Fall sports mean students are hitting the turf again. Cleats, spikes, and other athletic shoes are everywhere, tearing into the ground to help players push forward. It’s an exciting time for students and communities alike—it’s simply fun when your school beats out the rivals next door. Every game has its risks, of course, and one many athletes don’t talk or even know much about is turf toe. This sprain can bench a player for much of a season if it’s severe enough. You can, however, take steps to make it less likely to happen.

Turf toe is a sprain of the soft tissues and ligaments supporting the big toe. These tissues are crucial for pushing off the ground when you walk, run, jump, and change directions—basically, anything you would need for sports. Spraining them is not only painful, it weakens your big toe and makes using it very difficult. Athletes, this is an injury you definitely want to avoid.

You develop a turf toe problem when the digit gets forced backward past its normal range of motion. Preventing it, then, means protecting the toe so this is less likely to happen, and making sure your toe is strong enough to handle forces that might damage it. This means conditioning your forefoot well and protecting it both on harder surfaces and in the game.

Athletes, your big toe needs to be conditioned to handle the stresses and impacts of your sports. Do exercises that build up strength in your feet, calves, and legs overall. Balance exercises, heel raises, and picking up objects with your toes works well for this.

Try to train on softer surfaces more than hard ones, too. Make sure your shoes are designed for your sport and help your foot absorb shock effectively. You might need orthotics for this if your shoes aren’t sufficient. Don’t wear worn-out pairs or styles that don’t support your feet, either.

Turf toe is something all active athletes should be aware of. Don’t take it for granted. It could really hurt your season in many ways. Take precautions instead. If you need help keeping your feet in their best shape for sports, let us know at Carolina Podiatry Group. We’ll help you stay in the game. Use our online request forms to connect with us about turf toe or other concerns. You can also call for an appointment: (803) 285-1411 for our Lancaster office or (803) 548-FEET for our Indian Land location.

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