Best Shoes for Hallux Rigidus & Limitus for Men in 2019

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This page covers the best men's walking shoes for hallux rigidus and hallux limitus. If you are looking for the best women's shoes for Hallux Rigidus & Limitus, you'll find them here!

The Main Features the Best Shoes for Hallux Rigidus & Hallux Limitus Must Have

  • 1
    R​igid or Fairly Rigid Thick Soles
  • 2
    Ample Width Toe Box
  • 3
    Control of Overpronation
  • 4
    Rearfoot Control Mechanism hold foot in place
  • 5
    Rocker Sole Design
  • 6
    Low Drop from heel to toe
  • 7
    Cushioning to increase comfort generally

I expect you have seen many websites recommending running shoes for this condition but almost none are suitable unless your condition is just starting the Limitus phase.

Below are the shoes recommended by WooWalkers after extensive research. Below the table is an overview of the Hallux Rigidus & Limitus Condition and why we are recommending these shoes.

In a hurry? The links in the table below will jump you down the page to the individual shoe review (no reload required). 

Links disclosure: We spend many hours researching our posts and provide links to important articles relevant to the topic of this page. We also link to products or services offered by third parties such as Amazon.com and other online retailers where you can see more information and images of the product or service and decide if it is right for you. We may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) if you make a purchase. We want you to know that we only recommend products and services we believe to offer you great value either through our thorough research or that we have personally purchased.

Last Reviewed on 12 March 2019 - Minor Update - 8 January 2019 Main Content Rewrite with Latest Shoes.

by Curtis

A Quick Look at the 8 Best Men's Shoes for Hallux Limitus & Hallux Rigidus in this Review


Best Men's Shoes for Hallux Limitus & Hallux Limitus 

Merrell Mens MOAB II Ventilator

Merrell MOAB
Ventilator Trail
Jump to Our Review

Altra Mens Lone Peak 4

Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Trail Shoe
Jump to Our Review

Hoka One One Men Gaviota 2

Hoka One One
Graviota
Jump to Our Review

Gravity Defyer Mens G-Defy Iokia ll

Gravity Defyer
 Iokia II
Jump to Our Review

Altra Mens Olympus 3

Altra Men's Olympus 3 Trail Shoe
Jump to Our Review

Orthofeet Mens Avery Island

Orthofeet 410
Extra Depth Shoe 
Jump to Our Review

MBT Mens Zee 18

MBT Sport 3
Walking Shoes
Jump to Our Review


Merrell MOAB Ventilator II

For Gait Type
Neutral

For Arch Type
Normal

For Walk Type
Trail & Concrete

18% savings
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Vent
$89.84
(As of: 2019/12/15 12:14 am - Details)
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Merrel Shoes
93
Overall

Pros

  • Multiple Widths
  • Solid Construction
  • Durable Rigid Soles
  • Wider Toe Box
  • Very Comfortable
  • Shoe Type Version Available
  • Zoned Footbed
  • Waterproof Variation Available
  • 5 Star Walking Boot

Cons

  • A Little Heavy
  • Non-Waterproof Versions are Not Good in Wet Conditions

Merrell is a well respected manufacturer of outdoor shoes and boots.

The Men’s Moab Ventilator Mid Hiking Boot is a good choice for you if you are suffering with Hallux Limitus or Rigidus because it offers a quite firm sole shaped with a slight foot roll. It is also a mid style boot which provides good support to your ankles.

The fact that this is a trail shoe does not restrict it just to hiking activity, though if that is your walking activity then, great!

It is a good looking utilitarian boot that can also be worn for regular walkers who want more rigidity in their footwear.

If you want more of a shoe type styling then that is also available in this range though will not provide quite as much ankle support. 

There are also waterproof versions of both styles.

The shoe or boot comes with a zoned EVA footbed which provides heel support and shock absorption as well as good arch support.

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The Merrell Moab Ventilator II has a quite spacious toe box. But other shoes in my recommendations have more space which you might need if your feet are very wide in the toe area.

One similar shoe with a slightly wider toe box is the Keen Targhee III - a hiking style shoe with similar qualities to the Merrell Moab Ventilator.

