Updated: May 17
Why are our toes significant, especially our big toe? Do this for me, take your shoes off and see how well you can move your toes around. Can you spread them and get space between each of your toes? Can you lift your big toe, and how much? Like pretty much all joints in our bodies, we should have control of our toes. Since we don't challenge our feet and toes very much, we often don't have control of them. We stuff them into shoes, and we will usually have to rely on the shoe for the stability of our foot. The adage, if you don't use it, you lose it fits perfectly here. We need a combination of mobility and stability throughout or feet and toes because it is essential for quality movement.
The Big Toe
Specifically, the big toe needs to move well. The big toe needs to be able to bend up or extend/dorsiflex. The big toe's ability to dorsiflex is ESSENTIAL for a proper gait. If you have a step counter think about how many steps you take- I usually hear an average of 5000-10,000 steps daily. If your big toe is not moving well, you are creating dysfunctional movement, every one of those steps, because your body steals motion movement comes from the joints up your leg into your back rather than your big toe. As Sting likes to sing, "Every step you take, every move you make your big toe is watching you." The lack of mobility in the big toe leads to problems such as bunions, knee problems, specifically ACL injuries, hip problems, and back problems.
What can you do?
We need to challenge our joints consistently to make lasting changes. A fix doesn't happen with a few reps. It would be best if you were consistent. Challenging the end range of your movement is where you will get more success too. Remember pain your body messaging you that there is a problem, do what your body will allow, don't force it. Here are a few of my favorite exercises to help you get control of those toes.
Try and be barefoot more frequently. You get to utilize those feet muscles more.
With your hands pull your big toe back, put your fingers in between your toes spreading them. That will help to increase your range of motion because of the end range is where the magic happens. Toe spreaders, the ones you use to paint your toenails, are another option. Start out slow, don't do too much too. Start with 30 sec to one minute holds.
Move your toes around in different ways. Spread and close your toes, lift one toe at a time and lower them, honestly play around there is no wrong way to move them unless it hurts. Hold your toes in different positions for a few seconds.
Go into a medium lunge position and go up onto the toe, lightly loading it and coming off. Again try to push that end range each rep. Do around 10 reps each toe.
There is so much more we can do, so if you want more help, please give me a call or text to schedule 541-610-5621. I can do a specific exam on your feet because when we move better, we feel better.