What Is Turf Toe?

Let’s talk about Turf Toe, what it is and what we can do.

As a Carlton supporter I always take more of an interest when one of our players is injured. Especially, when it’s your captain and best player, Patrick Cripps. We managed to pull through with an awesome win without him but we need him long term if we want to continue to win games. Patrick Cripps is out with this injury known as turf toe.

Turf toe is essentially a toe sprain where the toe suffers from excessive upwards bending. This can occur in a number of ways.

  • The first way involves an acute incident such as getting tackled with your toe firmly planted in the ground or landing with excessive force through the toe.
  • The second way one can obtain turf toe is through repetitive injury or load such as running, jumping etc. It’s very common in outdoor field sports such as AFL and soccer but dancer’s are also at risk too.

If you have turf toe, like with any sprain, the area is going to be swollen, painful and probably limited in movement. Like any sprain, there is going to be a period where we need to give the area a break and a chance to recover.

Some of the strategies we use if the problem starts to become recurrent are:

  • Taping: Taping of the big toe joint. This stabilises the toe and reduces the upwards bending motion.
  • Orthotics:. Taping is generally a short term fix, if you are a young athlete having a mobile big toe is important. Orthotics allow your big toe to function in a more efficient manner and prevent ‘jamming’ of the big toe joint by leveraging it.
  • Footwear: Footy boots do tend to favour more load through our forefoot for a couple of reasons. Look to purchase boots that are more turf toe friendly by looking at the midsole thickness. If it looks more like a running shoe it will be more friendly than your traditional football boot.

Something I have observed is that bigger guys tend to battle with this injury. For example Aaron Sandilands was out 12 weeks with it, Shaquille O’Neal was also out for a long period of time. Compared to Cripps they are huge but Cripps is still a bigger athlete at 6ft 5. I think in his case they are being conservative and he should be back soon.

There you have it. A quick rundown on turf toe!

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