As we have seen, shoes with a wider toe box are beneficial if you have hallux rigidus or hallux limitus as it allows your toes to spread out more and distribute the pressure across the forefoot.

The Keen’s have slightly more padding in the ankle area and more leather than mesh in the uppers. Slightly less stability in holding the ankle if walking over very uneven ground - which for most will not be overly relevant.

The sole is fairly rigid and has a slightly curved shape to encourage a rocker type action as you push off and in so doing promote less flex for your toes.

The Vibram sole is durable and rugged.

Cushioning from the insole is good through the length of the shoe. You’ll be able to add custom orthotics if you need as the insoles are removable.

The upper is a mix of mesh and leather which gives some flexibility whilst still giving some stability.

The breathable mesh lining also adds helps give some ventilation to the shoe.

The Merrell Ventilator II is available in wide and normal width fittings but comes up slightly narrow wherease the Keen Targhee is available in Medium & Wide and comes up a little wider in the last.

The takeaway is if you have a slightly wide foot go for the wide fitting in the Merrell and normal in the Keen.

For the Merrells you may normally need to go up half a size in length too.

If taking my recommendation to wear thicker socks (assuming you are not living in a hot and arid climate), then go for the wider fitting.

MERRELL BEHIND THE SHOE MOAB 2 SD

Altra Lone Peak 4

For Gait Type
Mainly Neutral

For Arch Type
Normal

For Walk Type
Trail & Concrete

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Altra Shoes
94
Overall

Pros

  • Wide Toe Box
  • Lightweight
  • Good Heel Cushioning
  • Neutral Shoe
  • Good Breathability
  • Waterproof Version Available
  • 5 Star Walking Shoe

Cons

  • Flex will likely need foot plates if Limitus is advanced
  • One Size width fittings

The Altra Lone Peak is another hiking style shoe.

Why is it on this list?

The Altra has a Footshape Toe Box which is a wider toe box than normal, shaped to your foot shape rather than shaped to look pretty on Italian Feet. This means you have a little room to move your toes - just what you need as a sufferer of hallux limitus.

The zero drop design also leaves your big toe unflexed as a starting point which will likely mean less maximum dorsiflexion at push off and therefore less pain for hallux rigidus sufferers.

The soles are ruggedly stiff as you might expect in a proper trail shoe and the midsole comes with a 5 mm thick contoured insole.

The sole is less shaped for the rocking physiology of your gait which will be a downside if your Limitus is moving into the advances stage and potentially problem if you have Rigidus already.

A good looking shoe with a composite upper but deficiencies in the lacing system which starts a little too high up the foot.

You might try the addition of a separate lace to the bottom two eyelets to tie down that area tightly and allow a looser tension in the upper foot lacing.

Takeaway for this shoe is to be prepared to swap out the insole and / or add carbon plates if you find the flex too much for your toe. This is a more athletic style trail shoe than the Moab & Keen discussed earlier and so flex in the toe is greater.

For sizing, the shoes come up pretty true to size.

It is a lightweight shoe yet durable not to mention comes in a wide array of colours so you can stand out.

The only downside of this shoe over the others is that the sizing is limited to Medium width which will force slightly wider footed guys to size up and wide footed folk out of the running so to speak, so far as this shoe goes.

Still worth a look as the Charcoal / Dark Red shoe looks pretty good!


Hoka One One Gaviota

For Gait Type
Mild Overpronator

For Arch Type
Flat to Normal

For Walk Type
Concrete & Casual

Hoka One One Mens Gaviota
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(As of: 2019/12/15 12:14 am - Details)
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Hoka One Shoes
89
Overall

Pros

  • Good Balance of Cushion & Stability 
  • Breathable Uppers
  • Cushioned and comfortable
  • Rocker for Toe Off
  • Loads of Width Fitings
  • Good Toe Box

Cons

  • Not for Supinators
  • Color styles limite

Hoka One One is the new kid on the block.

Out of interest Hoka One One well relatively speaking anyway.

The company is focused on providing shoes with wider sole that is highly cushioned. Originally they set out to make a running shoe where runners could run downhill in comfort.

The branding comes from the Māori word to fly and cushioning certainly makes you feel like walking on marshmallows.

So how does this help your big toe that doesn't want to flex very much because of hallux limitus?

