The Big Toe

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Movement Fix Monday | Week 4

The Big Toe

This week we are going to delve further into the story of the big toe, specifically the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint, or 1st MP joint for short. Last week, we discussed full knee flexion and sitting japanese style and how the big toe is related to that and a very basic way to stretch the big toe. That's all fine and good, except there are a number of people who need additional mobilization of their big toe, additional motor control, or they have pinching in their big toe that needs to be sorted out.

General Rule

A general rule with stretching is to not stretch into a pinch. Stretching into a pinch is never a good idea. Don't do it! Nothing good comes from that except more pinching. Sometimes pinching of a joint during a stretch means the joint isn't sliding well, sometimes it means other things.

One way we can help to work through that pinch is the joint mobilization shown in the video. We need to traction the big toe to create space in the joint and then push down on the other side of the joint with the other thumb. This helps to restore normal biomechanics of this joint so that we can decrease pinching. Again, don't stretch into a pinch!

There can occasionally be a bone spur that develops at the 1st MP joint, so if you have pinching there, it may be something to consider and get checked out.

You need your big toe to move well

The 1st MP joint needs a substantial amount of range of motion into extension. Depending on the source, it can be between 60 degrees to 100 degrees. That is a LOT more than many people have. If someone doesn't have that range of motion there, are they going to stop running? No. They will run and the range of motion that should have been happening at that big toe will happen somewhere else, maybe the knee or the hip. That will change how those joints are used and you can develop "mysterious" knee or hip pain.

Go get that big toe moving!

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