Tips and Advice

“My big toe is causing my knee pain?” 

Seems a little crazy, right? Well, hopefully after reading this article this will make a lot more sense. Just hear me out…

Your big toe, while seemingly insignificant, has a very important role in many of life’s functions. Let’s take walking for example. Have you tried walking WITHOUT pushing off of your big toe? Give it a try and let me know just how awkward this is. How about running? Or jumping? Research has shown limited big toe mobility to change mechanics at the ankle, knee, and hip during these activities (1), many of which we do each day. Unfortunately, when mechanics change so does force distribution and muscle utilization which leads to adaptation. And the problem with that? The adaptation is typically a negative one, leading to faulty movement patterns, tissue breakdown, and pain (usually in areas away from the foot, such as the knee, hip and even lower back).

I don’t expect you to break out a goniometer (a fancy name for a tool used to measure range of motion) and measure your big toe mobility, but a measurement of 60 degrees is usually pretty good. This video shows you another way to measure your big toe mobility as well as how to improve it. 

If you’re not sure about this technique or if you are having pain in the big toe, be sure to reach out to us and we will be happy to check it out for you. 

Until next time,

Dr. J.A. Graves, PT, DPT

(1) Hall, C. Nester, J. Sagittal plane compensations for artificially induced limitation of the first metatarsophalangeal joint: a preliminary study. J Am Podiatr Med Assoc2004.

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