When I first saw runners on Instagram wearing what looked like pedicure toe separators, I was skeptical to say the least. There are a lot of gimmicky fitness products out there, yet people were talking up these things called YogaToes.
The website claims they are a “simple, one-step way to soothe achy feet and fit foot problems, including bunions and plantar fasciitis.” They’re designed to fit between and beneath your toes, gently spreading them apart and away from the balls of your feet. The company claims that these simple jelly separators help bring circulation to your feet. After wearing them regularly, the joints in your toes should begin to relax and realign, and the surrounding tissue become more supple and strong.
So I ordered a pair of the YogaToes Gems ($36.95, yogatoes.com) while beginning my training block for the 2019 Tokyo Marathon. I put them on one evening after a short run after work. The instructions said to “build up” first by only wearing them for 10–15 minutes at a time. I sort of laughed that off; surely I’d be able to wear them as long as I want.
Wrong. So wrong. My feet were cramping up after just a few minutes. I barely made it to 15 minutes, feeling constant discomfort; my right foot was cramping at the arch. But after I took them off—I looked down and my toes were more splayed out than I had seen them look in I can’t tell you how long. They felt relaxed.
I started using them pretty religiously. After a long day in heels or a hard run, I’d come home, roll out my feet a little with a lacrosse ball, then hop into bed or onto the couch and put on my YogaToes. After a few months of consistent use, I definitely noticed a difference. I could wear them for 30 minutes to an hour at a time without cramps or discomfort. My feet felt less tense overall, especially the balls of my feet and my arches.
More than anything, it instilled a simple habit of recovery and downtime that I had not put into my training before. We don’t give our feet a ton of thought, but we should. They are, after all, the foundation from which the rest of our strength stems. I don’t know that YogaToes are some unlike-anything-else miracle product, but they definitely made an impact on my training and have become a part of my day that I look forward to.