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How Do I Choose the Best Gel Toe Pads?

Ballet dancers might use gel toe pads inside in pointe shoes.
Corns and hammer toes can often be treated by toe separators.
Article Details
  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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To choose the best gel toe pads, consumers should purchase the product that treats their particular foot problem in the correct size to fit their feet. Each pad is typically designed to address only one or two specific types of foot pain. Customers may find it beneficial to contact a doctor prior to purchasing this type of item to discover which shape is best for their needs. This product may also be used by dancers who consistently perform in pointe ballet shoes, however the sizing and shape is different from those designed to treat chronic foot pain.

Gel toe pads are designed to be worn over the external portions of the foot inside of a shoe or sock. These pads can provide physical relief from pain as well as stability and balance for a variety of foot related problems. The use of gel as opposed to foam or other harder substances allows the pad to form comfortably against the natural contours of the foot without losing the necessary pressure and internal buoyancy that can provide comfort and relief. They are available in different sizes, shapes, and styles to suit the many needs of differently shaped feet.

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Consumers should begin their search for the right gel toe pads by first determining the source of their foot discomfort. Common foot maladies include corns, bunions, calluses, and hammer toes. Corns, which are painful protrusions on the top side of the feet, and hammer toes, which are the curling of toes into a claw-like shape, can often be treated by toe separators which force the toes to spread out and bear the weight of the body evenly without rubbing painfully against different areas of the foot. Bunion pads are available for feet with small, bony protrusions that form at the joints below the big toe and smallest toe. Metatarsal support cushions can be worn by individuals with severe callusing below the ball of the foot that can cause pain when pressure is applied throughout the day.

Once a consumer has determined the type of pad needed to treat his foot pain, he can then determine the correct size to order. Some manufacturers of gel toe pads provide a sizing chart on the outside of their packaging to help customers purchase the right item based on their existing shoe size. If a sizing chart is not available, or if the item must be a custom order, a podiatrist should be contacted prior to purchase. Wearing an incorrectly sized gel insert can cause as much long term damage and pain to a foot as the source of the original discomfort.

Due to the close contact of these items with areas of the body which can become heated and moist easily, the inserts should provide ventilation and be made with a washable outer material. Toe pads which slide over either one or every toe should feature a series of small ventilation holes that allow air to move freely inside the insert and prevent the build up of moisture. Plastic and silicone based outer coverings that house the gel core can typically be hand washed with mild soap and water on a daily basis to prevent the accumulation of an odor inside the insert.

Specialty gel toe pads are also frequently worn by ballerinas to protect their feet inside of pointe ballet shoes. These pads are different from those prescribed by podiatrists for the treatment of foot ailments, and are generally only available in a professional grade thickness and a lite thickness. They are designed to fit inside the tip of a ballet shoe and protect a dancer's feet when she is required to dance on the tips of her toes. Professional grade pads are recommended for dancers starting on pointe for the first time as these pads provide heavy insulation and prevent the dancer from feeling the pressure and contact of the floor. More experienced dancers who have built a tolerance to the pressure of the shoes over many years may prefer a lite thickness pad so that they may feel the shape of the floor and tailor their dancing accordingly.

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