Help I can't stop stubbing my toes
September 21, 2022 8:49 PM   Subscribe

This must be the randomest question ever but I need help. I keep stubbing my toes against things. A LOT of context below the fold.

For context, I've had to move back in open-endedly with elderly family to help with health stuff, and I keep stubbing my toes against various pieces of furniture. I have broken 2 toes in the last 2 months and I still haven't regained full feeling in one of my toes. Even when I don't cause myself lasting injury it is a source of pain and extreme irritation to me.

The reason I keep stubbing my toes against furniture is that this apartment is cluttered with too much stuff. While I wouldn't call my family hoarders exactly, they basically had to downsize from a big family house to a medium sized apartment a number of years ago, and have not gotten rid of ANY furniture. A lot of it is quite expensive and good quality and I guess has sentimental value. As a result, there aren't a lot of clear walkways in rooms, you are constantly navigating narrow pathways between random tables and chests of drawers and glass-fronted cabinets filled with crockery that as far as I can see is only there for decorative purposes. This is very much the case in the guest room I am living in, it is wall-to-wall crammed with furniture with a very narrow area left to walk in.

My grandmother will not hear of selling furniture (like I said, sentimental value) and there are no storage facilities in this country a la Access or SafeStore.

I am constantly tiptoeing and watching my step but I manage to stub my toes multiple times a week. Especially with all the caregiving stress (two of my relatives are elderly and unwell) I don't always have the headspace to also watch where I'm going.

We are a no-shoes-indoors household.

Any ideas to save my aching toes?
posted by unicorn chaser to Grab Bag (24 answers total)
I kept doing this, too. I've finally stopped. My doctor told me to stop walking around barefoot outside. Based on that, I recommend indoor-only shoes.
posted by aniola at 8:52 PM on September 21 [11 favorites]

Yes, get yourself a pair of house slippers or Crocs.
posted by rouftop at 8:56 PM on September 21 [6 favorites]

I had this problem until I bought a pair of Mahabis to wear around the house. They are slippers (very comfortable), that slide on/off with ease, and with hard soles that actually come up over the toe. Pricey, but how much are your toes worth to you?
posted by Toddles at 9:21 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! We do wear slippers at home but they don't cover the toes. 'No shoes indoors' is a very common Asian custom. I'll try to find a hot-weather equivalent to the Mahabis - I'm currently in a very hot country
posted by unicorn chaser at 9:27 PM on September 21

Yes, a special pair of shoes/slippers that you wear only indoors is the answer.
posted by metonym at 9:27 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

Along those lines, searching "flip flops with toe guard" yields possible solutions.
posted by happy_cat at 9:36 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]

I don't think this problem is exclusively solved with shoes. To continue barefoot- you have to go slower, and glide/slide your feet, feeling your way as if you were walking in the dark. Your foot should find the furniture and be able to stop before your toes are slammed.
posted by freethefeet at 9:59 PM on September 21 [5 favorites]

you need a pair of easy on/off slides that gets worn ONLY indoors. Mine are like this. The toe bed is significantly longer than the toes, so you're protected.
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:43 PM on September 21

Are you able to rearrange furniture at all? Keep it in the apartment but just Tetris it around for better walking?

I wonder if Croc style clogs which you reserve for indoors use would be the best toe buffer in the meantime. Crocs are light, can be washed if they feel too sweaty and have ventilation holes
posted by pipstar at 11:36 PM on September 21

So i realize my way of walking was optimized for barefeet life (it came up as an oddity during a random theatre rehearsal). It's something like freethefeet said: it seems that i don't land heel-first, it's toes front and ahead. There's a bit of slide/glide to it too - basically i 'scan' with my feet before fully landing on it. And i wouldn't want Crocs; if we have the same weather, those get hideously clammy no matter how well-ventilated it looks. If you're still thinking about a pair, ironically open-toed slippers should be sufficient, the ones with stiff rubber roles so it should protrude a bit to give your feet enough warning, but only if you walk toefall-first.
posted by cendawanita at 11:52 PM on September 21 [3 favorites]

Btw if switching your walking style takes too long and you're inclined to having shoes rather than stiffer-soled slippers, get those lightweight cotton ankle socks (easy to find in malls i reckon because of certain popular shoe styles), or even better (and if there's a Muji nearby i guarantee you can find them), the ones that only cover up to the top of your soles and sides of your feet - they're meant for those ballet flats without ruining the look. They'll go a long way in reducing sweat and overall humidity-guaranteed clamminess.
posted by cendawanita at 12:04 AM on September 22

Protecting your toes has been covered. Perhaps keep at it about the sale of some of the furniture though - this is not just a hazard to your toes but also a very real tripping hazard for your grandmother with all the problems that serious falls in the elderly can entail.

Does she accept certain authority figures who could weigh in on this - her faith leader, somebody in her neighbourhood, her GP etc? Hearing them state that this is a bad accident waiting to happen that may see her never leave hospital again may carry more weight than you saying it. My great grandmother's GP was amenable to having that kind of conversation after my mother explained to him the true state of her dementia, the state of the house etc because my great grandmother was adamant she was coping fine alone. The GP had treated the family for decades and he knew my mother wasn't exaggerating. So he sat my great grandmother down and literally told her he could not allow her to continue alone and she would have to move in with my mother, my aunt or move into a care home...and because she was still with it enough to be mad at my mother she called my aunt and asked to move in with her...two countries over...YMMV
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:09 AM on September 22 [5 favorites]

I've had to move back in open-endedly with elderly family to help with health stuff
My grandmother will not hear of selling furniture

