Stop! Break it down...
I have unique feet. I have very high arches and hammer toes. If you don't know what hammer toes are, here, let me take you on a journey:
So my big toe is normal, but my other toes aren't. It might be a little weird to imagine, but when I am standing up straight barefoot, my toes don't even touch the ground and if they do, they do not exert any force whatsoever. The difference between me and you when standing is that you have a better base, because your toes are helping you balance. I am permanently teetering off balance and having to shift my weight, whereas your toes would just fix the situation with no problem.
This causes me a couple of problems in martial arts:
In grappling it means, due to the fact I have very little strength through my toes, my big toe is the only force generator from the ground. I literally envy people who are able to push off their toes, because mine seem to be there for aesthetic purposes only and I also have wonder if they are only there for aesthetics, then God is a funny ************.
In stand up it means there is basically a toe knuckle striking a surface when I kick. Yes, I'm using my shin, but there will always be the badly distanced throw and using Thai pads, well, I'm forever hitting the edge of them with the top second toe "knuckle". So much so that it is swollen and painful.
Scrunch your toes up. Do it now. Not under your front pad, but up, so they are like the picture. Now kick something like that repeatedly with force. Stop. Is your toe hurting? It is? You actually did that exercise? Thanks, man. I appreciate your attempting to sympathise.
I think I am causing fractures to the toe bones, maybe only tiny ones, by kicking.
Now, I'm assuming by sheer weight of numbers that someone has a similar problem. How do you solve it?
Is strapping the only way? And if so, HOW THE **** DO YOU STRAP SUCH A DEFORMED ALIEN FEATURE?
Break them first, strap them, hope they heal straight.
Originally Posted by battlefields
No need to thank me.
I've got a very light form of the "mallet toes" in combination with high arches (pain in the butt to get decent shoes) , but through the years of all the barefoot training all my toes have become thick and robust.
Originally Posted by battlefields
But this has had the side effect that I can't really bend my three smaller toes to push off from the mat when I'm grappling.
For grappling my teacher toughed me to put my toes more outwards than my heels when I was trying to push off the mat. From that position you can generate force from your big toe AND the ball of your foot just below the big toe. Normally that will suffice enough.
For striking: train your instep a lot on the punchingbag. The high arch in combination with 6 months of decent bagwork will strenghten it enough to resist an occasional impact when you miss with the shin.
Or start Savate, the shoes will protect your toes.
Best is to go see a specialist and see if they can't fix it, even if they can't get them 100% straight anymore, if they can get them to a light mallet toe shape, it will be a good improvement.
Once your smaller toes make contact with the ground, get some fivefinger shoes to sport in (run and/or walk), train as much barefoot if you can (no Wrestling shoes) and at home, walk around the house in your socks. This will all strengthen your toes.
Hope that this helps.