Turf Toe

Turf Toe is bending upward of the big toe with soreness underneath.
Turf Toe is bending upward of the big toe with soreness underneath.


Taping for Turf Toe Video


Turf toe can occur after a very vigorous upward bending of the big toe causing a sprain to the ligaments under base of the big or great toe. We explain the symptoms, treatment and a simple taping technique to protect the toe.

Symptoms of Turf Toe Include:

  • Swelling and pain at the joint of the big toe and metatarsal bone in the foot.
  • Pain and tenderness on bending the toe or pulling (stretching) it upwards.
  • The shoe grips hard on the surface and sticks causing bodyweight to go forward and so bending the toe up. It is also common in martial arts. You are more at risk if you have increased range of motion in the ankle and / or wear soft flexible shoes.
  • When the toe is bent upwards this causes damage to the ligaments under the toe which can become stretched. In addition the surfaces of the bones at the joint can become damaged. An X-ray is usually recommended to check that there is no fracture present.
  • If pain in the MTP joint at the base of the big toe comes and goes, lasting for around at a week at a time, with no obvious cause – consider gout!

What can the athlete do to treat turf toe?

  • Ice the injury immediately.
  • Tape the toe
  • Apply a compression bandage.
  • See a sports injury professional for advice
  • Rest, which might include crutches to take the weight off the toe.
  • Use a brace to protect the toe – or at the very least wear a shoe that has a firm sole that will not allow bending.

What can a sports injury professional do?

  • X-ray to check for a fracture.
  • Apply ultrasound or other electrotherapy treatment.
  • After 2 to 4 days the athlete may be able to weight bear again.
  • Tape the toe to prevent movement.
  • Advise on a rehabilitation and strengthening program.
  • Recovery of this injury can take three to four weeks depending on how bad the sprain is.
  • If the athlete does not look after this injury then it may develop into Hallux Limitus / Rigidus! This is a decreased range of motion due to arthritis around the joint. This can cause problems in the rest of the foot or lower limb due to changes to your walking cycle (gait).