View Full Version : No Big Toe Question

02-06-2011, 04:43 PM
How difficult would it be to walk/run without a big toe on one foot? Would compensating for its loss eventually cause problems elsewhere on either leg?

running coach
02-06-2011, 04:45 PM
Running would be near impossible, walking difficult.

You power off the foot through your big toe.

Walking, I would imagine, could be done by lifting off flat-footed but it would be slow.

02-06-2011, 04:56 PM
My grandfather lost one big toe in a lawnmower accident, and it didn't slow him down any. So at the very least, it's certainly possible to adapt.

Mean Mr. Mustard
02-06-2011, 05:00 PM
You said this was a "no big toe question", then you go ahead and ask about big toes.

What gives?



02-06-2011, 05:06 PM
It is generally a major problem to lose all of your big toe. I had a friend when I was young that got his yanked off when he was trying to water ski and the reconstructive surgery was incredibly expensive and elaborate. He still needed months of physical rehab to learn to walk again and it was never quite right. Your big toe provides much of your balance when you are walking and it is the last part of your foot to leave the ground during a normal step. There are ways to correct the condition medically through prosthetics or building a new big toe out of other body tissue but leaving it off completely isn't a viable option for normal mobility.


02-06-2011, 10:16 PM
"You said this was a "no big toe question", then you go ahead and ask about big toes.

What gives?"


02-07-2011, 05:04 AM
My history prof when in high school had lost the front half of one foot and had to quit semi pro baseball. He also walked with an odd sort of gait, almost a one sided waddle. I would say that losing a big toe would be pretty impairing.

I know that when my CPPD affects the joint of the first metatarsal/phlang prox [big toe] walking can be problematical, as can driving. It is amazing how much you use toe pressure when driving rather than the hole of the foot. Not so much the others, it is hitting the third meta/phalnge prox and media and other than walking more on the heel and towards the 'ball' of the foot it is not overly problematic. But then again after 3 years I have more than enough experience gimping around with heavy foot pain that wanders around pretty much randomly.

02-07-2011, 06:24 AM
My high school physics teacher was missing a big toe. He had a distinct limp -- I'm not sure I'd describe it as a one-sided waddle, bit it was close.

02-07-2011, 06:31 AM
My wife had her big toe cut off in a lawn-mower accident when she was 3 years old. Her parents were told she may never walk right, but she has no visible limp and runs several times a week. She did a half marathon last year.

02-07-2011, 06:45 AM
I have a friend that lost his big toe to a farming accedent when he was a teenager. He's 65 now and it has NEVER stopped him from doing ANYTHING in his life. It did keep him out of the Army though. He was mad about that.

02-07-2011, 09:31 AM
yep, but with the caveat, 'depending on your age,' i can say with personal experience to back it up that big toes ARE a big deal.

some years ago, i shattered my right big toe in a fall down the stairs. the doc-n-the-box that x-rayed it initially, told me in no uncertain terms that it was beyond a simple 'tape to the other toe and go on,' injury because it was a 'critical, load-bearing apendage,' and the next best thing to emergency surgery was necessary because otherwise i was facing jeopardy with regard to ever walking normally again.

my bone surgeon said essentially the same thing because of my being well into adulthood. had i been something like three years old, it would have been a different story. as an adult in her then-40s, he also told me that in my case it would be YEARS before the break would go away, simply because that part of the human anatomy just doesn't get a big blood supply, which is essential for proper bone-break healing.

because it was such a bad break, he knocked me out and wrestled it back into place while looking at it through a fluroscope and ran some temporary surgical steel through it to hold everything together for a while. and i lived in a wheelchair or on crutches for many, many weeks afterward.

he was quite correct: all told, it took more than two years for the bone to completely heal.

02-07-2011, 09:51 AM
On my right foot, I have a pretty severe bunion, which if you don't know, is basically the big toe becoming angled, so that the tip of my big toe wants to overlap the end of the next toe over. Also part of this condition is that the bone at the base of the big toe protrudes out the side of my foot, making a big lump there. The lump is the part that's called the "bunion."

I also have a bunion on my left foot, but it's not nearly as severe as my right.

What this means is that on my right foot, the big toe is pretty much useless for transmitting any force. When I do yoga (I've been doing the P90X program for nine months now, and part of that is 90 minutes of yoga one day a week), I cannot do the balance postures on my right foot. It just doesn't work, even after nine months of practice. I have to hold onto something with my hand.

02-07-2011, 09:56 AM
My room mate lost his big toe and the one next to it, at about age 18.

He worked a long time in a swimming pool relearning to walk. Eventually, he could run just as fast as I could, and had no odd gait or anything.

02-07-2011, 12:02 PM
Big toes have been used to replace missing thumbs, so it must be better missing a big toe than a thumb.

Here is the google search page (http://www.google.com/search?q=replacing+thumbs+with+big+toes&sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&ie=utf8&oe=utf8) on the subject. I am not linking to any page cause some of the photos are disturbing.

02-07-2011, 02:16 PM
To clarify, my grandfather didn't show a limp, either. You'd never know he was missing a toe unless he told you or you saw him barefoot. I don't know how long it took him to adapt, though, since it was before I was born.

kenobi 65
02-07-2011, 02:32 PM
Former NFL quarterback Earl Morrall (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/M/MorrEa00.htm) lost one of his big toes in a lawnmower accident in 1962. If it slowed down his running ability, it didn't seem to have a negative impact on his passing ability -- he continued playing until 1976, led the NFL in passing in 1968, was the winning quarterback in Super Bowl V for the Colts, and started for most of the Dolphins' undefeated season in 1972 (playing when the starter, Bob Griese, was injured).

02-07-2011, 03:06 PM
Without your big toe, you might do something stupid and nearly start a war with Czechoslovakia.

02-07-2011, 03:31 PM
Just wanted to add mower accident n = 4 to the list. My dad in his mid-40 removed his big toe such that it is just a nubbin (probably 1/3 of the Proximal phalanx of great toe (http://www.drnelsonclinic.com/bones_of_foot.htm) remaining) so it is almost just flat with the bottom of the rest of his toes, but he missed two weeks of running and then started right back up again- his race times didn't even dip.

The one complaint he has is that when he runs in the winter (in South Dakota), his other toes on that foot feel (get?) much colder than on his other foot.