Turf toe can be one of the most painful and difficult injuries you can sustain. Turf Toe is a catch all term for an injury to the big toe (source). If severe enough, you essentially lose function of your entire foot as you can no longer push off. This will be a guide for early turf toe treatment.
Best Exercises For Turf Toe Treatment
If you suffer a turf toe injury, do not use RICE, POLICE, PRICE or any of those useless abbreviations (LINK). Your goal is going to be to restore big toe extension tolerance as well as strength. The means to do so are below.
- Big toe flexion isometrics
- Big toe extension
- Towel curls
Flexion Isometrics For Turf Toe Treatment
Isometrics are the single best rehab early on in the rehab phase. They strengthen the muscle without lengthening or shortening of the muscle. This allows the exercise to be very tolerable early on as well as having 0 risk of damaging the muscle.
- Sit with your foot on floor
- Attempt to curl your big toe back towards you
- Hold the position for 10 seconds
- Complete 10 reps
- Perform this twice a day, separated by 6 hours
Extension For Turf Toe Treatment
Restoring tolerance to toe extension allows the foot to function normally and is necessary to return from a turf toe injury. This is not going to be a static stretch. You will move the toe through as much pain free motion as possible
- Sit on the floor barefoot
- Grab your big toe and pull it back to your chest as far as possible until you find a painful sticking point
- Hold for 1 second and return to the start position
- Repeat this again. Complete 50 reps
- As you progress through reps, the pain free motion will improve
- Repeat as often as needed to restore motion
Towel Curls To Treat Turf Toe
- Grab a towel (surprise)
- Keep it lengthened and put your foot on one corner
- Curl your toes to bring the towel closer to you
- For this, one rep is shortening the towel as far as it can go
- Complete 3 sets of 12 reps
- Add reps before weight (12-15-20)
- To overload, place a small weight on the far corner of the towel
Taping/Bracing For Turf Toe
Given that toe extension is very limited with turf toe, and toe extension is necessary for proper walking, it may be difficult to walk normally with a turf toe injury. Below are two options to slightly immobilize the big toe to allow for proper walking. During rehab these should not be used.
Turf Toe Taping
If you have the ability and supplies, this is an easy tape job. Alternatively, you could ask a friend, spouse, roommate nicely.
Turf Toe Bracing
If you do not have the means to tape your toe, then a turf toe brace is an easy substitute. Click on the image below to check the latest price (affiliate link)
These treatment interventions will allow you to restore motion and some strength to the big toe. From here you should be able to progress to a traditional lower extremity rehab program.