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GETTING OFF ON THE WRONG FOOT
I have to see a podiatrist a couple of times a year due to various problems with my feet. On a visit a couple of years ago one of my issues was that the nails on both my second toes (the ones next to the big toes) were both growing into the soft tissue at the sides, and getting very sore at the top. I was puzzled as I always make sure my shoes fit well. My podiatrist said that she wasn't surprised as those toes were too long!
She explained that while the majority of people have a gradual, smooth curve downwards from their big toe to their little toe, around a third of the population have a second toe around 1cm longer than the big toe, breaking the standard profile. Have a look at your foot now. Are you 'normal', great! Are you a 'mutant' like me? Well, you're not alone and there are ways to ease any discomfort the long toe causes.
I'd managed thirty-odd years with no problems with these longer toes, but due to changes in my lifestyle (lots of extra walking up and down steep hills) this weird foot profile was now causing problems. As I walked down hills, my longer toes were banging into the top of my shoe, putting pressure on them and actually causing trauma! It was happening so much that my toenails were growing out rather than down, and the skin at the top of each toe had hardened so much that it in turn was cutting into the nail.
Once she'd sorted out the overgrown skin, my podiatrist gave me a free sample of Scholl Toe Protectors. She explained that this product would cushion and protect my mutant toesies.
FINDING MY FEET
Scholl Toe Protectors come in several variants. There are foam protectors (as seen above) and gel/fabric protectors. You can also buy toe 'sleeves' for the knuckles of your toes as well as the 'hood' design which covers the top of the toe. Whilst made of different materials both the foam and gel/fabric protectors are around 2mm in thickness. It doesn't sound much but on your toe it feels like a massive cushion.
FOOTING THE BILL
Scholl Toe Protectors cost around £3 for 2 and are widely available in pharmacies, Superdrug, Boots and various internet sites like Amazon.
BEST FOOT FORWARD
The foam protectors are made of a pale beige soft foam and come packaged in a blister pack. Once removed from the pack I had to put the protector on. It's a bit fiddly at first but I found the best technique to be turning it inside out and then rolling it onto the toe, a bit like rolling on a sock.
The first time you put one on it's important to trim it to the length you need. When I start using a new one I just make a little mark with a pen just past the second knuckle on the toe, take the protector off and snip it with regular scissors. It cuts very easily. Remember, as your mother warned you when you gave your Barbie (or Action Man) a haircut when you were a kid, you can't replace what you snip off, so it's better to cut off too little than too much! The excess product can then be recycled as a sleeve for any sore toe knuckles that may develop.
The foam protectors felt very strange when I first put them on. My podiatrist warned me that not everyone gets on with them as they can affect your walk, and just feel very strange. I was lucky; they felt a little odd, but I quickly got used to the sensation.
I don't wear them all the time; only when I have a lot of walking on a hilly route, so they don't need too much care. This product is washable, but it took me a while to find the best technique. After some experimentation, I now wash the protectors in the sink. First I rub a little hand soap on my hands, get a good lather and then rub the protectors around on my hands, squeezing them to get the soap all the way through. I then turn them inside-out and repeat. I rinse them thoroughly under warm water then leave them on a bit of loo roll or kitchen roll to dry, turning them back the right way once the insides have dried. This washing method works on both the foam and gel toe protector variants.
One toe protector usually survives a good dozen washes, and I find they only need replacing every three or four months, either when I've worn them through or they've got too scuzzy to rescue by washing any more.
FOOTLOOSE AND FANCY-FREE!
Whilst I don't notice much of a difference when walking on flat ground, trekking up and down hills these toe protectors make a *massive* difference! I hadn't realised just how sore my long toes had been getting. Walking down hills I noticed my long toes were no longer banging into the front of my shoe, and the knuckles on these toes weren't being forced up and rubbing the top of my shoe. The 2mm foam made all the difference.
After a few weeks of use I found I wasn't getting nearly as much hard skin building up on the tip of the long toes, and when I next saw my podiatrist she told me the nails on the long toes was looking much healthier.
In conclusion, I think these Scholl Toe Protectors are an excellent product and they've made a massive difference to my foot comfort levels. Short of surgery there's nothing I can do about my long toes (except blame my Dad - he's got them too!), but these simple toe protectors stop me wrecking my nails and make walking much more pleasant.
Scholl Foam Toe Protectors are ideal for protecting sore toes toenails and corns.