back pain and big toe

Ból pleców i głowy – a od palucha się zaczęło!

Working the big toe over a longer period of time is important from the point of view of back problems, especially in the lower spine.

Impossible? And yet!

It’s late at night. The last patient left a long time ago, and I still can’t sleep thinking about the problem… the big toe (yes, I know there’s something wrong with me 🙂 ) and how, gosh, it’s possible that a relatively small problem can cause global changes in the system of myofascial tensions in our body. The truth is that you have to look at the body as a whole and you cannot analyze a problem in one part of the body without looking at other parts of our body.


Here are some examples to prove my point. 

  • Neck pain may radiate to the head or shoulder. 
  • Pelvic problems can cause pain along the back, even to the top of the head. 
  • Surgeries can change the distribution of fascia and muscle tension, which may result in discomfort or pain even long after the procedure (an example is heart surgery and shoulder pain). 

 The system of nerve and fascial connections connects distant parts of the body, allowing them to communicate with each other, in which the brain plays a key role. In addition, there is a factor that is often overlooked: the psychological factor. Its influence on how we perceive stimuli in our body is wrongly disregarded or perceived as less important. And it’s the other way around. Emotions and psyche can sometimes be more important than strictly biological/physical factors such as tissue damage or nerve compression.

But what about that big toe?

But let’s get back to the big toe and why it can cause back and headache pain.

The big toe (although not that big compared to other parts of the body) can play quite a trick when it comes to our musculoskeletal system. You may not believe it, because how can a big toe cause such serious consequences?


The most common symptom will be pain resulting from excessive load on tissues and joints. These are small loads, but they add up in the long run.

We take an average of 5,000 steps (2,500 for each leg :-)), which will have a particular significance in the occurrence of injuries. It is the number of steps and the accumulation of overloads from the bottom (from the foot) up (to the head) that will result in a number of negative consequences.

Under normal conditions, during walking, the toe bends upwards when the ankle joint does the work of bending the foot down, which allows the body weight to be freely transferred to the other leg.

But changes in this important walking rhythm (let’s call it that) may occur, for example, in patients with hallux rigidus (from Latin Hallux rigidus). 

 Let’s see what happens when the big toe does not work properly and does not bend sufficiently. 


Stiff hallux and domino effect…

When the big toe does not work properly, the medial part of the foot is loaded, which results in a number of changes in the main joints of the lower limb, and the knee is bent prematurely, which also leads to inappropriate operation of the hip joint extensors.

Internal rotation of the hip joint also occurs (the thigh turns inward) and excessive load is placed on the outer part of the knee, including the lateral meniscus and ligamentous apparatus. 

And here we come to the point that interests me the most due to my specialization –  back pain. 

Because see, the pelvis on the side of the hallux rigidus will tilt and shift – this, in turn, may result in major changes in the alignment of the vertebrae in the spine and neck.

Of course, we don’t walk crooked (we want to walk straight), so some muscle groups will become more tense than others. The joints of the spine will not work evenly. It’s a bit like on a swing – balance is disturbed because there is no muscle tension. This will cause changes in loads on the joints. 

It’s no wonder that the work of the big toe is important and can contribute to pain and tension problems from (you guessed it) THE TOE to the TOP OF THE HEAD.

You can work on the big toe and get the joints to function properly – a number of techniques may be useful, including fascial techniques, manual therapy, osteopathic techniques, massage, etc.

It is worth remembering that a number of changes described above will also occur as a result of other problems in the foot. 

At Physio – Soton, we mainly help patients with back pain, but we also deal with sports injuries and posture defects

Are you struggling with pain?

Call and make an appointment – ​​07835224603

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Marek Czeladzki



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