Seventy-five percent of Americans experience foot problems in their lifetime, according to the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association. Many of these foot conditions, including corns, bunions, and hammertoes, usually have one thing in common, overlapping toes.
Painful at the very least, an overlapping toe extends over, or under in the case of an underlapping toe, an adjacent toe. This condition usually leads to foot pain, discomfort, and irritation.
What causes an overlapping toe and what can you do to prevent or fix the problem?
What are Overlapping Toes?
An overlapping toe condition occurs when one of your toes, usually the big toe or pinky toe, extends over the adjacent toe. A similar condition, called an underlapping toe, develops when your toe extends under the adjacent toe.
Overlapping Pinky Toe
Referring to the overlapping of your pinky, or fifth, toe. This is typically the most common scenario and is often a result of tight shoes smushing the outside toe against the others.
Overlapping Big Toe
Another super common condition that is also typically caused by tight shoes. Initially, friction from the shoe will cause a bunion to form, taking away space from the second toe and, in turn, causing the big toe to overlap.
Similar to overlapping toes, this condition usually occurs with toes three, four, and five. These toes tend to move underneath the others. Sometimes thought to be caused by unbalanced muscle strength within the smaller muscles of your foot, but exact cause is still unknown.
What Causes Overlapping Toes
Determining the cause of an overlapping toe condition can help you determine the best way to correct the condition and prevent it once corrected. The cause of an overlapping toe usually boils down to one of three basic conditions:
Wearing shoes that are too tight.
A condition such as a hammertoe or bunion.
Improperly fitting footwear
Improperly fitting footwear that is either too tight or doesn't provide enough flex can cause your toes to overlap. The restrictive nature of a too-tight shoe crams your toes together, giving them little room to flex as needed.