If you are running downhill the main problem is your foot is in the end of the toe box the shoe.

This is exactly the problem that you want to avoid with your inflexible big toe. And so they developed and insole that grabs the heel and better positions the foot to help prevent its slipping forwards into the end of the shoe box.

Coming onto the cushioning, it's all very well having a highly cushioned shoe but the problem with this is that if the cushioning is too much there is little to stop your foot overpronating. As we know this is not good for people with hallux rigidus and limitus.

So I looked at the Hoka One One Bondi 6 and a the Gaviota which I'm recommending here.

In contrast to the Bondi 6, the Gaviota provides a little less foot cushioning but much better stability and support. For this reason your overpronation should be reduced and the pressure on the ball of your foot near your big toe to be less.

If you're considering the Bondi 6, then give some thought as to whether this shoe will provide enough correction if you are an overpronator.

HOKA ONE ONE Mens Bondi 6
$168.60
(As of: 2019/09/17 11:11 pm - Details)
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This compensates for the slightly less cushioning in the shoe, but don't let me mislead you into thinking that she was not cushioned because it is cushioned more than most shoes on the market.

If you also offers J frame support which essentially means good heel shock absorbency and design that encourages lateral stability.

You'll probably also appreciate the meta rocker design in the forefoot which is meant to encourage the shoe to rock forwards as you approach the push off stage and would thus angle the shoe better to reduce flex in your big toe.

The shoe upper is a meshed design which helps the shoe be breathable and very lightweight.

I believe this to be the best shoe available for you if you have hallux limitus, overpronation, and are looking to do more strenuous walking exercise.

It's available in medium and wide sizes and since the last is slightly narrow, unless you have a foot that is on the narrow side of medium, I suggest you pick the wide fitting.

The Gaviota from HOKA ONE ONE

Gravity Defyer Iokia II 

For Gait Type
Mild Overpronator

For Arch Type
Flat/Normal & Wide Feet

For Walk Type
Power & Regular Walking

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Gravity Defyer Shoes
82
Overall

Pros

  • Purposely made for wide footed walkers

  • Great Cushioning
  • Good toe box dimensions
  • Removable insole
  • Medium & Wide Fittings

Cons

  • A bit pricey but good.
  • Limited Colors
  • Add 1/2 size for custom orthotics

Gravity Defyer Is a shoe company that reduces shoes the sole specific foot problems.

Their main focus is on reducing pain from plantar fasciitis, arthritis and for diabetics.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, as my father did, then any jarring of the joints is extremely painful because the bones impact together where the cartilage has disintegrated. Shoes for people suffering from arthritis need to be well cushioned.

Diabetics need particular attention to the soft part of their feet such as the heels and the balls of their feet, to protect against impact forces which cause pain in those areas.

Shoes made for diabetics tend to have better cushioning in the heel and toe area.

Plantar fasciitis is a complication arising from the tiering of the plantar fascia.

It requires shoe that supports the entire base of the foot with adequate support for the heel arch to reduce the amount of flex which stretches the plantar fascia.

You should immediately see that all these points apply to various degrees to you as a person with hallux limitus or rigidus. 

It's for this reason that I studied the shoes available from Gravity Defyer.

The Gravity Defyer Iokia LI has a shock resistant sole which provides good grip to the floor.

The sole coupled with the in the sole provides good cushioning and support. You may find that you wish to use your own custom orthotics, and I suggest this is probably a good idea, so it's good that the insoles to this shoe are removable.

Another feature of the sole is the moderate rocker type design, with the front of the shoe designed to roll forward with your foot, reducing flex in the toe area for the shoe and also for your big toe.

The last thing you want is a shoe that flexes unduly at the front and puts pressure on your toe joints at the crease.

Toe box is roomy as you might expect which is another plus, and the midfoot is supported which will reduce overpronation and provide support to the arch.

The uppers are made of leather, which makes the shoe durable but less breathable than the mesh type materials.

Available in black and white with either lace up or Velcro options and in medium and wide fittings. The white shoe will be particularly of interest to people working in the medical field such as nurses with Hallux Limitus.

