You knew the moment it happened that you wouldn’t be able to compete for weeks. You tried to push through the pain, but your big toe just seems to get worse—and it’s hard to believe that you will ever recover when you can barely walk. Will you ever be able to flex and bend your big toe normally?

How Do Turf Toe Injuries Happen?

Football Field“Turf toe” injury is a common name for hyperextension of the big toe joint. It is usually caused by a forceful upward movement of the toe while the foot remains stationary, such as when football players “push off” from artificial turf. The ligaments in the toe may be torn, resulting in a sprain that can cause pain and mobility problems for weeks after the injury occurs.

Although it is named after artificial turf, the injury can occur as a result of many different sports and activities, including:

  • Outdoor games. Any sport that requires players to wear cleats increases the risk of turf toe, since cleats keep the toe rooted to the ground, even if the rest of the foot is not. Runners who repeatedly push off their big toes to sprint or run on uneven surfaces may hyperextend the big toe. Basketball players routinely push up onto their toes to shoot, block, or pass, and soccer players often suffer big toe sprains as a result of hard kicks, fast passes, or stepping onto the ball.

  • Indoor sports. Indoor surfaces such as stages and gym floors do not have the same “give” as an outdoor field, and can cause injuries due to jumping and landing. Wrestlers routinely use their feet to brace against their opponents, rocking their big toe joints against the wooden floor. Gymnasts and ballet dancers must not only point their toes and push off the floor, they also suffer hard landings onto the balls of their feet. In addition, many dancers and other performers are asked to repeat maneuvers over and over in practice, weakening the toe joint due to repetitive stress.

  • Sudden trauma. It’s not only athletes who suffer turf toe injuries. Anyone who suffers direct trauma to the foot or big toe can suffer hyperextension. In many cases, the injury occurs as a driver attempts to brace his feet against the floor during a car accident.

What Is the Best Way to Recover From Turf Toe?

Every turf toe injury is different, and it will take careful examination to treat your condition. Your podiatrist should order an x-ray to ensure no bones have been broken, and can tell you if you need casting, a walking boot, or surgery to restore lost function to your big toe joint.

The podiatrists at Podiatry Care Specialists, PC, can help you choose the course of treatment that is right for you.

Click on our convenient online request form to make an appointment at the office location nearest you, or click on the live chat box on this page to find out more about our doctors and services.

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