It is time to stop thinking about the big toe as simply an appendage of your body without a purpose. So often, the foot gets neglected as having a purpose other than simply providing something for us to stand on when upright. When it comes to the toes, those become even more forgotten.
When injuries happen in the leg, people often turn to strengthening the hips, quads, calves, and maybe hamstrings. If an injury occurs in the foot and ankle area, a little more is done with the foot and ankle, normally consisting of balance activities and some sort of towel scrunch or marble exercise. While those things are not necessarily bad to do, they also may not be helping you. And let’s be honest: when in your functional life do you actually scrunch your toes up? Unless you are a rock climber, the answer is probably never.
When we walk and run, we push off the big toe and possibly a little bit of the 2nd toe. As we go into great toe extension (basically that position when you are standing on your toes), the mechanics of the foot create a stable foot to support your body as you transition over and off that foot.
If you are lacking the ability to get enough extension of the great toe and/or the strength and stability to be able to support full body weight on that aspect of your foot, you are going to develop issues. The body is great at dealing with compensations for a period of time, but as those days, months, and years of compensations add up, injuries are created.
So, when we are looking at injuries (in any part of the body, not just the foot), it is important to at least assess what is going on with the big toe. Can you isolate the movement of your big toes? Do you have enough extension to get into a good toe off position without compensating somewhere? Are you able to easily do a single leg heel raise, focusing the weight on the first two toes? Being able to do all of those things is absolutely necessary for not only the foot and ankle area, but also to reduce your risk of injury in the entire body.
Simply put, your foot is your foundation! Just like a weak foundation of a building, if you have a weak foundation (foot) in any aspect, your body will not be strong. It will not collapse by any means, but your body could develop “cracks” in it in the form of chronic injuries or constant injury cycles.
So if you want a stronger body, get a stronger foot…and toe!
Not sure how to go about all that? No problem! Schedule a call with Brianne to figure out what to do for your foot to get you out of the injury cycle you are stuck in.