Howie Mandel On Lopez Tonight, showing off his new Gravity Defyer Footwear

New Balance 928v3

For Gait Type
Overpronator

For Arch Type
Flat - Normal

For Walk Type
Concrete & Casual

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New Balance Shoes
86
Overall

Pros

  • Good for Health Care Professionals
  • Leather Uppers
  • Rollbar to Counter Overpronation
  • Lots of Width Fittings
  • Lightweight
  • Strike Path Gait Assistance

Cons

  • If loose, tie into topmost lace holes
  • You might want more cushioning
  • Custom orthotics might make shoe a bit tight in the toes depending on Orthotic.

The new balance 928 version 4 offers a shoe with a rigid sole and moderately good sized toe box.

The classic design is a midsole with rollbar technology that reduces the tendency for overpronation which will help take the pressure off the ball of your foot under the big toe joint.

The shoe also comes with design features that encourage a straight walking strike path in the footbed is quite supportive. That said, if you're looking to provide carbon far fibre footbed inserts to reduce flex further then you appreciate the fact that the supplied insoles are removable.

The uppers provided with either a leather or synthetic mesh design, so you can choose between breathability and durability.

The shoe is made in the USA which may lead you to believe that the quality and sizing may be better than those made in Asia.

The shoe has a 12 mm drop and so in recommending this shoe I am mindful that it is probably better suited to those with early stages of hallux limitus than those with dorsiflexion of the big toe is already very limited as is teh case with hallux rigidus sufferers.

The shoe is available in Medium and Wide fittings and the shoe generally fits true to size but if you want to wear thicker socks or custom orthotics then I suggest you order a half size larger.


Altra Mens Olympus 3

For Gait Type
Normal

For Arch Type
Normal

For Walk Type
Casual & Concrete

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Altra Shoes
95
Overall

Pros

  • Good Wide Toe Box
  • Great Brand
  • Excellent Cushioning
  • Breathable Upper
  • Good Fit with Space
  • Removable insoles 

Cons

  • Only Medium Width Fitting
  • For Beginning Stages of Limitus Mostly
  • Better Insoles May Be Needed

Altra is another company that makes shoes with a foot shape shoebox. As a result the toe box is wider to give the toes more space to do their job.

The footbed is designed with zero drop which promotes a more upright posture as well as less flex in the big toe.  Their trail shoes have a moderately rigid sole to reduce flex in the toe area.

The overall last of the sole is wide to give better stability and counter overpronation.

Cushioning from the midsole and insole is good, with the five millimetre insole providing moderate support.

There is slightly less rocker design to the forefoot area and the flexible upper may need to be adjusted by the use of carbon fibre foot plates.

As for the insoles, you are quite likely to find that a premium insole give better results, particularly as there is no specific features to seat the foot securely within a shoe.

This can be partly offset by ensuring that the shoe is laced right up to and including the top holes. In order to do this you may want to consider using a separate lace for the bottom to lay soles to better secure the shoe to your foot.

Overall this is another shoe that is better suited to you if you have the early onset of hallux limitus rather than if you are the later stages with hallux rigidus where dorsiflexion is very limited. The shoe is probably not suited to you if you have hallux rigidus.


Orthofeet 410 

For Gait Type
Overpronator

For Arch Type
Flat - Normal

For Walk Type
Formal & Casual

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Orthofeet Shoes
90
Overall

Pros

  • Dress Shoe Option
  • Wide Spacious Shoe
  • Designed for Cushion
  • Designed for Metatarsal Support
  • Looks OK
  • Many Width Fittings
  • Wide Throat for Fitting by Lacing

Cons

  • Bit Clumpy Looking
  • Limited Feature

Orthofeet is a shoe company specialises in manufacturing shoes for people with foot issues, of which hammocks limitus is one.

If you're looking for a more formal style shoe that will provide good cushioning all day and a wide range of with fittings coupled with ample size toe boxes, then this shoe should fit your needs.

The shoe does not have a particularly rigid stole but does have an excellent support insole particularly to the total areas and excellent cushioning and shock absorption to the heels.

The shoe last is generally roomy but the white throated lacing area is perfectly suited to lacing adaptation to achieve better fit. It also makes the shoe easier to put on which you will appreciate as a hullux limitus sufferer.

With shoe with fittings ranging from narrow through to extra extra-wide and half sizes in the length will be sure to find a shoe that fits your particular foot shape.

