Confessions of a Physio who Knows Better – Turf Toe

Footprint showing Oakville and Burlington foot clinic

Turf toe was brought to everyone’s attention when Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays missed some of his 2016 season. It is a sprained toe. Turn toe is more common in field sports such as soccer and rugby. It isn’t a commonly discussed injury in fantasy sports leagues.

As Physiotherapists we are well versed in injury prevention and risk management techniques. We educate patients on the merits of a proper warm up and of ideal recovery.

We know better. But it doesn’t mean we do better.

Take for example, myself at a yoga class last week. In addition to the improvements in strength, balance and posture that yoga postures or “asana’s” bring, it also helps with focus and being present. At one point in the class, moving from downward dog to forward fold, we had the option to jump or step both feet to the top of the mat. Having had the ability to jump my feet to the mat numerous times before (think burpee), I went for it. What I didn’t do, was focus on what I was doing.

Slacklining picture to show oakville and burlington physio and yoga clinic

I jumped full force towards the front of the mat and jammed my big toe into the rubber. 

I had sharp pain in the toe that almost brought me to my knees. At this point I would have advised a patient to stop the class. I, on the other hand stayed in class and continued the best I could from one foot. After class, I went home and elevated my foot. In the morning I had much less pain and my toe looked normal. Because my injury was a hyperflexion injury and the range is naturally protected against I didn’t have much discomfort with regular walking. I had been feeling like I overreacted to my injury the night before.

I spoke with my coworker, Chiropodist (foot specialist) Arien and she confirmed by odd mechanism of injury was likely turf toe. When I took my shoes off that night after work and looked down at my toe I saw a different story. My big toe had some bruising and swelling on it. I again elevated it.

Turf toe injury at Oakville, Milton foot clinic

I did return to yoga that weekend, but was mindful of my positioning and extra cautious with transitions. The lesson learned is to be mindful of the activity and movements you are asking of your body. Just what I advise my patients.


Lisa Clifford RPT, Hons. B Kin, MSc PT, FCAMPT