The big toe creates the majority of foot stability and is critical in push-off. Improve its activation, strength and mobility to walk and run more effectively and avoid injury.
Everyone will benefit from stronger, more competent feet—particularly the big toe, or hallux. Hallux mobility and stability are critical to how the foot absorbs shock, stabilises the stride, stores energy, and pushes off
Without adequate foot mobility and strength, any number of problems may arise, including pain in the ankles, shins, knees, hips, and lower-back and even the neck and shoulders. When foot problems arise, we tend to rely on inserts, special shoes, tape, and other external aids to solve our problems. There’s a better way:
Mobilise the feet and make them strong and engaged, starting with the big toe.
About 80-85% of foot stability comes from the big toe. The hallux must help stabilise the foot and control the arch during foot strike so impact forces are distributed evenly. The hips and legs rely on that stability to transmit energy efficiently into the ground during push-off.
The muscle in your arch that attaches to the big toe (flexor hallucis brevis or FHB) is a stabiliser muscle of the hallux during this process. Failure to stabilise the foot through the hallux means impact and propulsion forces must go somewhere else, probably through tissues that aren’t meant to tolerate those forces.
Efficient, healthy gait relies on the big toe to extend (bend upward) about 50–90 degrees as the body passes over the foot. This allows the leg to extend behind the body and activates the windlass mechanism in which the hallux pulls on the plantar fascia, creating tension. This tension raises the arch, stiffens the foot, and enables a strong push-off as the foot becomes a rigid lever and the plantar fascia transmits energy into the ground.
If the hallux can’t bend sufficiently then problematic compensations occur. A rigid hallux may cause a collapse inside of the foot, knee, and hip, causing a knock-knee/duck-footed gait. Or, the body may shift weight outside causing a bow legged gait and a high, rigid arch that can’t absorb shock. The consequences of either compensation pattern may be plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathy, shin splints, calf or hamstring strains, knee pain, hip pain, low-back pain—possibly even neck and shoulder pain.
So come and learn about your feet and take away the correct exercises to work through !