The big toe is responsible for pushing off your foot as you walk forward. Injury, wear and tear, and surgery, such as bunion surgery, can reduce the flexibility and range of motion in your big toe. Loss of flexibility can affect your gait because your big toe can’t bend back far enough for you to walk normally. In some cases, simple toe stretches and exercises can help restore and increase flexibility in your big toes.
Sit in a comfortable position on the floor or in a chair. Cross your right ankle over your left knee.
Wrap your fingers over your big toe with your fingertips resting near the big joint at the base of your toe. Press your thumb into the top of the joint and gently bend your toe back as far as is comfortable. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds, then release.
Slide your thumb up to the middle joint of your big toe and press your toe forward as far as is comfortable. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and release. Repeat each stretch three times.
Repeat both stretches on the other foot.
Weighted Toe Stretches
Stand next to a wall to help you maintain your balance, if necessary. Shift your weight to one foot and lift the heel of your other foot – keep your toes planted on the floor.
Press into your toes, gently, and rotate your heel clockwise and counterclockwise. Slide your foot back and bend your knee to deepen the stretch. Rotate 10 times in each direction.
Lift your foot, curl your toes under and rest your foot on the top of your toes. Roll your foot left and right to stretch your big toe in the opposite direction.
Shift to your other foot and repeat the stretch sequence.
Consult your physician if you experience pain or severe loss of range of motion in your toe.