Best Life: Kicking turf toe to the curb

Published: Oct. 8, 2021 at 7:00 AM CDT
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BALTIMORE, Md. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and A.J. Green. Just three of the many professional football players who have struggled with turf toe, a sprain in the big toe joint. Orthopedic doctors say despite these high-profile cases, the condition isn’t exclusive to football. Turf toe hampers many sports activities for high school and college athletes, and even adult weekend warriors.

Ten years ago, Mike Greenberg never thought he’d be able to serve and volley on a tennis court again.

“So, I broke my foot dancing at a kid’s party, and it was the Michael Jackson moonwalk which actually broke my foot, as pathetic as that is,” smirked Greenberg.

That break never healed well. Time and wear and tear took a toll.

“My right big toe was flapping around,” he said.

Doctors diagnosed Greenberg with an injury to the plantar plate of his foot, also known as turf toe. Most people associate turf toe with sports like football, soccer and lacrosse played on artificial turf.

“The turf will kind of hold and stay intact. And as that force comes through, rather than the ground giving way, the foot eventually has to give way,” explained Patrick Maloney, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Injury can happen on other surfaces. Runners, dancers, and tennis players can also struggle with the condition.

“What gets injured is the bottom supporting really strong tissue or what we call the joint capsule,” said Maloney.

Doctors say you can minimize the risk of injury. Wear shoes that provide stability, especially in the toe area. Make sure you stretch your feet so your muscles and soft tissue are less likely to be injured.

Greenberg opted for surgery to fix the injury. Six months later he started light workouts. After a year, Greenberg said he was good as new.

“And I’m like, ‘There’s no pain there. What’s going on?’ so, it’s a great feeling,” shared Greenberg.

Maloney says about 80% of all turf toe injuries can be managed by taping and supporting the toe or wearing a boot or other supportive shoe to keep weight off the joint.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Kirk Manson, Videographer.

Copyright 2021 WMC. All rights reserved.

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