If she won't hear of making the place livable for you, then leave. Put some value on your life and comfort, because they don't care.
posted by flimflam at 12:59 AM on September 22

Also, they're never going to move to a big place again. Eventually that furniture is going. It may as well be now.
posted by flimflam at 1:00 AM on September 22

Start getting rid of furniture, because sooner or later a family member will trip on it and probably break something. Then you’ll have to nurse them back to health, just in time for them to trip again and repeat the cycle.
posted by Slinga at 1:37 AM on September 22

Almost a decade ago I got this pair of house shoes from Keen, which are very similar to this current style. They have lasted nearly a decade and are still going strong but I might buy a replacement pair simply for hygiene reasons. Absolutely worth the money. The thing about Keens is that they have these big protective soles that wrap around the toes, so you have extra cushioning and structure there. As your toes are healing and going forward you might appreciate that. But those house shoes are great because they are comfortable enough to relax in, very easy to slip on and off (like for putting your feet on the couch) but structured and nice enough to wear outside. I usually wear mine for taking out the trash or doing other stuff in the garage because again, my toes are protected in them. The fuzzy lining means I’m comfortable without socks but can add them for warmth.

Unrelated to shoe recommendations, who is your grandmother keeping the furniture for? If the intention is to bequeath them to extended family members, maybe you can expedite the process. Reach out to folks, have them accept and arrange shipping or gently refuse. If she knows that the family won’t take things now, let alone after she’s passed, maybe she will let some of it go. It’s okay to keep furniture for sentimental reasons, but what about the things that aren’t sentimental? Like, is there the basic kitchen table and the nice dining table you never use? Maybe you can get rid of the basic table and get a quality table protector for the nice one and actually use it.
posted by Mizu at 1:41 AM on September 22 [2 favorites]

How are your toes getting stubbed? I.e. are they ramming table legs head-on, or are they getting stubbed from above, eg by hitting low horizontal items? That might help you see if your current house slippers are just not up to the task.

For instance, flat-soled flipflop style slippers are often designed to keep your foot relatively mobile whilst held between the thongs - this kind makes one more prone to frontal toe stubbing, as your feet can move around the foot bed (I have a lot of experience in toe stubbing). In this case you might find something with a defined footbed more suitable, as these tend to cradle the feet. For rammed-from-above, closed toe slippers would work better - even woven leather or equivalent might provide enough protection.

As for getting rid of furniture: would your grandmother be willing to start giving away cherished pieces to her grandchildren or relatives? If not - is there another spare room (eg an unused dining room) which can be given over to storing some of the furniture?

Depending on where you are in the world - you might also be able to rent a small godown or shed. It's worth asking around your social circles, especially any people who run small businesses that have storage needs and might rent or have storage space to rent. You could also ask about renting a store room in someone's house. It's a hassle but it seems worth it, not only to protect your toes but to prevent you from feeling like you are drowning in stuff.
posted by tavegyl at 3:26 AM on September 22 [2 favorites]

A lot of people have said it so far, but I am also joining the house Crocs chorus.

I also come from no shoes in the house people. I grew up in a very cluttered home. My mom smacked her feet into stuff CONSTANTLY, and always had at least one toe in a state of decrepitude at all times.

Shortly after I got my driver's license my brother and I snuck off to the Hallmark one day and bought my mom a pair of those fancy new Crocs shoes everyone was talking about. Came home and made her put them on. Indoor use only, Mom!

I don't think she's broken a toe in 20 whole years. She even takes them with her when she travels so she can wear them inside relatives' homes! True game changer. Please get yourself a pair of inside Crocs. No more harm will befall you.
posted by phunniemee at 4:49 AM on September 22 [3 favorites]

Keen has an assortment of slip on sandals with toe protection.

On another note, have you had a bone density test? Your toes are breaking rather easily.

And seconding the idea of convincing your elderly relative to give away some of the furniture to family members who will cherish it.
posted by mareli at 4:51 AM on September 22

Could you get some foam tubing to pad the furniture itself with? I have the vague suspicion that someone's going to say pool noodles are bad for antiques but perhaps lining such a thing with tape on the wood side would suffice?
posted by teremala at 5:03 AM on September 22 [1 favorite]

I've had this problem and my hot weather solution has been an pair of indoor-only birkenstock sandals - they have a very sturdy toebed with a raised barrier all the way around the edge, so it really protects the front of the toes.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:34 AM on September 22

If you can order Keens, the Shanti model is a slip-on and much more open than Crocs.

What about wrapping protrusions in layers of bubble-wrap? at least in your own room.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:50 AM on September 22

As a fellow toe-stubber, you have my sympathies!

You've gotten shoe advice, but maybe also you can break this down a bit, if, for example, one particular room arrangement or piece of furniture is a consistent culprit. maybe you can rearrange just that part?

Is any of this furniture for storage (chests, etageres)? Is it possible to put, say, a small table inside a bigger piece, under it, etc.? Could anything be hung on a wall, or stacked safely?
Of course all of that is a lot to put on you. If you have any local help/family, you might ask for help on the basis of protecting your relatives from injury but also to make it possible for, say, an EMT to make it to them in an emergency. Or to get out in case of fire. Or to use a walker or wheelchair.
posted by emjaybee at 10:31 AM on September 22

A question for you to consider: have your worst toe stubs coincided with particularly stressful or upsetting moments while caring for your elderly relatives? Sometimes it's easier to accidentally hurt ourselves when we're distressed. If this is a pattern for you, maybe you'll be able to recognize when you're upset and move more slowly and deliberately as a precaution.

And of course a I nth the suggestion to get toe-protecting indoor shoes.
posted by purple_bird at 2:08 PM on September 22 [1 favorite]

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