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How Turf Toe Develops (and What You Can Do About It)

 

Turf toe strikes again!

Earlier this season, two-time Pro Bowler Matt Forte of the New York Jets missed two games with this intensely frustrating toe injury. Turf toe is fairly common among football players—particularly running backs, receivers, and other “skill” players. However, don’t think you’re immune from this injury just because you don’t play football or don’t play on artificial turf!

First things first, though. What is turf toe? The easiest answer is that it’s a sprain of the joint at the base of the big toe. Most of the time, the injury is a sudden and painful response to a traumatic hyperextension of the toe. For example, let’s say you’re attempting to evade a tackle, start to push off—and then, while your toe is still flat on the turf but your heel is in the air, someone falls on the back of your calf. This causes the toe to bend further than it’s supposed to, tearing the ligaments that support it. Ouch!How Turf Toe Develops

That said, turf toe doesn’t have to happen instantly. You could simply weaken the ligaments in the joint little by little over time due to repetitive straining and pressure. Any sport that involves a lot of straight-ahead running, jumping, or quick direction changes could put your feet in this situation.

As you can see, sometimes turf toe develops due to good old fashioned bad luck—not much you can do if somebody falls on your leg. However, there are some manageable risk factors:

  • Playing surfaces. Artificial turf is generally regarded to be more dangerous than grass, mainly because the playing surface has less “give” (so it’s harder) and more “grip” (so your cleat is more likely to stick). Likewise, if you like to run, softer and flatter trails are less risky than tough, hard terrain.
  • Footgear. Turf toe is much more likely to occur if your shoes or cleats are excessively flexible, poor fitting, or offer limited support. Choose a pair with a little more rigidity and stability in the front of the shoe, and consider custom orthotics to help with supporting your feet while you push off.

In short—play safe, play smart. Always wear good gear to protect your feet and don’t go out and play in dangerous conditions if you can avoid it.

If you feel your toe bends just a little too far—and trust us, you’ll feel it—make sure you book an appointment with Absolute Foot Care Specialists. Turf toe is a serious sprain that can have you hobbling for weeks if you don’t take care of it properly. Our treatments will get you back on your feet as quickly and safely as possible. To schedule, give us a call at (702) 839-2010, or request an appointment online.

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