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What is Turf Toe?

Turf toe can occur after a very vigorous upward bending of the big toe. It got its name due to the fact that it occurs frequently in people who play games on artificial surfaces. 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 which can become stretched. In addition, the surfaces of the bones at the joint can become damaged. You should really have an X-ray to check if a bone has not been broken.

Symptoms 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.

A sprain that involves hyperextension of the great toe, turf toe may be the result of cumulative damage or a single unfortunate instance. While not confined exclusively to athletes it is more commonly seen in people who play sports on artificial turf, hence the name. Grass is a more forgiving surface than artifical turf however many people have also injured their feet playing on natural surfaces particularly if their shoes lack proper support. While fusinski mentions martial artists, people who play football, soccer, and tennis are also at risk for this type of ligament injury.

Feet need room to move inside of shoes during athletic events where the feet may swell. Some athletes and coaches mistakenly believe that shoes should confine the athlete's foot. If you examine cleats closely you'll see that there is not much to them. A lightweight shoe with increased surface area allows a player's foot to grab hold of a soft surface, cleats are often good at grabbing however letting go at the proper time can prevent injury which is why soft, overly flexible and ill fitting shoes ought to be avoided.

Money should be a consideration during every purchase however please do not make the mistake of allowing people to share athletic shoes. This can get into a gray area as there are times when shoes have been rarely worn and can be passed down to a sibling. Shoes that have been worn repeatedly have been broken in by that particular foot and may compromise the foot of another wearer. Another mistake I've seen people make is assuming that their child can wear last seaon's shoes. Growing children should have their feet measured every six months and if their feet have increased in size will benefit from a new pair of shoes at that time even if if they have not worn out their previous pair.

Soccer players in particular are hard on shoes as they are running for most of the game. Their shoes and shin guards are important pieces of protective equipment, this is not the place to skimp or cut costs. Another problem with cleats and shoes that accompany athletes is the smell. Shoes attached to hard working athletes need dry time. Athletic shoes provide ideal conditions for germs to breed. Walking around barefoot in a community shower is an excellent way to pick up opportunistic microbes that cause things like athlete's foot and plantar warts.

The same pair of shoes should not be worn every day. Two days is the minimum amount of time that shoes should have to dry. Rotating your footwear means it will last longer and be better for your foot. After practice or a game drying aids may be used. Newspaper can be stuffed inside wet shoes. Commercial drying aids are available however I prefer natural substances. Cedar is also good at extracting moisture from sweaty shoes. Shoe trees can be expensive however they are wonderful at drying out shoes while preserving their shape.

Feet are the foundation of your body. Shoes should have a supportive shank and what is known as memory. If you can bend an athletic shoe in half do not purchase it. This is good advice for the majority of shoes out there with few exceptions. Another small but important tip: try shoes on as they would be worn. Many people shop for athletic shoes while wearing regular clothing and normal socks. The best time to shop for shoes is right after practice or a game when feet are enlarged and the socks that are worn during game time are on the feet of whoever is buying shoes.

Taking care of your feet is a critical part of every day life. A foot that is not given enough support or denied adequate freedom can undermine a player's ability to perform optimally. Turf toe is a painful condition that can take a key player or dancer away from performances for weeks. Rest, ice and ibuprofen are protocols used to treat turf toe. Weight bearing may have to be avoided if the injury is severe. Physical therapy may be recommended or required.

Good supportive shoes can enhance a player's natural athletic ability. A well shod player is a more comfortable player. While this writeup has discussed turf toe, please treat this as your introduction to some of the injuries that players can sustain from shoes that do not meet the needs of their feet. Ankle, knee and hip joints may also be affected by what's beneath your feet. Your spine depends on your feet for alignment. A good pair of shoes should work with a player's body to keep every part functioning to the best of its ability.

My best advice when shopping for any type of athletic shoe is to find someone whose focus is the athlete's foot. Take advantage of any team discounts, shop sales and be prepared to spend extra at the shoe store if you or someone you're responsible for plays a sport regularly. Deformed feet are often accepted as inevitable when they can be the result of cumulative damage or a foot being forced into shoes that are too small. Fallen arches, plantar fasciitis, bunions, and turf toe are all unpleasant conditions which detract from your health rather than adding to it. Do your body a favor and always wear shoes that meet the needs of your feet.

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