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Exercises for Hallux Rigidus

author image Keith Strange
Keith Strange spent more than a decade as a staff writer for newspapers in the southeastern United States, winning numerous awards for his work. He has a B.S. in wellness/sports medicine from Averett University and completed graduate work in exercise physiology. Strange is a former competitive martial artist and holds a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do.
Exercises for Hallux Rigidus
Hallux rigidus results in pain in the big toe.

Hallux rigidus is a condition caused by arthritis at the base of your big toe. This condition leads to a bone spur that results in the inability to bend your big toe when walking or performing other activities. Hallux rigidus can result in pain when walking, swelling, and the inability to move the big toe up and down. Check in with your doctor to determine whether these exercises are right for your condition.

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Flexion/Extension Exercises

This exercise is designed to help restore range of motion to the joint and help alleviate the pain. Align your big toe in its proper position and use your hands to bend the toe up and down. Cross your affected foot over your other knee and manually begin to move your toe up and down. Hold each bend of your toe for 30 seconds.

Flexibility Exercise

This flexibility exercise is usually performed by a therapist, but can also be performed by the patient himself. Cross your affected foot over your unaffected knee and gently grab your foot with your opposite hand behind the big toe joint. Hold your foot stationary throughout this exercise. Use your other hand to gently begin pulling your bit toe away from your foot as if you were trying to pull your toe directly out of its socket. Hold this pressure and begin to gently rotate your toe in a clockwise/counterclockwise motion.

Dorsiflexion Exercises

Cross your affected foot over your opposite knee and use your hands to manually bend your toe backward as far as you can go without serious pain. Hold your toe in this position for 20 to 30 seconds and then release. You may want to try bending your toe back and forth using only the muscles of your foot before performing another repetition of this exercise. You should do this exercise three times daily, if it is prescribed by your therapist.


The abduction/adduction exercise is a range of motion that can be performed any time you aren’t wearing shoes. Spread your toes as wide as they can go without assistance.Press your toes together. Hold each position for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat as directed by your doctor. If this isn't as effective as you would like, you can use your hands to help perform the motions by grabbing the end of your big toe and moving it toward and away from your other toes.

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