When it comes to improving your movement patterns and efficiency, there isn’t many structures as important as the feet, particularly the big toe.
Anatomy of the big toe:
1st metatarsophalangeal joint (MCP) at the base of the big toe. When you go into toe and foot dorsiflexion you need to have a good range of motion in the joint. Between 60-100 degrees is considered normal. You need a substantial range of motion in this area to carry out running, jumping and lifting activities effectively.
You need your big toe to move well!
The 1st MP joint needs a substantial amount of range of motion into extension. That is a LOT more than many people have. If someone doesn’t have that range of motion there, are they going to stop running? No. They will run and the range of motion that should have been happening at that big toe will happen somewhere else, maybe the knee or the hip. That will change how those joints are used and you can develop “mysterious” knee or hip pain.
Superficial Back Line (SBL)
Another reason why your big toe is so important is something called the superficial back line. The SBL is one continuous length of connective tissue starting/ending from your plantar fascia at the sole of your foot and traverses all the way up your posterior chain to end at the bony ridge at the base of the skull, connecting from there via your scalp to your eyebrow ridge.
The plantar fascia connects to each metatarsal (toe joint) and the big toe being the largest metatarsal will have a bigger fascial attachment. A great exercise to stretch the SBL is downward dog, another reason why in-cooperating flexibility training such as yoga into your routine is so important. It really complements and improves other components of training.
When we run, jump or hop often we disengage the big toe from the ground. When this occurs, you are also not utilizing the muscles, tendons and joints surrounding the area effectively. This can occur from improper footwear, a lack of mobility at the big toe or incorrect technique when exercising.
How To Increase Mobility In The Toes….
Get them in touch with the ground again – Yep that means going barefoot!
Train in the soft sand at the beach
Pick things up off the ground with your toes. Try marbles, pebbles, whatever. Start small. Little steps.
Next time you train pay really good attention to what your big toe is doing in each of the exercises. You might be surprised in what it is ACTUALLY doing!
If you’re looking for a more structured exercise plan why not try one of our yoga classes today! Full schedule at www.kmjgroupfitness.com