A hammer toe is a toe that bends down toward the floor at the middle toe joint. It usually happens in the second toe. This causes the middle toe joint to rise up. Hammer toes often occur with bunions (hallux valgus).
While there are several causes of hammer toe, tight shoes are the most common. A tight shoe, such as a high heel, can sometimes force a toe to stay in a bent position for too long, making the muscles tighten and the tendons contract.
Over time, the toe muscles cannot straighten the toe, even if you are not wearing shoes.