Turf Toe

  • Author:
    Jayson Goo, ATC, MA, CKTI

    Jayson Goo, ATC, MA, CKTI, a National Athletic Board Certified Athletic Trainer, graduated from the University of Hawaii and earned his master's degree in human performance with a specialty in corrective therapy from San Jose State University. Jayson also is an active Certified Kinesio Taping Instructor.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Is it possible to prevent turf toe?

The turf toe injury often occurs as a result or combination of fatigue, muscle imbalance, or stress on a body part at an inopportune moment. Appropriate workloads for the stage of training also help prevent injuries. Injury can be prevented through proper preparation for sports participation.

A combination of flexibility, strength, fitness, and dynamic stability may help to prevent injury to the big toe. Appropriate muscle strengthening, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility, balance, core strength, and posture are major factors in both prevention and prevention of reinjury. Flexibility or range of motion of the toe joints may be indicators of injury. Flexibility is determined by the amount the toe can be flexed actively and passively. Greater flexibility of the foot and ankle lessen the chance of injury. There is no particular exercise or stretch that will prevent the injury.

Strength also plays a role. The stronger the body the less susceptible to injury it becomes. One of the keys is that both the muscle that moves the body part through that range of motion and the opposing muscle must also be strong. A decreased range of motion may predispose the joint to injury. Meanwhile, hydration keeps the tissue supple and the muscle working correctly. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure for prevention of turf toe besides developing the components needed for safe participation in sport.

The basic guideline to prevent injuries is to determine if one is in good health by having a physical exam to evaluate cardiovascular function and the possibility of disease or any other general medical problems. Before beginning activities, diseases such as gout, diabetes, certain types of arthritis, and neuropathies should be treated. Shoes and socks appropriate to one's activity will also be a deterrent to injury, as proper fitting footwear can help minimize the effect of bad biomechanics.

What is the prognosis for turf toe?

The recovery time for turf toe is dependent on the severity of the injury. The more severe the injury, the longer the recovery time will be. With severe injuries, surgery may be required. Sometimes complete recovery may not occur, leaving the patient with a stiff or arthritic toe. Upon return to activity, various preventative measures such as bracing, athletic strapping (such as with turf toe strips made from moleskin), or insertion of a full foot orthotic or rigid insoles (such as steel plate supports) are considered.


Amendola, Annunziato, and Andrea Veljkovic. "Turf Toe." OrthoInfo. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Aug. 2012. <http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00645>.

Bowers Jr., K.D., and R.B. Martin. "Turf-toe: a shoe-surface related football injury." Med Sci Sports 8.2 (1976): 81-83.

Brophy, R.H., S.C. Gamradt, S.J. Ellis, et al. "Effect of turf toe on foot contact pressures in professional American football players." Foot Ankle Int 30.5 (2009): 405-409.

Coker, T.P., J.A. Arnold, and D.L. Weber. "Traumatic lesions of the metatarsophalangeal joint of the great toe in athletes." Am J Sports Med 6.6 (1978): 326-334.

Rodeo, S.A., R.F. Warren, S.J. O'Brien, et al. "Diastasis of bipartite sesamoids of the first metatarsophalangeal joint." Foot Ankle 14.8 (1993): 425-434.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/10/2015

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  • Turf Toe - Causes

    What caused your turf toe?

  • Turf Toe - Symptoms

    What were your turf toe symptoms?

  • Turf Toe - Treatment

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  • Turf Toe - Prevention

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