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Taking on Turf Toe

by AthleticoLeave a Comment

For a team that has a hooved mascot, the Bulls have had their fair share of toe injuries. One particular injury, turf toe, has reared its ugly head more than a few times over the past few seasons. I know what you’re thinking. Why is an injury that happens on the court called turf toe and not court toe? Well, since this injury was initially common due to the nature of early versions of artificial turf, it quickly got its alliterative name “turf toe” even though it can happen on any surface. Luckily, modern artificial turf has improved to a point that it no longer carries an increased risk of this injury, but the name has stuck around.

Turf toe is an injury that specifically affects the big toe. It typically occurs when the big toe is extended, or bent back, further than normal (hyperextend), damaging the ligaments surrounding the base of the big toe. Turf toe should always be diagnosed by a sports medicine professional to rule out a potential fracture. Even though it’s just a sprain to a small joint, it’s an extremely painful and debilitating condition. Unlike most of the toes, our big toe plays an important role in athletics. The big toe is the strongest and most mobile toe and integral to maintaining balance and agility, making it the MVP of the foot. An injury to the big toe compromises the ability to push off with the foot while jumping, running, or changing directions, all of which are integral to driving to the hoop and making a SportsCenter Top 10 play instead of ending up on a blooper real.

Treatment of turf toe is pretty straightforward with rest and inflammation control being the top priorities. A lot of times, the entire foot will be immobilized by using a walking boot, only being removed to ice and perform pain-free range of motion exercises. Other treatments, such as ultrasound and injections may also be used to speed up the healing process. When the toe has healed enough to return to activity, it can be taped or splinted to prevent re-injury. A lot of times, it’s beneficial to implement a strengthening program to help protect the joint from this occurring again in the future.

Clearly the big toe is the MVP (most valuable phalange), and any limitations to it can dramatically affect how an athlete performs, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, it can fully resolve.

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Athletic TrainingGeneralSportsAthletic Trainingfootinjurysports medicineturf toe

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