Surf n’ Turf Toe

Turf Toe is a fairly common issue that comes around this time of year, particularly in younger athletes getting back into fall and winter sports.  People start running and planting and sprinting and jumping and cutting after a long summer of not doing much those things.  Sometimes that requires a small adjustment period of getting used to these activities again to get the toes loosened up, but other times there are individual deficits a person may have that predispose them to injury.

Turf toe typically occurs from repetitive and/or forceful planting on the big toe.  This can lead to the toe moving too quickly in one direction, leading to a sprain of the ligaments around the big toe.  To prevent this from occurring, there are a few areas that we tend to consider.

Mobility of the big toe and ankle strength are physical factors that can significantly contribute to the prevention of turf toe.

  • Toe mobility – Big toe extension (the ability of the toe to elevate from the ground) is a vital motion to have for anyone who will be doing a lot of running, cutting, or sprinting.  Here’s a stretch for improving toe extension.  You should be able to get to at least 70 degrees.  Try 10-15 reps of 5-10 second holds.
  • Ankle strength – Having strong ankles helps transfer force from your foot to your knee and hip, and can save the big toe from doing all the work.  Single leg calf raises will help quite a bit to build up ankle strength and control.  Rise up quickly, hold at the top for 2-3 seconds, and slowly lower yourself down on a 2-4 second count.  Work up to 15-20 repetitions.

Naturally there are a ton of other factors, including a proper fit for shoes, running mechanics, and even cardiovascular endurance.  Trying to correct your physical limitations can make a huge impact in reducing your risk for turf toe.  So get a leg (or toe) up on the competition and start working on your feet!

WebMD also has some great information on turf toe if you’re interested in some additional reading.

Got questions?  Feel limited in what you’re able to do?  The staff at Limitless Physical Therapy in Eugene, OR can show you how to be limitless. Contact us to connect with on of our PTs. Or follow us on Facebook.

***The above information, including text, images, and all other materials, is provided for educational purposes only, and not as a replacement or supplement to professional medical advice.  Please contact a certified healthcare professional or your primary physician for any personal concerns.

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