Toe-Spreaders Are All Over TikTok, But Do You Need Them?

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If you're on the wellness and fitness side of TikTok, you may have seen a peculiar device known as a toe-spreader. They're similar to those foam toe separators you wear after a pedicure, but they're meant to do more than just prevent nail polish smudges. Toe-spreaders, or toe spacers, have become a topic of passion for many people, including wellness video creator Kayli Breanne ( In her video which has over 200K likes, she explains how she realized her shoes were squeezing her toes together, causing her ankle and knee pain. Toe-spreaders became the solution for her. 


In another popular TikTok video, foot wellness creator Kelly (@barefootshoeguide) explains that our feet are naturally supposed to be widest at the toes, but the traditional footwear we wear on a daily basis often doesn't leave a lot of room for them. Over time, this can change the shape of our feet and cause pain, bunions, and other foot issues. If your toes have been giving you problems, toe-spreaders might offer you some relief. 

How do toe-spreaders work?

Made from silicone, gel, felt, or foam, depending on the brand, toe-spreaders add space between your toes to stretch them and better align them to your natural foot shape. They're designed for toes that are crowded, overlapping, or bending upward, which is a condition known as hammertoes. This added space helps prevent blisters, corns, and calluses while also providing some needed comfort, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Investing in toe spreaders is also one of the ways to treat bunions at home, which are especially common if you wear narrow-fitting shoes for long periods of time.


Like socks and shoes, there are several toe-spreader options out there to choose from. The brand Yoga Toes makes gel toe stretchers that are great for when you're lounging at home. The Toe Spacer brand sells toe spacers made of flexible silicone, allowing you to move a bit more with them on. There are even toe separator socks that give your toes a stretch and keep your feet warm all at the same time.

If it's only your big toe that's giving you problems, there are separators made only to align the big toe, including the ZenToes separators. The Toe Spacer brand recommends that you start wearing them for 15 minutes at a time, and then gradually increase the time as your feet get used to them. It's best to wear them in your downtime or during a barefoot workout like yoga. 


Are they necessary for everyone?

While they might work for some people, toe-spreaders aren't always the best option for everyone. Podiatrist Georgeanne Botek, DPM explains to the Cleveland Clinic that if you're living with diabetic foot complications, experiencing tingling, numbness, or weakness, or you constantly have sores or blisters, it's best to talk to a doctor before trying toe-spreaders. "If you find that you're having pain despite wearing accommodative padding or toe spacers, you'd probably want to get checked out," Dr. Botek said. "Or if it's a problem that isn't going away, there may be other things that can and should be done."


Though toe-spreaders can help, they don't permanently alter your toes or fix the root of the problem, which is most commonly ill-fitting footwear. Look for shoe brands with a wider fit that gives your feet ample room and support. Vivobarefoot, for instance, sells wider shoes that cater to the foot's natural shape, while still protecting them from the elements. Along with toe-spreaders and finding the right shoes, foot and toe stretches can also help keep your feet healthy and flexible.