The shoe has removable orthotics but you should try the supplied one before jumping to change. The internal size of the shoe is well-suited to accept carbon fibre foot plates and alternative orthotics to suit your personal circumstances.

Trying to find dress shoes that cater for hallux rigidus or limitus is extremely difficult unless shoes are being made to measure in which case their horrendously expensive.

I believe this casual cum dress shoe provides a good balance between design style, formal requirements and general overall comfort for you if you have hammocks limitus or hallux rigidus.


MBT Men's Sport 3

For Gait Type
Neutral

For Arch Type
Normal

For Walk Type
Flat Surfaces & Standing

MBT Shoes Men's Sport 3
$189.95
(As of: 2019/12/15 12:14 am - Details)
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MBT Shoes
94
Overall

Pros

  • A Lot of Cushioining
  • Good for Flat Surfaces
  • Lightweight
  • Minimal Toe Drop
  • Rocker Bottom
  • Multi-Purpose
  • Good Toe Box
  • Good For People Who Have to Stand All Day

Cons

  • Not Good For Uneven Surfaces
  • Limited Ankle Support

If you're looking for the shoe with a definite rocker bottom but without sacrificing too much in the way of stability then the MBT men's sport three walking shoes may be your answer.

MBT shoes are consistently well cushioned and these have a moderate rocker sole for those who are standing on their feet all day at work, or for those walking on concrete floors with flat and stable surfaces.

Please note that the rocker bottom design does result in somewhat less stability laterally and so your ankles have to do more work to maintain your posture. This is more a problem where the services are uneven rather than if you're walking on say a warehouse floor or hospital corridor.

But the rocker bottom sole does help you as a hallux limitus or rigidus sufferer as it provides an angled platform for your foot to push off against and therefore less flex in the big toe.

The MBT shoe has synthetic mesh upper which allow some breathability and the design is not too sporty to allow you a flexible range of situations in which the shoe is appropriate.

Shoe has good shock absorbing qualities and is a slightly wider fit than most normal medium fitting shoes with reasonable toe box room.

However the shoe is only available in medium size, so if you have quite wide feet they probably will not fit very well. You may also need to buy a half size larger especially if you intend to fit customer orthotics


Image of Normal Foot Flexion

Hallux Normal No Limitus

What is Hallux Limitus?

Hallux Limitus is a condition where the rotation of the big toe vertically (dorsiflexion) becomes limited (hence 'Limitus'). If untreated, with wear, over time the condition will worsen and cause arthritis in the big toe.

Image of Hallux Limitus Limited Movement

Hallux Limitus

What is Hallux Rigidus?

Hallux Rigidus is the condition where the metatarsal joint of the big toes becomes fused together preventing the big toe from any vertical movement - the end stage of Hallux Limitus if you will.

Image of Hallux Rigidus Flex Impossible

Hallux Rigidus

Hallux Rigidus is the condition when the metatarsal joint of the big toe can no longer be moved. The metatarsal joint is the joint where your toe bone joins your main foot structure.

The condition starts out as Hallux Limitus, which is a gradually more restrictive ability to flex the big toe without pain. In layman’s terms that simply means that your ability to move you big toe vertically up gradually lessens or becomes more limited - hence the latin word Limitus.

Hallux is simply the latin word to describe the big toe.

As the condition worsens, arthritis sets in and the tissues protecting your big toe, bone to bone metatarsal joint, wear away causing pain. Eventually the toe cannot be flexed at all. At this stage the Hallux Limitus has become Hallux Rigidus.

There are various causes of the condition which your doctor can expand upon but suffice to say if you are an overpronator then quite often your overpronation can lead to Hallux Limitus.

There is often no pain at the beginning stages but if you have any pain in your foot it is really very important to get a medical examination and not just to leave it.

I know it is a pain [sic] to go see the doctor or podiatrist but treatment will certainly slow down and possibly arrest the condition. Not least because you will be told to wear proper footwear.

You will certainly be glad to avoid the pain that will come along if you do nothing! Getting the best shoes for hallux rigidus or hallux limitus will go a long way to reducing the pain it causes.

