Did you know that a weak big toe can cause ankle pain and knee pain? A very important muscle that helps support the arches of the foot and provide balance to the entire body is connected to the big toe. When this muscle is not working correctly the base of support for the body can collapse and compromise function of the entire system.
A Weak Big Toe Can Cause Ankle Pain and Knee Pain
The flexor hallucis longus is a muscle that runs underneath the big arch on the inside of the foot before it connects to the big toe. This muscle helps support this important arch of the foot and prevent it from collapsing. However, many people overpronate – which means their feet and ankles collapse inward too much towards the midline of the body. This problem is in part caused by a weak flexor hallucis longus muscle of the big toe. This collapsing of the foot and ankle causes the rest of the leg to collapse inwards as well pulling the knee, hip and lower back out of alignment. Overtime, this can cause pain and dysfunction to these structures.
Activation and strengthening of this muscle that connects to the big toe (i.e., flexor hallucis longus) and helps holds up the big arch of the foot (i.e., medial longitudinal arch) can prevent it from collapsing, support the foot and ankle and reduce stress to all the structures of the lower body.
Below is a simple, yet effective exercise you can integrate into your daily activities and workouts to strengthen this muscle and help prevent one of the major causes of foot, ankle, knee, hip and back pain.
Big Toe Pushdowns Exercise
Stand with your feet facing forward and raise the arches of your feet (i.e., roll your weight gently toward the outside of your feet) to create a neutral position for the feet and ankles. Align all of your toes so they are straight and press the big toe down toward the floor without “scrunching” the other toes. As you push the big toe down you should feel the muscles that runs under the arch of your foot activate. Hold this contracted position for 5 to 10 seconds, relax and repeat for 3 to 6 times every day to strengthen the muscles that helps hold up the medial longitudinal arch of the foot and support the ankle, knee, hips and lower back.
Big Toe Pushdowns
Note: This exercise is part of The BioMechanics Method Corrective Exercise Specialist Certification (TBMM-CES) program and is an integral part of retraining the entire kinetic chain to prevent the causes of musculoskeletal problems and recurring muscle and joint pain. To find out how to assess both yourself and your clients, understand the causes of pain and dysfunction and address these issues with corrective exercise, check out TBMM-CES here.