Mar 29 2016

The Big Toe: What’s the big deal?

"Big Toes" by waltshcul.

Have you ever wondered why we have one toe that is much bigger than the rest? Well, there is very good reason.


First, imagine your toes were all the same size. How would you stand or walk differently? We may be able to manage without one of the smaller toes without having a significantly detrimental effect on our gait pattern or lower leg alignment, but the same is not true if we were to be without a big toe.


Without the big toe, movement mechanics are affected in the foot, knee, hip, pelvis, and on and on it goes right up to the neck. The big toe is the keystone to a number of spirals that trace up our body, and keep us upright, aligned and moving forward. The big toe alone is integral in creating a sling shot effect that occurs through the leg and hip joint that propels us forward as we walk.


Imagine running or even walking without a big toe! Surely, it would be slow and probably quite painful.


The Pilates Reformer Jumpboard is a fun and valuable tool to really feel the big toe in action. Each jump is made bigger and stronger because of the push off from the big toe. Next time you are inclined to feel like a kid again, try jumping or skipping, and feel how the big toe pushes you off the ground.


Learn more about the important mechanics of the foot in the upcoming BODY HARMONICS® Foot & Ankle: The Body's Spring System workshop. BODY HARMONICS® offers the most extensive range of Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics workshops available to Pilates and Movement Practitioners. PMA-Approved. Visit for a complete list of workshops.


Written by Holly Wallis, Certified Movement & Rehabilitation Specialist, PMA®-CPT

Director, ReActive Movement, 6200 LaSalle Ave, Oakland, CA 94611


© 2016. All rights reserved.

ReActive Practitioners have extensive training and experience working with many structural and functional conditions, including...

  • Posture/Gait Imbalances
  • Hip Instability/Mobility Issues including pre-/post-operative care for hip scope and replacement
  • Shoulder Instability/Mobility Issues including frozen shoulder, rotator cuff imbalances/injuries, pre-/post-operative care for shoulder replacement
  • Spine Issues (Spinal Stenosis, pre- & post-operative care for discectomy, laminectomy, spinal fusion, DDD, ankylosing spondylitis, spondylolisthesis, disc bulges/herniations – Post-rehab)
  • Knee Instability/Mobility Issues including Patellar Femoral Syndrome, pre-/post-operative care for knee scope and replacement
  • Scoliosis – Functional & Structural
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteopenia/Osteoporosis
  • Pre- & Post-natal including diastasis recti, C-Section, SIJ pain/pelvic instability and dysfunction
  • Low, Mid- & Upper back pain (incl Core Stabilization/Muscle Recruitment issues)
  • Muscular Recruitment/Patterning Issues including habitual compensations, faulty recruitment/patterns
  • Chronic conditions – Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, chronic pain syndromes, MS, etc
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Standing & Walking stability issues including balance issues, leg discrepancy, neurological disorders (ie stroke)
  • Functional Movement Issues (ie difficulty performing movements of everyday life ie sit-stand, bending, lifting, pushing, pulling, managing stairs, etc)
  • Sport-Specific Training (golf, tennis, cycling, climbing, swimming, running, education for safer and more effective gym training, etc)
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