Name a recovery tool and chances are, I've got it. Massage gun? I own a Hypervolt. Muscle scraper? I use my Sidekick tool all the time. Foam roller? I've got three. The one recovery tool I've never tried (until recently, that is)? Toe stretchers.
Let me give some more context. I recently started taking adult ballet classes — an activity that's totally out of my wheelhouse. I have tons of other sports under my belt: I'm a runner, cyclist, swimmer and love the occasional game of volleyball or tennis.
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Despite my long list of physical activities, none of these involve nearly as much footwork as ballet. And I was shocked at just how much my toes and arches of my feet hurt at the end of a 90-minute class. After complaining to a classmate, she swore by toe stretchers and now, I'd never part with this soothing tool from Mind Bodhi.
Features and Functionality
Unlike most recovery tools, toe separators or stretchers are cheap and easy to use — plus you can get them on Amazon. To wear a toe stretcher, all you have to do is put the rubbery tool around each of your toes.
To wear the separator correctly, you place the thick notches between each of your toes. Essentially, the notches straighten your toes and pull them away from one another, giving you a comfortable stretch.
The best part about this recovery tool? It requires pretty much zero effort on my part. All I do is put them on, sit back and enjoy. I'll even wear them while I do housework or drive, making them super convenient.
While I use my toe separators just for stretching purposes, they have been promoted as a product to help correct bunions or hammertoes. Curious to learn more, I chatted with Miguel Cunha, DPM, a New York-based podiatrist, and he was kind enough to offer a little more insight.
Contrary to what some may advertise, toe stretchers or separators only offer temporary relief from painful foot conditions. They can't heal or fix any issues you may have. With that said, though, they're not likely to do any harm either, Dr. Cunha says. So, if they offer some relief, they're worth a shot.
"There are no risks of using toe separators other than some mild discomfort that may occur when initially wearing them," he says. "This discomfort will ease over time as your toes become accustomed to wearing the separators."
Dr. Cunha recommends breaking in your toe separators by wearing them for short periods of time initially. Then, gradually increase the length you wear them.
It's worth noting that if your foot pain persists and the toe stretchers don't seem to help, make an appointment with your doctor to figure out the root cause of your problem and how to fix it.
Grab Your Own Pair
Personally, I wish I'd tried toe separators way sooner. You don't need to be a ballerina to benefit from toe separators — anyone can enjoy the quick relief of this tool, according to Cunha.
So, no matter if you're a dancer, an athlete or just want a little extra foot stretching, this cheap recovery tool is totally worth the investment.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $9.99