Yeargain Foot & Ankle

5 Simple Hallux Rigidus Exercises

If you notice your big toe feels stiff or aches after a long day on your feet and no amount of rest seems to make a difference, you may be developing a condition known as Hallux Rigidus. Like with many conditions, if you start to treat Hallux Rigidus early on, you can slow down its progression and get on the road to recovery sooner. If you think this may be the case, it’s best to get medical advice and treatment early on so you have useful tips on keeping your toes strong and mobile so that you can carry on with your daily activities without pain. At Yeargain Foot & Ankle, we believe in therapeutic care. The more therapy you can do at home, the better it is for your recovery and progress.In this blog, we’ll look at what Hallux Rigidus is and what causes this condition in your big toe. We also offer five simple Hallux Rigidus exercises you can do to ensure your toes remain strong and flexible. These simple Hallux Rigidus exercises will help you experience less stiffness and pain in your big toe.

hallux rigidus exercise

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 Exercises

After 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 Pulls

These 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 Stretches

This 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.

man grabbing gray towel off floor using toes

3. Towel Curl

These 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 Curl

With 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 Salutes

This 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.

Fix Your Hallux Rigidus by Contacting a Dallas Podiatrist

At Yeargain Foot & Ankle, we won’t stop at simply reducing your symptoms, we follow through to make sure we address the underlying causes of your condition so that you can prevent the condition from worsening in the future and remain pain-free for the long term!  Book an appointment with Yeargain Foot & Ankle today. If you’re experiencing worsening symptoms, it’s essential to see a specialist such as Dr. Yeargain and Dr. Agyen and they will recommend Hallux Rigidus treatment exercises that will put you on the path to healing as soon as possible. We want our patients to heal adequately while causing minimal disruption to their everyday lives.  To learn more, visit our Hallux Rigidus page. To book an appointment at Yeargain Foot & Ankle, call (972) 853-4886 or book an appointment through our website. We look forward to treating you. Visit Yeargain Foot & Ankle at one of our 2 locations:

Get Relief…
Right Where You Work

If you work in Downtown Dallas you know the challenge of working a full day and then finding time for a podiatry appointment. That’s why we have two clinics located in the downtown area. Schedule your appointment and customized treatment plan right where you work. We will get you in, get you relief, and get you back to active living.

Yeargain Foot & Ankle

3801 Gaston Ave #330
Dallas, TX 75246
(972) 853-4886

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Oak Cliff/Methodist Hospital
1411 N Beckley Ave. Suite 456
Dallas, TX 75203
Pavilion III at Methodist Hospital
(972) 845-4970

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