When starting my barefoot journey I started simple. My initial goal was to spend more time living a barefoot life. However, as I have continued on this journey, I have started to add tools to help me progress through this lifestyle change which is working to undo 30+ years of societal conditioning (i.e. modern day shoe wearing). Not only do these tools provide passive assistance but they also help to undo compensations elsewhere in the body and they make the journey more comfortable! Since most of us live busy lives with many commitments commanding our time I love to find ways to stack my wellness behavior or passively work on them while I focus my attention on another matter at hand, toe spacers are a great way to do just that.
What are toe spacers?
Toe spacers are usually made from a silicon material and look similar to the foam spacers that would be used during a pedicure to make sure your polish doesn’t get squished by your toes. Toes spacers are worn on the feet with a spacer in between each toe. You can also get a similar effect through toe socks.
What do toe spacers do?
The purpose of this tool is to help stretch the toes and create more natural space between each little piggy. This stretch frees up tight spots creating more mobility for the toes which is necessary for many of life’s movements. They can also help with pain caused by bunions and the shifting of the toes towards the center of the foot.
Why do we need toe spacers?
When we wear shoes that are narrow in the toe area (or commonly referred to as the toe box) we end up squishing them all together and immobilizing all the little muscles. Since our toes are able to move independently from our feet and from each other this creates a “cast” or mold that becomes detrimental to our foot health. It can also cause negative movement and alignment compensations all the way up the body as well as reduce the circulation making its way to the foot. A lack of healthy circulation to the foot can negatively impact the body’s ability to heal as well as strengthen the foot.
How I utilize my toe spacers
I like to put my toe spacers on while working at my desk, lounging on the floor, or walking around the house. These are easy to wear while doing something else. Start by wearing them for a handful of minutes and work your way up to more time and more challenging terrain and activities. You may notice that some toes are much happier by the stretch while others find it a challenge. And you may notice differences from foot to foot. Listen to your body and avoid areas of pain. If spacers are too much for your toes, get creative! Find things around the house or utilize your fingers to facilitate the stretch finding the right size for you, changing it up as your feet start to adapt to their newfound freedom.
So, if you are just looking to give those feet a little love, relieve pain, or start your journey to healthier feet through a barefoot lifestyle, toe spacers are an excellent tool that are beneficial for all toes. Even those who are frequently barefoot can benefit from a gentle toe stretch or add them to their fitness routine.
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My preferred tools:
I love to utilize these silicone toe spacers as they are a great entry into stretching out those digits: https://amzn.to/3PSGh6a
I also really like the Naboso pair: https://amzn.to/3XLm9Va
If toe spacers aren't your jam or you would like additional options, toes socks are also a great way to get that stretch: https://amzn.to/3NOUGxn