Finally, if you need to separate the first and second toes and also have a bump on the size of the foot that needs to be cushioned, this Dr. Frederick’s Toe Spacer and Bunion Pad is the device that we recommend the most to our patients.
Can Toe Spacers Correct Bunions?
This is a question that does not yet have a clear answer. Some toe separators are marketed with claims that they will straighten your toes and reduce your bunion if used regularly. The original one of these devices is called Correct Toes® Toe Spacers.
Correct Toes® and it’s knock-offs act to separate all of the toes as shown in the picture. It’s claimed that wearing these devices regularly over time will act to straighten the toes and reduce or eliminate bunions.
Can Correct Toes® and Similar Devices Reduce Bunions?
We have not been able to find any evidence that Correct Toes® or similar devices provide any long term correction of bunions or hammertoes.
The image shows a before and after with less prominence of the bunion in the after pictures. This may be the case but we are skeptical it is a sustainable correction and we also have no idea what percentage of wearers will see correction. We would love to see some quality studies on this
This doesn’t mean that the devices may not help in some ways. There is likely some short term correction of the bunion. We feel this is most likely temporary unless the toe separator is worn consistently.
Toe Spacers May Decrease Bunion Pain by Improving Joint Position
The greatest benefit from toe spacers likely occurs while actually wearing the device.
A toe separator can help keep the big toe parallel to the 1st metatarsal bone to allow more normal motion of the big toe joint. This benefit is likely lost soon after removing the toe separator.
Anecdotally we have had some (but not all) patients report decreased big toe joint pain when wearing Correct Toes®. Again, there are no studies we are aware of supporting whether or not this is case consistently.
Toe Separators May Improve Balance
By spreading your toes out Correct Toes® and similar devices may provide a better base of support and improve stability. Think of trying to walk on your hands. If you spread your thumb way out you will probably feel more stable. The same may be true of your feet. Again, however, there is no evidence that this is case.
Is there a Disadvantage of Wearing Correct Toes® and Similar Devices?
Not really, so there is no harm in trying them out and seeing how they work for you. We find that some patients really like them and some find they don’t help much at all.
Be aware that they definitely take up room in the toebox of the shoe. You will have to ensure you are wearing shoes with a wide enough toebox to accommodate your foot, your sock, any orthotics you might be wearing plus the toe separators.
If wearing Correct Toes® type devices, you are going to need a shoe with a very wide toebox. We often recommend Altra shoes for this purpose. Altra shoes have an anatomical forefoot shape that provides significantly more width than standard shoes.
Should You Get Correct Toes® or an Amazon Copy?
Correct Toes® are likely the better choice for most people as they have four sizes available making it easier to find a pair that fits you well. They also offer great customer service and have the best support for finding your correct size and making adjustments to improve fit and comfort. Correct Toes® run about $65 for a pair.
Most of the Amazon copies have only one size – and we recommend avoiding those. The odds are high of ending up with one that doesn’t fit well.
We did find one brand on Amazon that has three sizes and that may be a good choice for those looking for a lower cost option. The CoolWave Toe Separator is similar to Correct Toes and runs about $27 per pair at the time of this writing.
Which is the Best Bunion Spacer Pad?
There is no way to say which is the best pad for any particular person (or foot for that matter). We recommend trying a couple of them to determine which device works best for you.