I Tried YogaToes and They Did Help My Foot Pain
YogaToes are gel toe separators that stretch and straighten your toes to help prevent foot pain. I wore them for 90 days and here's what happened to my feet as a result.
It’s no secret that 2020 was a rough year with way too many negatives to list here. I found myself willing to try anything and everything that could make me feel better—mentally and physically.
Some of the experiments ended up being a waste of time and money.
Other products actually did improve my overall health, reduce my stress, or help me sleep better or feel less pain on a daily basis. I called it my “15 Days of Feeling Better.”
One of the first on my list to try was a product designed to help reduce foot pain: YogaToes.
(Related: 9 Natural Home Remedies for Swollen Feet)
What are YogaToes?
YogaToes sounds like a yoga posture for your feet, and they sort of are—they’re toe separators that spread your toes to relax and realign them and hopefully prevent or relieve foot pain. But before we get into that, let me back up. For over three years, I walked two miles round trip every single day to work. The walking commute was glorious for my mental health and heart, but not so great for my feet.
I’m mostly to blame for regularly doing the walk in pointy-toe heeled boots and Converse high tops instead of properly fitting arch-supportive walking shoes.
Last year, I noticed that my fourth toe had started to slightly cross under my third toe—even when I wasn’t wearing pointy-toe shoes. The nail was actually cutting into my toe. Uh-oh, and ouch!
Aside from the occasional blister, I’d never dealt with foot pain before. Frantic, I searched for foot pain relief products. I came across YogaToes, a toe separator and stretcher that promised “instant therapeutic relief for your feet.” The company says they should help bunions (pain and swelling in the big toe’s first joint), chronic foot pain, hammertoes (toes bent permanently downward), plantar fasciitis (the most common cause of heel pain), and overlapping toes.
The YogaToes website and over 6,000 Amazon reviews promised amazing results for stretching and straightening toes. If you’ve ever had a pedicure, YogaToes look like a way more intense version of the toe separators the nail technician uses to keep your toes apart while they’re polished.
Of the three YogaToes products, I decided to try the YogaToes Gems. One, they were the most affordable option at US$29.95. Two, according to user reviews, this is the easiest YogaToes product to put on and take off. The YogaToes Gems are gel-based and a sort of starter toe stretcher.
What do podiatrists say about the benefits of YogaToes?
YogaToes has an obvious online fan following, but what do podiatrists think?
“YogaToes can work to some degree,” says Rebecca Pruthi, DPM, a board-certified podiatric surgeon in New York City. “Full-on bunions and hammertoes are a structural problem—YogaToes can’t realign bones. But even if you don’t have foot pain, it’s a good idea to use YogaToes to get a good stretch.”
That made sense, but what about my issue of overlapping toes? Dr. Pruthi agrees YogaToes can provide relief for some foot issues. “By stretching your feet, you’re relaxing the muscles and creating elasticity of the tissues,” she says. “Your foot is more pliable, more flexible, and feels more comfortable during the day in your shoes.”
Bingo. That’s exactly what I wanted from YogaToes—for my feet to feel stretched and relaxed, kind of like my hamstrings feel after downward dog yoga poses.
Still, Dr. Pruthi advises that anytime a person has foot pain they should get it checked out by a professional. She also suggests regular foot stretching for good foot care practice in general, especially if you have a specific foot type. “Flat feet or high arches will especially benefit from YogaToes,” she says.
How do you use YogaToes?
Using YogaToes is pretty simple. Simply insert the device between each bare toe and wear it for a period of 15 minutes to an hour each day. It’s made of medical grade silicone gel and is more firm than squishy.
Once your toes are separated, pull on each diamond-shaped separator to make sure your toes are evenly separated and secure. The first time I put on YogaToes Gems my foot arch cramped slightly for a few seconds, but then my foot and toes relaxed into alignment. After 15 minutes, I took the Toes off and my feet felt fantastic. Almost as if I’d just had a strong foot massage.
By the end of the week, I could comfortably wear YogaToes Gems for a solid 45 minutes. I generally wear them while watching TV or sitting at my desk. I notice that if I walk around in them, the added body weight creates even more stretch—which feels good. They’re waterproof, so sometimes I wear them in the bathtub (and rinse them off if they get dirty). Don’t wear YogaToes or YogaToe Gems with shoes—not that your toes would fit in them anyway.
Dr. Pruthi recommends a slow build up to avoid injury. “To start off, wear YogaToes for five or 10 minutes at a time,” she says. “As you feel more comfortable, work up to wearing the Toes up to 30 minutes.”
A note on YogaToes sizing and products
YogaToes come in three varieties: YogaToes Gems, YogaToes for Men, and YogaToes for Women. The YogaToes Gems are the easiest to put on. The diamond-shaped flexible silicone gel bends to align your toes and the open design allows for a bit of movement and fluidity. The design also accommodates pretty much any size foot, from a women’s size 6 to 11 and men’s size 7 to 10.
YogaToes are slightly different. With this one, your toes are fixed in a closed top design. It’s made from similar silicone gel material as the Gems, but it’s a bit more rigid, with hole openings for your toes to fit into (even if it’s a big stretch).
For YogaToes sizing, YogaToes for Men is for people with shoe sizes men’s 11 and up. YogaToes for Women is similarly constructed, but for people with smaller feet (women’s shoe size 7.5 to 11). It also comes in an extra-small size. Getting the size right with this product is importa nt for the right stretch.
Do YogaToes really work?
I’ve worn my YogaToes Gems almost every day for close to three months. My overlapped toes are completely straightened out, and I’ve noticed a serious difference in how strong and flexible my feet are. I went ice skating and didn’t have the usual foot cramping I tend to get while wearing skates.
To be fair, I’m also no longer wearing inappropriate shoes on my walk to work. Because of Covid-19, my work commute is currently just to the desk next to my bed. But I do walk my dog for a mile each day, wearing tennis shoes or winter boots.
Overall, I can feel a real difference in my foot health, strength, and flexibility. I’ll continue to wear YogaToes Gems throughout 2021—no matter how far I have to walk.