An injury commonly known as Turf Toe occurs when the big toe becomes forcefully bent upward causing damage to the ligaments on the underside of the foot in the area beneath that toe. Issues with turf toe are common in athletics due to the fact that athletes are susceptible to extra physical stress, especially on the foot and lower body areas during practice and play. While it may seem like a minor issue, Turf Toe can actually take athletes out of their sport for short periods of time, and sometimes even longer. Damage can even be as severe are cracked or fractured bones in the area and sometimes x-rays may be needed to discover the severity of the injury.
The injury is caused by overextension of the toe and its joints which act as support when the foot performs its natural range of motion while running or walking. The toe ordinarily bends upward to help bear the downward pressure on the foot as the leg pushes forward. When athletes are hit or forced into awkward movements of the lower body an overextension can occur forcing damage on the joint, tearing of the ligaments, and potentially a bone fracture.
Although “Turf Toe” gets its name because many turf toe injuries occur on artificial surfaces, or artificial turf, this injury can of course happen in other athletes and individuals and is still quite common elsewhere. It happens on artificial turf because it is usually a harder surface than real grass and puts more resistance on the foot during the natural range of motion. Really anyone can acquire Turf Toe, as long as they are exposed to the risks. These risks may include an increased amount of physical stress on the ligaments and the ability of hyperextension or extension beyond the normal range of motion. This can occur in basketball players, football players, dancers, runners etc.
With Turf Toe injuries, care should be taken to make sure further damage is not done during the recovery process. Often athletic trainers advise to stay of the injury as long as possible, at least 3 to 4 days of rest with no weight or stress bearing on the joints. Immediately following the injury it is important to apply cold compression. An ice wrap with compression can be used to prevent further pain and swelling. Also, the foot should be taped to prevent mobility and extra movement in the area reducing the risk of further damage. Even with tape, crutches are a must during the entire recovery period to ensure reduction of weight and pressure on the area.
Some prevention methods for turf toe include improved footwear and support on the area. The flexibility and support of footwear can help with the prevention of Turf Toe, because it can reduce the amount of pressure applied to the joint and ligament which in turn will reduce the chance of an overextension.
The biggest symptom of turf toe is probably the pain on the joint and ligaments in the area, so remember these methods of the recovery process to reduce pain and swelling! If you have experience a turf toe injury and are looking for relief, use cold compression with an ice wrap immediately after the injury occurs, check for fractures with an x-ray if possible, wrap the foot with tape, and stay off of it as long as possible to ensure a faster recovery time! For more information about other athletic injuries similar to turf toe, check out the rest of our pain relief health guide articles! See our selection of ankle and foot ice wraps!
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