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What’s turf toe and how to tape it

  • 4 min read

Turf toe taping

Turf toe is not your run-of-the-mill bump and bruise. It is one of the most common injuries of athletes, especially football players, that may just put a player on the sidelines.

In most cases, kinesiology taping can help with mobility, reduces the risks of injuries, and relieves the symptoms of sports-related injuries. 

In this article, you’ll know more about turf toe, its symptoms, and how to treat it. Plus, learn how to prevent them by using kinesiology tapes. 

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What is turf toe?

Turf toe also called ametatarsophalangeal joint sprain, is a term derived from a sports-related injury to describe a sprain of the ligaments around the joints of the big toe. This joint is like a hinge that gives you the ability to tiptoe. 

The injury happens when you bend your big toe with too much force while running or jumping and causes the joint to stretch. When you’re tiptoeing or bending that joint, you’re putting all your weight on the joints, ligaments, and bones in that area and if done too strenuously, this may result in a tear.

The injury is commonly referred to as “turf toe” because many football players who play on artificial turf suffer this injury. This is because of the hard surface and the increasing preference to wear more flexible shoes.

Turf toe happens when a player pushes too hard against the turf to sprint and make quick movements to avoid their opponents. 

Apart from football players, other athletes and professionals who also suffer from turf toe are basketball players, ballerinas, wrestlers, and gymnasts, to name a few. 

What are the symptoms of turf toe?

Here are the symptoms of turf toe: 

Tenderness and Pain

Everyone has stubbed their toe at least once in their life. Painful, isn’t it? Imagine that (x10!) with a more lingering pain to a point wherein you can’t even put your weight on it. For some, the pain only appears when you press on it. For more severe cases, they may have to take medications to relieve the pain. 

Swelling and Bruising

Any type of injury caused by putting too much force and stress usually results in swelling and bruising. This may lead you to wear more breathable and comfortable footwear choices for the next few days.

Limited movement

Since this injury is located at the part of the body that carries all your body weight, you may have to expect that you will need assistance while you recover. The reason why you got turf toe in the first place is because of the pressure. Lessen the pressure to hasten your recovery period.

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How do you treat a turf toe?

Before going to any kind of treatment, you must seek a professional first. They would have to diagnose first through a series of tests and questions:

  1. Your doctor must know how you got injured. It’s best to describe the ground, your footwear, what happened and how it happened.
  2. Your doctor will most likely ask about your pain level and check the condition of your swelling and bruising.
  3. Your doctor may test your toe’s range of motion to check how much it has affected your joints.
  4. Depending on the series of tests, to make sure, your doctor may require imaging tests like MRI, CT scans, or X-rays to rule out other injuries. 

The most common recommendations in treating or managing the pain caused by turf toe injuries are:

  1. Rest. When you’re stressed out, your mind needs rest, right? Well, so does your body. More than minimizing pressure and movements to your toe, your entire body needs to take a breather and recuperate from the damage. 
  2. Immobilization. Depending on the severity of your case, your doctor may strap it to the toe next to it or put a cast to fully prevent it from moving. Apart from this, for you not to accidentally put your weight on it during recovery, you may need to learn how to walk with crutches for a few weeks.
  3. Ice. To reduce the swelling and manage the pain, you may need to put ice on your injured toe. 
  4. Medication. Pain management medications due to sports-related injuries are common but usually under strict supervision. Depending on your level of pain tolerance and your lifestyle, your doctor may prescribe you over-the-counter medications to help with the swelling and relieve the pain. 
  5. Physical Therapy. Since your toe has been stagnant for quite some time after your rest, your body may need help towards recovery. A licensed physical therapist will make you do exercises slowly to keep your blood flowing and make sure your toe goes back to its former glory. Your therapist may also recommend kinesiology taping to relieve pain while aiding your joint stabilization.

Check out our kinesiology tapes in the Tape Geeks Amazon store.  


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How do you tape your turf toe?

Let’s huddle up and learn more about how kinesiology taping can prevent this injury and aid you in your recovery.

  1. Make sure your injured foot is clean and completely dry. 
  2. Measure your desired length for the tape. You can start by cutting it in 1-inch width. It’s best to use industrial-grade kinesiology tape scissors.
    (Check out our taping scissors here
  3. Apply the tape carefully and make sure not to make it too tight that it will cause blood flow restriction.
  4. Start taping by providing an anchor for the foot by circling the base of the big toe with one piece of tape. If you have long toes, use two pieces of overlapping tape. Note that your big toe should not be pointing up or down.
  5. Spread or fan out your toes and circle the arch of the foot with two pieces of overlapping tape. 
  6. Connect the tape of steps 4 and 5 by putting two overlapping vertical tapes from the middle of the foot to the base of the big toe.
  7. To secure and add support to the anchor, you can repeat steps 4 and 5. 
  8. This should make your big toe stable and unable to bend. 


Now that you know what turf toe is and how to tape it, make sure you spread the word especially now that NFL season is back!

Let’s geek over some tapes at our Amazon store and start your taping journey with Tape Geeks!

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