What is Turf Toe?

June 7, 2018

Imagine this: You’re running down the field, swerving quickly past your opponents. You shift forward onto your foot to make your shot. That’s when you hear a pop.

Turf toe involves a sprain of ligaments around the big toe joint, prohibiting up and down motions. This sprain is most common in athletes who play sports on artificial turf, like football, soccer and gymnastics, and can occur after repeatedly pushing off of the big toe with force when running and jumping.


In the ball of your foot, behind the big toe joint, are your sesamoids. These two pea-shaped bones are located in the tendons that move your big toe, helping to provide leverage when you walk and run, and absorbing the weight placed on your foot.

As you run, your body weight moves forward onto the ball of your foot. When you push off to propel yourself forward, you begin to shift your weight to the other foot. If the big toe remains flat on the ground, rather than lifting off, athletes can run the risk of suddenly injuring the area around the joint. This is usually a sudden injury. It can happen in athletes that are performing in flexible, soccer-style shoes that allow the foot to bend too far forward.


Pain, swelling and limited joint movement are all common symptoms for those suffering from turf toe. For some athletes, when the injury occurs, a “pop” can be felt, resulting in limited toe movement. For others, the symptoms develop and worsen over time.


Like with most injuries, it’s important to rest and give yourself time to heal. Ice, compression and elevation are all great basic treatments to help restore your toe. If you experience turf toe, it is essential to keep your toe from moving, as well as making sure no weight is placed on the injured joint.


To avoid this injury, athletes should wear shoes with proper support. This will help to prevent the toe joint from excessive bending and force when running and walking. Another way to lower the risk of a turf toe injury is to adapt training techniques that help to reduce the chances of it occurring.

This article was adapted from WedMD. Read the full article here.

If you have any questions about turf toe, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.


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