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Best Insoles for Claw Toe

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By Babafemi Adebajo
Kelly Hendrickse - Editor for Upstep
Edited by Kelly Hendrickse

Updated February 1, 2024.

Woman rubbing sore foot on sofa at home

A claw toe is a foot deformity that can affect the toe joints, causing the little toes to curl under. While it is not a problem on its own, it can cause serious discomfort, decrease mobility, and make it difficult to put footwear on. Without proper management, claw toes can lead to activity limitation, alter gait due to discomfort, and impact a person’s quality of life.

» Take a look at the best insoles for flat feet to provide the necessary support you need

Claw Toe - What Is It?

Claw toes most commonly refer to toes that bend downward at the middle joints or toes that bend upward from the joints at the ball of the foot.

However, this must be differentiated from hammertoe. Though both conditions are often from similar causes and result in bent toes, claw toe affects the middle and end joint, and hammertoe only affects the middle joint. Also, while claw toe may affect the four small toes, hammertoe only commonly affects the second toe.

Claw toe has varying symptoms, including blisters, corns, calluses, pain, and swelling. Those with high-arched feet, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and neuromuscular disease have a higher risk of developing it. Those who wear tight stockings or high heels may also be at risk. Luckily, there are ways claw toe can be prevented, like through toe exercises and sensible shoes.

» Find out the similarities and differences between corns and bunions

What Causes Claw Toe?

Claw toe occurs as a result of muscle imbalance which increases the contraction of the toe flexors, tightens the tendons, and bends the joints. The main factors that contribute to claw toe development are:

  • Genes - Sometimes, you may be born with a foot type predisposed to developing claw toes.
  • Poor-fitting shoes
  • Neuropathy - Specifically, nerve damage caused by diabetes or alcoholism.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease - This refers to conditions that affect how the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord function.
  • Spinal cord tumors
  • Polio and cerebral palsy

Relieving Claw Toe Pain With Insoles

In managing claw toe pain and other symptoms, there are two avenues you can try: conservative (non-surgical) and surgical. An optimal conservative option to help relieve claw toe pain is orthotics.

  • FSA and HSA eligible
  • Free shipping and returns
  • Ideal for those with claw toe pain and high-arched feet

Orthotic insoles can help relieve pain by cushioning the toes, redirecting weight around the painful area, and providing additional comfort when walking. Upstep's Arch Support Custom Orthotics are tailored to you and can help minimize the damaging factors, like high arches, that could be aggravating your claw toe pain. This also makes them the best insoles for calluses.


  • Custom-made
  • Durable materials
  • Addresses foot pain directly
  • 180-day money-back guarantee
  • FSA and HSA eligible
  • Free shipping and returns


  • Short waiting period before receiving orthotics

Arch Support Custom Orthotics

4.5/5(2,381 reviews)

Which Qualities Should a Good Shoe for Claw Toe Have?

Even with a good insole, there's still the concern of finding the right shoe. When deciding on an appropriate shoe for claw toe, you should steer clear of more cramped shoe styles, especially around the toe box, and favor shorter heels. Let's look at a few specific features you can consider.

Tailored Toe Support

Shoes with wide-toe boxes are most suitable for those with claw toes. It gives the toes room to stretch and move around optimally. Custom insoles can provide the cushioning your toes need to rest comfortably in your shoes. Since they're designed to your foot shape, your toe support is maximal. This can help reduce your claw toe pain, allowing you can go about your day without discomfort.

A Proper Fit

Having a properly fitting shoe can help prevent injuries and contribute to your overall gait and posture. By taking pressure off your toes, a properly fitting shoe can also help relieve claw toe pain. Generally, a shoe is said to be properly fitting if there is a finger's width of space between your longest toe and the shoe tip. Otherwise, you should be able to slip a finger between your heel and the shoe heel while wearing the shoe.

Nice Style

Tending to your foot health can sometimes dampen your fashion preferences. But instead of sticking to shoes that cramp your toes to maintain a style, like high heels, try alternative properly fitting shoes that still match your style. However, it may be difficult to find an orthotic shoe that looks trendy and suitable for any event. But this is where custom insoles can help.

Custom Insoles

Custom insoles can help reduce any biomechanical inefficiencies, improve your posture, gait, and balance, and provide a more suitable weight distribution over the surface of your foot. It can also be a conservative, long-term solution, made from durable materials, to help reduce claw toe pain by targeting other contributing conditions like high arches.

» Altered gait? Find out what out-toeing is and ways orthotics can help correct it

Relieve Claw Toe Pain With the Right Insoles

An array of causes, from genetics to high arches, can lead to claw toe, but managing the effects, like corns and pain, is vital. Using a good insole is the best conservative way to do this.

Custom insoles can improve your shoe fit, tailor your toe support, and provide cushioning to help manage your claw toe pain, as well as prevent it from worsening and decreasing your mobility. Upstep's custom orthotics can provide a custom, long-term option to ease your claw toe pain, give you proper arch support, and offer comfort for an improved gait.

» Not sure yet? Check out our arch support custom orthotics review