What is Hallux Rigidus?Hallux Rigidus is a progressive form of arthritis in the first joint of your big toe. The space between the bones in your big toe starts to narrow as the cartilage that covers these bones begins to wear down or is damaged, causing subsequent pain and discomfort. A few signs to take note of include swelling around the joint, a stiff big toe, or pain in the toe when you’re walking. When it’s cold or wet, you may experience more pain. As the condition worsens, you can expect your range of motion in the affected toe to become more limited, the stiffness to become more severe, deep pain or a dull ache that doesn’t go away even when you’re resting, and sometimes even an inability to bend it at all – referred to as a frozen joint. Of course, if this is happening, you’ll find your day-to-day activities severely limited or difficult. Often because you’re in such pain, you start to change the way you walk, which in turn can cause issues with your knee, hip, or even your back.
What Causes Hallux Rigidus?Unfortunately, there is no specific cause of this foot condition. Although, some medical professionals believe that sporting activities and certain types of labor can place stress on your big toe. Injuries to your foot may affect the big toe joint and will increase your risk of developing Hallux Rigidus. Inflammatory conditions like gout and rheumatoid arthritis are also common catalysts of this foot issue. You are also more likely to be at risk of developing Hallux Rigidus if you have an elevated or long metatarsal bone. If this is the case, inserts for the condition are worth purchasing. Lastly, the condition may also be caused by genetic factors.
Hallux Rigidus Treatment ExercisesAfter consultation, the team at Yeargain Foot & Ankle helps you figure out which Hallux Rigidus exercises are the best for you and how often and how many of each activity you should do. Here, we look at a few basic recommended exercises to help ease your symptoms.
1. Toe PullsThese will help stretch your big toe and increase your mobility so you can hold a typical walking pattern.
- Lift your sore foot on a chair and hold it still where the toes meet your foot.
- Using your other hand, gently pull your big toe forward and flex it down. You should feel a gentle stretch. Hold for 10-20 seconds.
2. Extension StretchesThis will help in cases of stiffness in the big toe. The exercises aim to be able to stretch your big toe at 90 degrees (toward your ankle). This may take a couple of weeks, be patient.
- Sit on a chair and lift your sore foot onto your other knee.
- Holding your heel in one hand, use your other hand to pull the big toe back toward the ankle. You should feel a gentle stretch along the bottom of your foot.
- Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds.
3. Towel CurlThese exercises will help you build strength in your big toe and shouldn’t be done if you have very little mobility in your toe.
- Sit comfortably on a chair. Place a small hand towel on the ground and place your sore foot on it.
- Scrunch the towel by curling your toes and then flatten it again by spreading out your toes.
- When you can comfortably do this, you can try the exercise while standing.
4. Toe Press, Point, and CurlWith this exercise, you’ll work your whole foot, which has significant mobility and strength advantages. These also work to reduce pain and improve your overall movement for performing day-to-day activities.
- Work through these three movements and pause at each one to hold the position for five seconds.
- Sit in a straight-back chair and place your feet on the floor.
- Press your toes into the ground, raising your heel.
- Point your toes while your heel is still raised.
- Curl your toes under while your heel is still raised.
5. Toe SalutesThis exercise will stretch your toe and build strength. Focus on keeping control of your other toes, which should stay on the ground.
- Sit in a chair with your legs at 90 degrees.
- Raise your big toe off the ground and hold for 5 seconds while keeping all your other toes on the floor.
- Now, lift your other four toes off the ground, keep your big toe on the ground, and hold for 5 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise with your other foot.