Foot issues

Turf Toe

Brief Description

Injury associated with playing sports on hard surfaces, the big toe is hyperextended causing damage to the joint and surrounding ligaments.


Pain with bending of the big toe, swelling, redness and warmth, bruising.



Laser / Microwave



Medical terminology: metatarsophalangeal joint sprain

A common injury associated with playing sports on hard surfaces (like artificial turf), turf toe occurs when the big toe is hyperextended and the joint (and surrounding ligaments) is damaged. Turf toe can happen to any toe but is most common in the big toe. It has been commonly observed in sports like football, soccer, basketball and rugby. Playing on natural grass to turf can help reduce this injury because it is softer. This injury can be debilitating for athletes due to the importance of using your big toe to accelerate, quickly change direction or jump. 

How can you treat?

  • Taping – use sports tape to immobilize/minimize the big toe from bending which help reduce pain with movement.
  • Rigid morton’s extension brace (over-the-counter) – a stiff carbon fibre plate that extends under the big toe to help reduce bending when walking/running.
  • Laser therapy – helps reduce inflammation and improve the body’s self healing abilities.
  • Orthotic (with rigid morton’s extension) – custom orthotic device that helps support the arch, reducing foot instability and big toe motion due to rigid morton’s extension.
  • Rigid sole of footwear – the stiffer the sole of the shoe, the less bending of the big toe which will reduce pain and allow for better healing due to less irritation of the joint.

Recommendation to prevent the issue:

This injury can be very difficult to avoid to the unpredictable nature of sports injuries and the inability to change the terrain which the sport is being played on. If this seems to be a reoccurring injury, a few recommendations to prevent turf toe are:

  • Rigid morton’s extension brace – this over the counter product reduces big toe motion which will reduce the chance of turf toe.
  • Taping – taping the affected toe before every activity can help stabilize the joint and reduce unwanted hyperextension.
  • Orthotics w/ rigid morton’s extension brace – not only does it have the benefits of the stiff shaft extension under the big toe but helps support and stabilize the overall foot.
  • Rigid sole of footwear – the less the affected toe bends, the less chance of re-injury of turf toe.
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Turf Toe
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