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Ehlers-Danlos Support UK
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Clawing of toes causes Foot pain

Could someone perhaps give some advice on How to Prevent toes from clawing. Sometimes i Can actually feel them clawing. Anybody got similar Experiences

Many thanks

8 Replies

Just recently went to a physiotherapist for direction on this. Sit. Take ankle, cross to knee. Bend toes inwards to deeply stretch ligaments. Be gentle. If you're hypermobile don't stretch it too far as peeps are prone to do. Then take it back for another stretch. This releases the tension from over clutched toes. Beautiful! Let me know if anything isn't clear. My toes love my physio girl xx


Try doing some simple stretching and exercising this will help to move them more and keep them supple, if you are able to go gently up on you tip toes. You can also learn to pick up items with your toes and move them starting with larger object like a small towel then say a sock and just work to the smallest thing like a small ball or marble. You can massage and also soak your feet both will help relax your toes and feet especially when you go to bed. I also use some small balls called MELT balls I attended a class and they work well for me in loosening the underside of my foot, I can only use the softer balls of this set the others are too hard.

Hope you can get some relief really soon :-)


My toe clawing was so severe that eventually equinus contracture was diagnosed after years of being unable to walk or stand for more than a few minutes without a cocktail of agonising pain of various types (from acute nerve firing to burning, stabbing etc etc). I am a complex case with very early onset trio of AID & PID & connective tossue related comorbifities , my primaries being infant onset lupus & hEDS & Primary Immunodeficiency. So my extremities are affeced by all of these & diagnosing everything involved in the mix affecting my feet took time & patience..eg i’ve needed bespoke orthotic insoles since i became a teenager

Somehow all my medics missed the equinus contracture & claw toes until my late 50s when my long time heroic Pain Consultant referred me to a brilliant prof ortho surgeon Complex Regional Pain expert who figured these 2 parts of my jigsaw puzzle out & prescribed an arduous long term regime of daily gastrocnemius stretching involving MUCH MORE effort, time & conscientious committment than any physio regime i’d ever undertaken (by then i was years into v helpful physio regimes for various body parts). I was desperate to be able to stand & walk so i complied with his prescription and began to experience benefits immediatedly...within 18 months i was walking & standing without a cane and within 2 years i was talking 2 hour hikes!

The prof advised me his gastrocnemius regime coudldn’t ne effective without my daily lupus meds helping to reduce my tendency to global lupus-related tendon tightening & he has been proven right over the years since i saw him. This combo of hEDS global ligamentous laxity + lupus global tendon tightening makes my case extreme. And i can feel between gastrocnemius sessiins that my toes are canstantly being pulled back to severe clawing. So i take my meds & keep up this physio regime

If you’re interested in details of the prof’s gastrocnemius regime, let me know...but i feel this repkly is long enough now - i’ve been here for over 7 years and have posted details of this regime several times.

I just wish we’d understood this prob much earlier in my life, so we could’ve started me on extra gastrocnemius stretching many years ago to prevent my clawed toes + equinus contracture becoming so severe. And i hope you avoid things getting that bad

🍀🍀🍀🍀 Coco

PS i use a stretching wedge for my gastrocnemius stretch8ng, because doing these calf stretches against a wall was aggravating my hEDS sacroiliac dysfunction + tendency to wrist & thumb joint subluxations...but the wedge has to be at a very sharp angle due to the exteme hypermobility in my ankles:



Hi Barnclown that Sounds pretty interesting . I Do Stretch my toes and put something under tbe toes to Prevent them from clawing but they still Do.I Can Walk. but it is quite painful . Got Hypermobility ankles aswell .The guy who made my orthotics Said i don't Need Ankle Support .Also the Devise you use for exercising, what is this actually?😉

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The device is called a stretch or slant board or wedge and is used for the gastrocnemius stretching which is the key element in the physio regime the prof prescribed me to correct my claw toes:

- 20 minutes gastrocnemius stretching twice daily

- Alternating feet and holding each stretch for minimum 1 minute, no bouncing, just a careful steady stretch)

Here is a video explaining gastrocnemius stretching against a wall

I use the wedge now instead of placing my hands against a wall, as in the video above) because the slant board allows my v bendy ankles to get a sharper angle and this method pretects my hEDS bendy wrists & hands + my sacroiliac joints which were all suffering from the strain of the pushing the against the wall method. I stand in the biard in full stretch for 20 minutes solid, no bouncing

Here is a video explaining gastrocnemius stretching on a slant board:

Hope this helps...as the years have passed, i’ve reonded so well to the regime i describe above, that i’ve been able to cut the time down to 20 minutes a day on the slant board, and sometimes i can even skip a day or two

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Just wondering.Are your toes straighter now?

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Yes: much straighter, but i do have to keep this stretching routine up cause i can definitely feel my toes trying to claw back up again all the time.

I never stick to any treatment regime unless it’s proven to REALLY Helping me...my toes were so clawed that i couldn’t stand or walk for more than a few minutes at a time and even for that i needed a cane cause claw toes (& the equinus contracture causing them) gave me so much pain & made me so unstable and likely to topple over. But i felt immediate benefits from the profs extreme prescribing of the regime described in my earlier reply that i never had any doubt this treatment regime was worth continuing....like i said: within 2 years i could walk & stand again with hardly any pain & much more stability...and much straighter toes

Do discuss this with your physio/podiatrist/gp and think about whether it’s worth trying


PS here is the slant board my hubby got me on Amazon: the most important thing is that it is able to go up at a very sharp angle, otherwise my bendy ankles would’t be at enough of an angle to give the big gastrocnemius stretch i need in order to help make sure my claw toes & equinus contracture never get so bad again:



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