Turf Toe


Spring Training has come and gone, and some baseball players have suffered from an array of injuries. One common injury in sports that is not often seen as a baseball injury is a hyperextension of the great toe, commonly known as Turf Toe.

Turf toe is a painful injury to the base of the big toe that typically occurs in athletes who play field sports, such as gymnastics, football, baseball or soccer. The injury occurs to the joint at the base of the big toe when an athlete forcefully jams his toe into the ground or bends his toe backward, beyond its normal limits. The injury often occurs on a grass or artificial turf playing field, which is where the name “turf toe” came from.

Baseball injuries tend to usually occur in the shoulder and elbow, due to the high forces involved. Although, turf toe is less common than shoulder and elbow injures, it can still land an athlete on the DL.

Sprain Grades
▪       Grade 1: Mild sprain, localized pain, little swelling or bruising

▪       Grade 2: Possible popping sound when the injury occurs; tenderness, moderate swelling, bruising, and loss of motion; partial tear of the capsule and ligaments; no injury to the joint surface

▪       Grade 3: Significant swelling, bruising, and loss of motion; complete tear of the capsule and 16911809 - turf toeligaments; possible dislocation

Post Injury Initial Treatment
▪       Rest (immobilization)

▪       Ice applications for 15-20 minutes, several times a day

▪       Elevation (to reduce swelling) 2-3 hours a day and at night, if possible

▪       Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s)

Return to Activity
▪       When you begin exercising again, limit the movement of your big toe

▪       Limit movement by taping to prevent from over extension

▪       Wear shoes with stiff insoles that do not force the toe to bend with every step

▪       Start an exercise program to enhance strength and improve flexibility

Exercise Examples:
1      Short Foot Isometric exercise/Foot Arching – sit in a chair with your foot flat on the ground; lift the arch of your foot up, without curling your toes or rolling your foot to the outside; hold this arch for five seconds and release; repeat until fatigued.

2      Tennis Ball Massage – place a tennis ball on the floor while you are sitting down; place your foot on the ball and roll back and forth; perform for 3-5 minutes, 1-2 times per day. (you can also place in a damp tennis ball in the freezer for rolling after activity)

3      Toe Spreading – sit in a chair with your foot flat on the floor; actively spread your toes apart and then release; repeat 10-15 times, 1-2 times per day

4       Towel Crunches – place end of towel under forefoot, crunch toes and towel and bring other end of the towel toward you with every crunch(toe flexion).


Jessica Thomas, MS, ATC


Work Cited
Sue Falsone PT, MS, SCS, ATC, CSCS, director of performance physical therapy, Athletes’ Performance and Core Performance


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