Turf Toe

What is it?

Turf toe is a sprain of the Metatarsophalangeal joint, the largest joint on the big toe.

How does it occur?

Turf toe occurs when the big toe bends forcefully towards the top of the foot (hyper-extended) whichresults in the soft tissue of the bottom of the foot being injured. Other mechanisms of injury include hyper-flexion which will occur when someone is tackled from behind.

What type of athletes do we see this in?

We mostly see it in football players who play on turf (artificial grass). Other types of athletes include lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, and dancers. The reason for this is turf lacks soil which makes it firmer. As a result, it makes it more slippery and more prone to injury when an athlete’s foot is slammed down on the turf.


  • Stiff, acute pain, swelling to MTP joint
  • Inability to push off while walking/ running
  • Swelling to bottom of feet


  • Stiff sole shoe, rest, Ice, NSAIDs
  • Surgery if severe

Injury prevention

  • Ensure that your shoes/cleats are in good condition. Excessive wearing can create a flexible show and lead to injury.
  • Stretch the muscles in your toe by slowly pushing your toe up. This should be done after sport or feet exercises.
  • Maintain proper running mechanics



Reference: VanPelt D. M., Saxena A., Allen A. M. (2012) Turf Toe Injuries. Sports Medicine and Arthroscopic Surgery of the Foot and Ankle. Springer-Verlag.

Reference: McCormick J. J., Anderson B. R. (2009) The Great Toe: Failed Turf Toe, Chronic Turf Toe, and Complicated Sesamoid Injuries. Foot and ankle clinics: July 2009, DOI: 10.1016/j.fcl.2009.01.001

Reference: Williams E. B. (2008) How To Treat Turf Toe Injuries. Podiatry Today: September 2008, Vol. 21, No. 9, Retrieved from: http://www.podiatrytoday.com/

Reference: Bowers D. K., Martin B. R. (1976) Turf-Toe: a shoe-surface related football injury. Medicine and Science in Sports: February 1976, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 81-83

By Basil Ike and Alee Vladyka