If foot comfort has you living in blissful unawareness of your big toe and its influence on happy body mechanics, avoid this article! You have enough on your mind.
But if you know all too well the pain and privations that big toe pain and limitation cause – for example, not being able to wear three-quarters of the shoes in your closet and wincing or teetering when you try to crouch – then you don’t even need this introductory paragraph.
- complete a step,
- crouch to pet your pet,
- walk backward on your tiptoes carrying a large statue (ask me), and/or
- reach for something on a high shelf
you need that joint to bend backward (extend) to just about the “ankle angle” pictured.
If you can’t bend that far with ease, you’ll still do what you need to do – the body is amazing at compensation. But compensation works best as a short-term strategy that often costs you in the long run. This seemingly little problem can slow your gait, and cause problems all the way up your body to your neck. And that’s just if your movement is limited. If extending your toe also hurts, you’ll be even more behind the 8-ball.
The first thing that usually happens when you can’t bend your big toe back is that your weight goes to the outside of your foot. Without weight on the big toe, you lose the power of your arch to absorb stress, and you send stress into body parts that aren’t built to take it. Then you can get imbalances in the hip, S/I, and thence up the whole spine. I’d rather that didn’t happen to you.
I’m sad to say that in a couple of instances, it took me a couple of sessions to recognize that the client had a big toe restriction. When that was set to rights, the clients’ pain complaints elsewhere got better. I’m more careful now.
Treatment, education, and home care (and occasionally, orthotics) can improve the way your toes work. Home care is simple: often, toe problems can be set to rights just by taking your hands and moving the foot and toe around.
For more help with any body problem, including any foot problem, see me in person. George Russell Appointments