Big Toe = Big Part of Running
Dr. Clark works in our Nashua Office and he accepts new patients.
The great toe joint, aka the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint, has the job of bearing most of the weight of your body each time you push off your foot. The joint undergoes a large amount of stress that is absorbed and supported by the ligaments and tendons that surround it. The great toe joint is well designed for this. As you move through a step, the foot undergoes multiple joint angle changes allowing it to adapt to the ground surface. As you project forward the foot joints must align properly in order for that stress to be focused in the correct areas. Misalignment of those joints may direct stress to other joints that are not designed to absorb the focus of that energy. This commonly results in injury and pain. Common injuries would be turf toe, capsulitis, or traumatic arthritis.
In order to align the foot for push-off through the great toe joint, the foot must be stabilized. This is normally achieved by the body with support of the arch and straightening of the heel. When there is a lack of support in these areas, it can be supplemented with devices in the shoes such as over-the-counter inserts or orthotics.
A podiatrist can typically observe this proper foot alignment by examining a patient in the office This is done by performing a gait analysis and maybe a set of x-rays. If there is soft tissue injury an ultrasound may be used to evaluate the extent of damage. Runners should come into the office for gait analysis and to evaluate for any underlying issues that can lead to problems down the line.
If you experience any pain, redness, or swelling in the joint while running or walking, rest from the activity and come in for evaluation. Often I hear of runners getting pain in the great toe joint with push-off. This is a sign of improper position of the foot prior to push off that may require functional orthotics.