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Relieving Pain and Stiffness from Hallux Rigidus: The Best Comfort Footwear 2023

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Close-up of feet affected by hallux rigidus, showing the bunion and stiffness in the big toe joint
Hallux Rigidus – a painful condition that causes stiffness in your big toe joint.


Hallux rigidus is a condition that affects your big toe joint, causing stiffness and limited movement. It is a form of osteoarthritis that affects the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which is the joint at the base of your big toe. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, and difficulty bending the toe. It can be a frustrating and painful condition that can greatly impact the quality of life of the sufferer. While this condition can be caused by wear and tear, injury or a congenital condition, proper footwear can help alleviate pain and stiffness.

In this blog post, we will explore the importance of proper footwear for managing hallux rigidus, and advise you on what you should be looking for when shopping for shoes to manage this condition. We will also introduce you to the different types of comfort footwear available, and give you tips on how to choose the right shoes for hallux rigidus. We hope this information will help you make an informed decision when choosing footwear to manage hallux rigidus, and help you find the most comfortable and supportive shoes for your feet.

Please remember this blog is purely informative. It is not meant to be advice, nor a substitute for any treatment plan you may have already been prescribed by a medical professional. If you want a detailed overview of hallux rigidus or osteoarthritis causes and symptoms, we recommend checking out the NHS website for the most accurate information.

Understanding hallux rigidus

Manage your Hallux Rigidus symptoms with the right footwear.

Hallux rigidus is caused by wear and tear on the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint, which is the joint at the base of the big toe. The condition can also be caused by injury or a congenital condition such as a bunion.


As the condition progresses, the cartilage begins to deteriorate, causing pain and stiffness in the joint. Hallux rigidus progresses through four stages, each characterized by specific symptoms and limitations in range of motion.

  • Stage 1: In the early stage, the joint may be stiff and sore, but there is still good range of motion. Pain is usually only present with certain activities.
  • Stage 2: As the condition progresses, the joint becomes more stiff and movement is more limited. Pain is present with more activities and may be present even when not moving the joint.
  • Stage 3: In this advanced stage, the joint is severely stiff and movement is greatly limited. Pain is present even when not moving the joint and can be severe.
  • Stage 4: In the final stage, the joint is fused and movement is not possible. Pain is usually not present in this stage because the joint can no longer move.

Common complications of hallux rigidus include difficulty walking, pain in the affected area, and difficulty finding footwear that actually helps. In addition, if left untreated, hallux rigidus can lead to other problems with your feet such as hammer toes, calluses, and chronic foot pain.


Diagnosis of hallux rigidus is typically made through a physical examination and x-rays, which can show the degree of arthritis present in the joint. Treatment options for hallux rigidus include physical therapy, medication, and in severe cases, surgery. However, in many cases, proper footwear can help alleviate pain and stiffness associated with hallux rigidus.

It is important to note that early diagnosis and treatment of hallux rigidus can help slow the progression of the condition and reduce the likelihood of complications. For professional advice on hallux rigidus, consult a podiatrist. You can find your most local registered podiatrist by using this free online tool, or by following this link –

importance of proper footwear

A pair of black trainers with an orthotic on display - a device that is worn in shoes to provide additional comfort, support, and stability.
Orthotics are used in your footwear to provide extra support, comfort, & stability.

Now hopefully you have some insight into this condition and how it can affect your feet, let’s talk about shoes, as we’ve established that proper footwear is crucial for managing hallux rigidus symptoms. The right shoes can help alleviate pain and discomfort, as well as allow your feet to go through a normal range of motion to help you walk. When shopping for shoes to manage hallux rigidus, it is important to look for shoes that provide support, cushioning, and are a good fit.


Shoes with good arch support can help distribute weight evenly across the foot, reducing pressure on the MTP joint. This can help reduce pain and stiffness in the joint. Wearing the right level of arch support for your feet can also help prevent other painful foot-health conditions forming, such as plantar fasciitis.


Wearing footwear with ample cushioning can help alleviate the discomfort caused by hallux rigidus by reducing the shock and impact on the affected joint during walking. Cushioning will not improve your mobility, but it may help to ease your pain a little bit. Do not go too extreme though, shoes that are too soft will just create an unstable environment for your feet which can lead to more problems.


Shoes that fit well can help reduce pressure on your joint, as well as help to prevent blisters, calluses, and other foot problems developing. The toe box is a super important part of the shoe as well – it needs to be wide enough to accommodate your toes without constricting them. Even if you have hallux rigidus, your toes still need plenty of room to function correctly. If your toes feel squashed together, the shoe is too small or narrow for your feet.

