10 Tips to Make Your Great Toe Great Again

You never really think about how important fingers and toes are until they stop working. If you or someone you know suffers from great toe pain and stiffness, it’s likely you’ve got Hallux Rigidus also known as the kiss-of-death-for-ballroom-dancers. This post is for you.

About two years ago I dropped from 2.5 inch heels to 1.3 inch heels. The Dancing Doc is only a couple of inches taller than me so we look better on the floor with me in lower heels, but a pleasant, unexpected benefit was a decrease in my great toe pain. I still struggle with very poor great toe range of motion, however, which impedes foot articulation (especially in smooth) so I started researching exercises to improve big toe joint flexibility. That’s how I ran across the self-proclaimed Two Most Famous Physical Therapists on the Internet,  Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck and their recipe to cure your big toe pain and stiffness (Hallux Rigidus). So, if you’re ready to put the mojo back in yo’ big toe… watch and learn.


1) Eliminate high heels and narrow pointy toe boxes in shoes.
2) Use toe separators/stretchers (I love the YogaToes GEM gel toe stretcher and separator available on Amazon) to improve alignment of the great toe joint, ligaments and tendons.

While eliminating high-heels and narrow, pointy shoes seems like an easy lifestyle change, it is not an option for female ballroom dancers (can you say smooth/standard shoes?). That, however, doesn’t mean you are destined to a life sentence of big toe pain. Toe separators are very effective at providing immediate respite from pain and by including a consistent therapeutic plan as part of your daily routine, you’ll begin to experience relief from many of your other symptoms.

3) Stabilize the first metatarsal phalangeal joint.
4) Traction Exercises
5) Rotation Exercises

6) Inferior/Superior Motion Exercises
7) Major Dorsal/Plantar Flexion Exercises

8) Resistance Flexion/Extension Exercises with Therabands (available on Amazon)
9) Towel Grabbing Exercises
10) Dice or Marble Grabbing Exercises

Use ice and ibuprofen to alleviate any initial pain and discomfort you experience when you begin these therapeutic exercise. You may not see immediate improvement in your Hallux Rigidus symptoms, but stick with it. A commitment to consistency is the key to success in improving flexibility and increasing strength. Remember…Rome wasn’t built I a day. #MakeYourGreatToeGreatAgain.

If you’d like to watch Bob Schupp’s and Brad Heineck’s entire youtube video, click Big Toe Pain/Stiffness (Hallux Rigidus) 10 Steps to Cure. Be sure to like Bob and Brad and The Dancing Housewife on FACEBOOK.

If you like this post please share it with your friends and be sure to include the hashtag… #MakeYourGreatToeGreatAgain

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