Turf Toe

Turf toe is a common sports injury that occurs when the big toe is bent upward (hyperextended), causing a sprain to the ligaments under the big toe resulting in pain and swelling.

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Symptoms, Causes and Common Treatments

Turf Toe


  • Pain and swelling under the big toe.


  • Occurs most often in sports that require quick direction changes, such as football, soccer or rugby.
  • Wearing athletic shoes with very flexible soles combined with cleats that grab the turf.
  • Wearing worn out shoes that allow too much freedom of motion in the forefoot area.
  • Turf toe occurs most often in sports that require quick direction changes, such as football, soccer or rugby. The name “turf toe” became a widespread description for this condition when many athletes became injured after playing games on artificial surfaces. An athlete’s shoe aggressively grips these artificial surfaces, often causing the body to lean forward and thus bending the toe upward. This kind of injury can also occur in the other toes but is most common in the big toe.

Common Treatments

It is best to avoid highly flexible shoes and instead wear shoes with a rigid sole. Additionally, shoes should be replaced regularly to avoid loss of support which can increase risk of a turf toe injury. Poor foot function such as over-pronation (excessive inward rolling of the foot and ankle which puts excessive pressure on the big toe joint) should be addressed using a custom arch support (orthotic) to minimize risk of injury. Treatment for turf toe and all grades of sprains includes the common RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Use of special rocker bottom shoes can dramatically aid in healing turf toe, limiting motion and pressure in the big toe joint, allowing it to heal. Use of a custom orthotic to support the big toe joint can also aid in healing, especially when poor foot function such as over-pronation is present. Gentle range of motion exercises should be instituted as pain allows, bending the toe gently within the limits of pain. As the pain decreases, the amount of motion increases.

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Foot Solutions Products

  • Supportive athletic shoes
  • Custom-fitted, custom-crafted arch supports (orthotics)
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