Ever notice that your second toe is longer than your big toe? If so, you're in good company. Both the Statue of Liberty and Michelangelo's David have second toes longer than their big toes. But since you're not a statue, you're probably wondering what's the deal with the longer toe and, even more importantly, if you should be concerned about it.
Discovered more than 75 years ago by Dr. Dudley Morton, Morton's Toe affects about 15% of the population. Unlike many other foot problems, Morton's Toe is not caused by ill-fitting footwear, injuries or overuse. It's actually an inherited trait that you're born with.
Also called Morton’s Foot Syndrome or Greek Toe, Morton's Toe is when the second toe is longer and lower than the big toe, resulting in the pressure that occurs with every step you take not being evenly distributed.
This uneven distribution of pressure causes the added weight to be shifted to the second toe, or metatarsal. Over time, this can lead to overpronation (turning inward) of the foot along with other progressive structure irregularities in your foot, ankle, knee, leg, and back.
While there's no cause for alarm if you have Morton's Toe, you should be aware of biomechanical complications that can arise as you age. These are caused by the uneven distribution of pressure on the ball of the foot.
This imbalance occurs because
Complications from Morton's Toe can vary from person to person, depending on the length of the second toe in relation to the big toe, particularly when it comes to stress fractures resulting from Morton's Toe.
As Dr. Charis Eng of the Cleveland Clinic explains, "Some people just have a teeny-weeny Morton's toe, so the longer the toe, obviously, you can see where the stress lines are completely different in your legs" Dr. Eng continued, "Those are the people who would have a higher likelihood of getting stress fractures."
In addition to stress fractures, other complications from Morton's Toe include:
Because it changes your posture and the way you walk, Morton's Toe can lead to low back, shoulder and neck pain. That's why Dr. Eng recommends low-impact sports like swimming or biking for people with Morton's toe.
First and foremost, if you have Morton's Toe, your footwear should fit properly. While ill-fitting footwear is not a cause of Morton's Toe, it can exacerbate some of the associated complications. According to foot.com, the best footwear for people with Morton's Toe has a high and wide toe box (toe area). It may be necessary to buy footwear a half size to a size larger to accommodate the longer second toe.
Metatarsal pads are an easy way to address Morton's Toe. A metatarsal pad can relieve pain by adding support to the shaft of your second metatarsal bone. This helps reduce the pressure on the ball of your foot and re-distributing it more evenly across your foot.
The key to making it work is putting the metatarsal pad in the right spot. This can take some trial and error because if met pads are not positioned correctly, they will make things worse. There are many types of met pads available with various ways of staying in place:
Tread Labs insoles two-part system give you the ability to place a hook-and-loop backed metatarsal pad between the arch support and top cover, allowing for easy adjustment to get the placement right. And the top cover protects the met pad from dirt and bacteria, making it last longer.
If the findings suggest the root of your foot dysfunction is due to Morton’s Toe, your physician will likely suggest the proper type of shoe inserts to help you.
If your Morton’s Toe has contributed to other skeletal problems, your physician may refer you to a specialist who can address the specific issues you are experiencing.
It's always best to seek the advice of a medical practitioner when you are experiencing pain or discomfort. They will help you determine the cause of your issues and point you in the right direction toward solving them so you can walk better, feel better, live better.
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Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.
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