Once the limitation in movement gets down to less than about 25 degrees, pain will occur if the alignment of your foot needs to flex your big toe back further than is comfortable for the joint. This not only hurts but leads to joint inflammation.

As pronation increases, 1st MPJ maximum dorsiflexion during gait decreases - Faculty of Health Sciences, Staffordshire University, UK.
Image of Overpronator Foot Pressure Transfer Through Gait Cycle

Overpronator Foot Pressure Transfer Through Gait Cycle

It should be understood that overpronation is a leading factor in the onset of the condition.

This is because overpronation is made worse by foot arches that collapse more than normal (encouraging overpronation) thereby causing the big toe joint to change its orientation.

Apart from that you’ll see that as the foot rotates inwards from the overpronation, more weight is pushed onto the inside larger pad of the ball of your foot right under the big toe.

This means the big toe has to work harder to propel your forward at the push off which causes even more pain.

Carbon Fibre Contoured Insoles

Carbon fibre contoured insoles provide a more rigid base to the sole of the foot which helps to limit vertical motion of your toes and particularly in the case of hammocks limitus the big toe.

Suitable for both exercise and work for casual wear they are about 2 mm thick in general and sits underneath the insole so that the cushioning and hopefully heel placement features of the insole can still work for you.

If you are using this type of insole then you will probably be using custom orthotics as well which will increase the depth of the footbed by about 5 mm which is significant given that the difference in sizes between medium and wide shoes and between half sizes in length is really quite small.

Therefore if your condition requires the additional rigidity that these inserts provide, be sure to order an additional width fitting so there is sufficient room in the shoe.

There are steel versions of these rigid plates but they are really no comparison to the carbon fibre alternative.

Orthotic Inserts Help Support Foot Arches and Provide Cushioning

Orthotic Inserts Help Support Foot Arches and Provide Cushioning

Orthotic Inserts

Orthotic inserts are an excellent upgrade to your shoes, providing much better shock absorbing and arch support than most shoe brands provide as standard.

Insoles will provide cushioning and protection to the heel, arch and toe area but typically run thicker than the five mm or thinner inserts provided with most shoes

So as I said above, you will need to consider whether it's likely you will fit upgraded insoles or not and if so be sure to order a at least a half size longer than otherwise recommended.

Closer Look at Important Features in Shoes to Help with Hallux Limitus & Rigidus

Rigid Soles

The list at the top of this article starts with rigid soles.

If you are suffering from Hallux Limitus or Rigidus then this is the main item. I am sure you will have guessed why!

If the sole flexes then your big toe is going to have to flex with it - and that causes the pain in your big toe joint. On the other hand, if the sole is more rigid then it will maintain shape as you push off causing less flex of the toe joint.

This is the reason the running shoes that are recommended on so many sites are simply not suitable for you and will cause you more pain than you have to endure.

Depending upon how much walking you intend doing, you should be looking at thick soles that are cushioned if you are not walking too much. But if you intend walking a lot then you should either opt for a trail type shoe with a firm sole and even better, a shoe with torsional control too.

If you are just walking normally or back and forward at work then you can go for a slightly more flexible trainer type shoe with stability of motion control features or a dress shoe with a fairly inflexible sole.

Ample Width Toe Box

If you have pain in your toes then the last thing you want is for the shoe to be squashing them in a position that might be uncomfortable. You want the option for your toes to spread out a little within the toe area and do the job they are designed for. You do not want to add to any pressure on your big toe.

Add to this the fact that most people with hallux rigidus or limitus will be quite likely to have flat feet which tend to be wider than feet with normal or high arches.

So a wide toe box allows the foot a little space to move the toes around as needed. But is is also important that the foot is securely seated as you do not want it moving around in the shoe. So there is a balance between a toe box that is too tight for your foot and one that allows your foot too much room,.

I guess I should also mention the upper material here. There are pros and cons on this point.  A more rigid material which will give the shoe more structure and stability but may put pressure on your toes or rub them if too tight. A more flexible material will be less likely to cause rubbing sores but will offer no protection and less shoe stability.

The better option is a matter of taste but if opting for the more rigid uppers then you might consider wearing thicker socks to give a bit more comfort around your feet but allow an additional half size to one size bigger if you do decide that is a good idea. The downside is that your feet might get a bit hot.