In addition to these features, it’s important to consider the shape of the shoe and how it accommodates the bunion, or any other foot deformity, as well as the material of the shoe, to make sure it is breathable and comfortable. If you need help finding a shoe that fits this criteria, we have a team of experts on stand-by to help. Just book a free video call and we can walk you through some options (no pun intended).


It’s important to keep in mind that every person’s needs are different when it comes to managing hallux rigidus. If you have lost mobility in the big toe, it might be difficult for you to get shoes on and off. In this case, it’s important to focus on finding shoes that are easy to put on your feet, such as shoes with a wide opening and adjustability. Additionally, if you have a hard time putting on shoes, shoes with a back opening or a heel loop can also be helpful.

It’s important to consider your own needs and limitations when shopping for shoes to manage hallux rigidus, and to keep in mind that the right shoe for one person may not be the best choice for another. For this reason, we’d always recommend having a chat with us through a free video call, or speaking with your GP or podiatrist.

rocker sole shoes

A rocker sole shoe can help by offloading pressure in your forefoot.

A rocker sole is a type of shoe sole that has a rounded or curved shape, allowing for a smoother, rolling motion as you walk. This design helps to offload pressure from the forefoot and redistribute it throughout the shoe, reducing stress and pain in the affected area. Rocker soles can be especially beneficial for you if you have hallux rigidus, as they allow your feet to go through a more natural range of motion and reduce the need for excessive bending at the big toe joint. Shoes with rocker soles can be a great choice for reducing pain and improving comfort if you are suffering with this condition.

At, we offer a range of rocker sole styles from HOKA and Xsensible. HOKA are running trainers but they’re incredible at offloading forefoot pressure to help ease pain. You can see our range of HOKA footwear here.

Xsensible are more fashion-focused choice, though not every Xsensible shoe has a rocker sole. You can see our Xsensible rockers here – though if you have seen one you like and you’re unsure about it, we’d suggest you just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help you. If you want to learn more about rocker sole shoes, we have written a blog that talks about them more in-depth. You can view that blog here. (LINKKKKK)


A person inserting orthotic inserts into their shoes to help alleviate symptoms of hallux rigidus in the big toe joint"

Your podiatrist may prescribe orthotics to help with your treatment plan for hallux rigidus. These orthotics can help redistribute weight, improve alignment and provide extra support to the foot. However, it is important to note that these orthotics will need to be in good footwear that supports their use, otherwise they will not work properly. The shoe needs to have good solid structure, and enough room to house the orthotic without making the shoe too small. Shop shoes for orthotics here, or read our guide on how to find the right shoes for your orthotics here. (LINKKKKK)

what to avoid

When it comes to managing hallux rigidus, it’s important to avoid certain types of shoes that can exacerbate pain and stiffness. These include:

overly flexible shoes

Shoes that are too flexible can put an excessive amount of stress on your big toe joint, leading to overreliance on the joint and potentially worsening your pain and discomfort.

high heels

Sorry ladies! High heels put way too much pressure on the forefoot and can exacerbate the pain in your big toe joint. It’s best to avoid high heels or to limit their use as much as possible. If you have to wear something with a heel because of a uniform, then we’d suggest you limit yourself to a heel height of one inch.


While cushioning can help absorb shock and reduce pain, overly cushioned/memory foam shoes can be too soft to the point they’re too unstable and may not provide enough structure for your feet. Feet need to be relaxed to function correctly, and they will not be able to relax if they are in too unstable of an environment.


When it comes to finding the right shoes for hallux rigidus, it’s important to know where to look. At our store, we offer a wide range of shoes that are suitable for managing hallux rigidus. We’ve gone through each one of these shoes and identified whether or not it can help relieve symptoms, using our combined experience as shoe-fitters.

We understand that every person’s needs are different when it comes to managing hallux rigidus however, which is why we offer a free video consultation service, where you can book a call and have a chat with one of our shoe-fitting experts. We’ll have a chat with you about your needs and make some personalised suggestions based on what we think will work.

For professional advice on hallux rigidus, you should always consult a podiatrist. We can offer advice on footwear, but a podiatrist will be able to accurately assess & diagnose you, as well as suggest the best course of action you should take. You can find your local registered podiatrist by using this free online tool, or by visiting


In conclusion, hallux rigidus can be a painful and debilitating condition, but the right footwear can make a big difference in reducing pain and improving mobility. Shoes with cushioning and rocker soles can help offload pressure from the affected area and allow for a more natural range of motion. While it’s important to find the right fit and style for you, starting with shoes that offer adequate support and comfort is key.

If you’re looking for help finding the right shoes for your needs, consider booking a video call for personalized suggestions or start shopping now at for a wide selection of supportive footwear. Don’t let hallux rigidus hold you back, take control and find the relief you deserve today!

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