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Big Toe Limited ROM - A Potential Solution
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Learner


Jun 2, 2011, 4:34 PM
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Big Toe Limited ROM - A Potential Solution
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This post is intended to help those of you who may have limited range of motion in your big toe, accompanied by pain from it, due to a past injury...

Around 2 months ago, I injured the big toe in my right foot while attempting to break in synthetic climbing shoes that were apparently too small for my feet. (I believe it was at least a hairline fracture or tendon injury, because the pain has lasted close to 8 weeks) Consequently, I have had limited range of motion in my big toe for 2 months and it's been painful to flex the toe past about 35 degrees downward. Today, however, I believe I may have fixed it. Perhaps you could try this method as well, and it may help you too...

I lied down in my bed and flexed all of my toes in both of my feet as hard as I possibly could for around 40 seconds, focusing on using my muscles to match the angles of the big toes--to force the injured big toe into a contraction that would allow the toe to be at 90 degrees just like the other toe. It started at only about 35 degrees. It was painful at first, I gave it my all, at times the toe was 'bobbing', but something surprising was happening. The toe was flexing more and more as this went on! It was as if I was watching my toe come back to life right there. The longer and harder I flexed, the closer it got to the 90 degree downward angle I was aiming for. I pushed through it and, it kept 'bobbing' and somehow it worked its way to 90 degrees until both toes appeared to be at similar angles in a fully flexed position. Miraculously, this seems to have fixed the problem. I now have full ROM in my big toe--something I haven't had for 8 weeks!

There is slight pain when it is fully flexed (at 90 degrees), but I suspect that will disappear as my body once again gets used to using the toe through this range of motion again. I am psyched to be able to flex it in a full range of motion again. I can even do the big toe stretch (used before and after climbing by some) through which you sit in a chair then bend both big toes completely (90 degrees downward), simultaneously placing both knuckles of the toes on the floor. It looks like it hurts when you see someone do it. The fact that I can do this now after this one 30-40 second 'forced flex' session is a miracle. I am now going to do a forced flex session at least once every day, along with the big toe stretch I described above.

I've been devastated by my big toe problem for the last couple of months and thought that losing its full ROM permanently was a possibility. Now I can do things that I've recently only dreamed of. Seriously. Force flex your toes simultaneously for 40 seconds with all intent and focus.


(This post was edited by Learner on Jun 2, 2011, 4:46 PM)


squierbypetzl
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Jun 15, 2011, 1:44 AM
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Re: [Learner] Big Toe Limited ROM - A Potential Solution [In reply to]
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Da,m, how tight were those shoes??

I am genuinely interested in what the hell was wrong with your foot. Post up if you get a doctors diagnosis.


Learner


Jun 21, 2011, 9:53 PM
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This is why a "knuckle box" is good! [In reply to]
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squierbypetzl wrote:
Da,m, how tight were those shoes??

I am genuinely interested in what the hell was wrong with your foot. Post up if you get a doctors diagnosis.
I didn't get a doctor's diagnosis, but judging from the fact that it has taken almost 3 months to heal and regain full ROM, I am assuming it was at least a fracture, probably worse. I've known people whom have fractured their big toes, and it took about 4 weeks to fully heal. Mine has taken 3 times that long, so it was probably something worse. I will not name the shoes that I accomplished this with, because it was not the shoes fault. It was mine. I was inexperienced as far as knowing which shoes were right for the shape of my foot, it was my first pair of shoes yet they were extremely aggressive etc... Once I acquired them and they were so tight they hurt, I was all right with it because I had read about how climbing shoes should be tight and would break in, so I was willing to withstand whatever pain it took to optimize my performance. I also figured they would break in, which as it turns out this particular pair did not at all. At the time, I was unable to try on multiple pairs, so when they were extremely tight I had nothing to compare them to and just assumed that's the way they should feel. For the record, I advocate very tight-fitting shoes. This increases your toe and edging power dramatically and I've learned that first hand. The shoes just need to be the right shape for your foot, and if they're leather, they should be even tighter. I realize this and support it, and the shoes I wear now are very, very tight. But they are the right shape for my foot. And I couldn't love them more.

The problem with these shoes that I used to hurt my feet was that they were not the right shape for the shape of my foot. Not only did I fit them extremely tight for a synthetic shoe, but the front on them was too narrow for my box-shaped forefoot and there was not adequate room in the area inside the toe box for the relative size of my big toe. I have large volume toes, whereas these shoes were apparently designed for people with a lot smaller toe volumes. These factors combined with my high volume of training to produce the problem with my big toe. The incident happened on a 6-hour gym training day.

So, to make something productive out of this post, what is the solution if you have a big big toe like me? Find a shoe with more volume at the big toe area. I think the "knuckle box" that is incorporated into the new Evolv Shaman is brilliant:

In the above picture, look at the pre-formed bump that is at the big-toe area on that shoe that is facing us.


You may see it better in these two. This bump keeps the pressure off of your big-toe. Yet, the shoe is not overly narrow and is shaped to keep your toes in the aggressive position. You may be curious, so I'll go ahead and tell you the few things that achieve this... 1) underneath the forefoot in these shoes is a bump (the "love bump") that automatically 'curves' your forefoot into that aggressive position, 2) there is an extra bump of rubber under the toes that fills in an area where there would normally be dead space and 3) for the shoe to fit right and feel right, it must fit nice and tight, just as you would want in an aggressive shoe. So, everything is in place and in the right position and surprisingly comfortable. I feel Evolv was so smart with this shoe design that it deserves this mentioning. I can't tell you how relieved I was to put this shoe on and everything was in place exactly as it should be and NO PAIN IN THE BIG TOE!

So, if any of you are having problems with pressure in your big toe, yet want a very aggressive shoe, I would highly recommend the Evolv Shaman.

I have a relatively box-shaped forefoot, and the Shaman works perfectly for me. If you have more of a narrow forefoot, the Shaman would probably still work for you, but another option is to try the La Sportiva Solution, which also has a "knuckle box" built into it:


It's just a more narrow shoe than the Shaman.

(If anyone knows of any other very aggressive climbing shoes with an apparent "knuckle box," please post it for reference.)


(This post was edited by Learner on Jun 21, 2011, 10:12 PM)


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