Image of Right Foot Showing Pronation & Supination

Pronation & Supination Showing Right Foot

Control Of Overpronation

I explained above how overpronation causes the foot to roll inwards which means that your weight will be taken more by the ball of your foot near your big toe and right under the joint affected by Hallux Limitus.

So any contribution the shoe can give to controlling roll inwards is a good thing.as it will also decrease flex and enable the forces of your weight to be taken with a more even distribution pattern. This will reduce the loading on your painful big toe joint.

Shoes that are motion control or stabilising will therefore be beneficial unless you have been consciously compensating by supinating your foot to avoid pain. That is not a good place to be because it alters your natural gait, putting joints, muscles and bones into an unnatural alignment and eventually lead to pain in other areas.

That said if you do have an excessively supinating gait then go for a more neutral shoe rather than a motion control design

Rearfoot Positioning

Securing your ankle in place both laterally and in a front to rear (longitudinal) direction is important because if your foot is slipping in the shoe it will rub.

If it is moving frontwards and rearwards then things are even worse because your big toe will be hitting the end of the shoe in a constant ‘stubbing your toe’ action which is bound to aggravate your condition.

Therefore you should be looking for a shoe that features insoles that will seat your foot well or fit insoles specific for the purpose to replace those that came with the shoe.

Most of the shoes chosen here have good quality insoles but removable insoles are still important in case you decide the support is insufficient or just does not suit your foot. You may also decide to fit dancers pads to further reduce the forces on your big toe.

In which case you will be thankful you have a bigger toe box with room to accommodate them!

Rocker Sole Shoes

If you are standing around a lot of the time then a shoe with an exaggerated rocker bottom sole can be a good feature. A rocker bottom sole allows the foot to sort of roll through your gait and takes a lot of loading off your foot.

The issue with a shoe with an over pronounced rocker bottom is that lateral stability is sacrificed which will do nothing to stop any overpronation. The additional cushioning effect of the shoe will be countered by your foot having little to no counter to pronation.

That is fine for limited amounts of walking inside but is contraindicated for walking outside on uneven surfaces and for longer distances where you are quite likely to get ankle issues from compensating the lack of stability.

Low Drop from Heel to Toe

The drop is the vertical distance between the heel and the foot in the shoe.

If you think about it, any increase in the height of the heel above the ball of your toe will force the big toe up vertically. Dorsiflexion before you have even started any flex for push off will only increase the total degree of flex your toe has to contend with.

Therefore you should look for relatively low drop in the shoe so as to not make things worse before you even start walking.

When you are standing still you will not notice any difference from a shoe with a larger drop. When you are walking briskly is where drop will start to increase flex and pain levels.

Cushioning for Comfort

I included this last on the list but it is still an important consideration.

Cushioning can decrease rubbing, provide a soft surface for your feet and decrease impact forces because of the shock absorbing qualities of the materials used.

Not only that but who wants to walk around all day in uncomfortable shoes.

Unless you have some special circumstances it is a very good idea to look for a well cushioned shoe to increase your overall comfort level.

One last thing to mention is carbon footplates.

Footplates are either steel or carbon fibre but the carbon versions are better overall as they typically flex less than steel.

These plates are quite thin, sitting under the insole, providing a more rigid base for your foot and therefore decreasing flex at the big toe joint.

There are commercially made versions that do not require a super expensive custom made orthotic and still provide an excellent way to help reduce discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hallux Rigidus Limitus?

There is no such thing! There is Hallux Limitus which is a condition where the big toe is gradually less able to dorsiflex (meaning be bent vertically). There is also the condition of Hallux Rigidus which is where the big toe cannot be bent at all. Rigidus is where Limitus meets its end.

Are there exercises I can do to help Hallux Limitus?

There are some exercises that may help maintain flexibility.

The first is to put your foot over your knee and grab your big toe gently. Slowly pull the big toe back up in a direction towards your shin until you start to feel pain beginning and hold in this positon for about a minunte. Repeat several times a session and several sessions a day. This helps maintain the level of flexion you already have.

The second exercise is to pull your toe straight outwards and away from your foot until it is under tension. Then rotate it slowly around whilst under tension for a few minutes.