Turf Toe (Turf Toe Treatment)

Turf toe is a slang term used to describe a common yet frustrating injury that affects athletes like football players and soccer players. In technical terms, it describes a sprain of the plantar capsule and plantar ligaments of the first metatarsophalangeal joint.  In simple terms, you likely pushed your big toe too far and the bottom side of the joint has been damaged.  Ask any player who is getting ready for the upcoming football season and it’s a really frustrating and painful injury.  So what can be done?

location of turf toe pain

Turf Toe – linked to Flexibility?

Numerous published studies have been able to identify variables that are commonly related to the condition. Unfortunately, many of these variables cannot be changed such as the age of a player and the number of years they’ve been playing.  Yet one finding that has been linked to the incidence of turf toe is the range of ankle dorsiflexion.  According to the literature, a higher range of ankle dorsiflexion is linked to a higher incidence of turf-toe.  Therefore, particularly for the athlete with a history of turf-toe and those with a rather generous range of ankle dorsiflexion, it may be advised to brace or tape the ankle before competition.

Turf Toe – Strategies for Management

As mentioned above, it may be indicated to brace or tape the toe before sports participation.  Depending on the case, it may also be advised to wear less flexible shoes, tape the first metatarsophalangeal joint and/or wear a rigid orthotic.  As suggested above, the research illustrates this as another example where an increased range of motion in a given joint (in this case the ankle) may not be such a helpful thing!

Turf Toe Treatment

If you’re experiencing pain in your toe, ankle or foot, please give our clinic in Burlington a call.  We can treat turf toe in various ways.  Laser therapy can be effective for reducing symptoms, reducing inflammation and getting you back in the game quickly.  This service can be performed by either our Chiropractors or our Physiotherapists.  We also offer other treatment approaches like orthotics, active release and graston technique.  Please give us a call…we can help!  905.220.7858.

By: Dr. Kevin McIntyre B.Kin., DC



Rodeo S, O’Brien S, Warren R et al. Turf-toe: an analysis of metatarsophalangeal joint sprains in professional football players. The American Journal of Sports Medicine 1990; 18(3): 280 – 285.

Sahin N, Atici T, Bilgen S, Bilgen O. Turf toe in a taekwandoo player: case report. Journal of Sports Sciences and Medicine 2004; 3: 96-100.

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