Running from the Feet Up – Starting With Your Big Toe  – Chiropractors in Southampton Review How To Run Well


Running … most of us can run .. but do we do it properly?


If you want to take up running or if you get back or leg pain when you do try running let’s look at the potential causes of this pain.


Let’s start with your feet – in fact your BIG TOE.


  • When you run and your foot touches the ground and starts to support your weight, at this point it is important that your big toe can bend in order that the foot can be adequately stabilised when you push off with your foot.


  • Your big toe can either be limited in its movement – functional hallux limitus or completely unable to move – structural hallux limitus. Functional hallux limitus means that when you run you put more pressure through the big toe in the wrong way and some of the big toe joints  jam together, which leads to pain and potentially degeneration.  Degeneration in the joint will make it a noisy, stiff, painful joint which will probably eventually become unable to move at all – structural hallux limitus.


  • If your big toe cannot bend enough, then other joints in foot will have to move more to compensate and therefore the surrounding muscles will stiffen in order to try to help stabilise the overloaded joints  – so you can eventually experience not only foot pain but  leg pain and then back pain as the compensations for the loss of adequate movement in your big toe go up the ‘chain’ in your body.
  • Chiropractors can help by checking the movement in all of the joints in your feet, and mobilising those that are stiff , focussing on the big toe joint,  which will increase the range of movement in it and keep it moving. You will need to be shown muscle  stretching and strengthening exercises that can also help improve stability of the big toe joint.
  • To see how this works, try standing on tip toes. Then turn both feet inwards so that your big toes are together and your heels are pointing outwards. Can you feel how your muscles on the inside of your leg work have to work harder. Then stand on tiptoes with your heels together and your toes facing outwards. You will then feel how the muscles on the outside of your leg are under greater tension now. You can imagine that if any of these muscles are then made to work harder by you having a stiff big toe, they will become painful through over use. You can imagine too that if you massage those muscles, although it may relieve the pain for a while, as soon as you run again, the pain will come back. Same with your low back pain – unless you alleviate the cause – in this case maximise your big toe mobility, then your pain will just keep coming back.


  • Bear in mind that simply pulling your big toe back is not a test for functional hallux limitus (reduced movement in your big toe)It is the dynamic weighted movement that creates symptoms.


  • You may need to change your running shoes. Sometimes hallux limitus actually feel better when you run. You need to have your feet assessed correctly to make a diagnosis of your particular problem.
  • Wearing something with maximal stiffness across the forefoot may decrease the dorsiflexion moment across the  joint and help avoid the big toe from jamming.

Call in to see us before you spend money on expensive shoes – let us assess your feet and see if we can help you to correct any problems.