Best Men’s Walking Shoes for Hallux Rigidus & Limitus

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

Last Reviewed on 8 January 2019 - Complete Rewrite of Content with Latest Shoes.

About 3

by Curtis

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). 

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


Best 8 Men's Shoes for Hallux Limitus & Hallux Limitus 

Merrell MOAB Ventilator Trail

Altra Lone Peak 4.0 Trail Shoe

Hoka One One Graviota

Gravity Defyer
 Iokia II

Altra Men's Olympus 3 Trail Shoe

Orthofeet 410
Extra Depth Shoe 

MBT Sport 3
Walking Shoes

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!

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.


Merrell MOAB Ventilator II

For Gait Type
Neutral

For Arch Type
Normal

For Walk Type
Trail & Concrete

Merrel
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

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Altra Lone Peak 4

For Gait Type
Mainly Neutral

For Arch Type
Normal

For Walk Type
Trail & Concrete

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

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Hoka One One Gaviota

For Gait Type
Mild Overpronator

For Arch Type
Flat to Normal

For Walk Type
Concrete & Casual

Hoka One Logo
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

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Gravity Defyer Iokia II 

For Gait Type
Mild Overpronator

For Arch Type
Flat/Normal & Wide Feet

For Walk Type
Power & Regular Walking

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

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New Balance 928v3

For Gait Type
Overpronator

For Arch Type
Flat - Normal

For Walk Type
Concrete & Casual

New Balance
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.

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Altra Mens Olympus 3

For Gait Type
Normal

For Arch Type
Normal

For Walk Type
Casual & Concrete

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

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Orthofeet 410 

For Gait Type
Overpronator

For Arch Type
Flat - Normal

For Walk Type
Formal & Casual

Orthofeet
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

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MBT Men's Sport 3

For Gait Type
Neutral

For Arch Type
Normal

For Walk Type
Flat Surfaces & Standing

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

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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.

Insert Image

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 teh 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.

Best Men’s Walking Shoes for Hallux Rigidus & Limitus
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