Conservative Therapy for Hallux Limitus

Ariana Purificati FunePerformance, RecoveryLeave a Comment

Hallux Limitus is a condition that causes a reduced range of motion in the big toe. Degeneration of the cartilage between bones breaks down until the articulation is bone-on-bone and the joint cannot glide properly. Small floating bones may shift out of place, and excess bony deposits can form, further reducing motion of the big toe1.

The main goal of conservative treatment for Hallux Limitus is to maintain the range of motion in the big toe to prevent complete rigidity. Below, we will walk you through different forms of at-home treatments.


As highlighted in one of our other blog posts, insoles that are designed to alleviate pressure from, and prevent movement of the toes, will relieve pain while walking.

“custom made insoles can be helpful in reducing pain caused by Hallux Limitus and keep inflammation of your big toe down”


Similarly to insoles, you want to look for a pair of shoes that relieve pressure off of the big toe to reduce symptoms of hallux limitus. Shoes that have a larger toe box will not restrict the big toe, and allow it to sit in its natural position while weight-bearing.

Toe Spreaders

Toe spreaders will abduct your big toe, stretching out the intrinsic foot muscles that may be getting stiff and contributing to that rigidity. Moving your toe back into its proper position will cause the floating bones to move back into place.


To palpate the first metatarsal, feel along a long bony structure down the inside of your foot. Continue towards your toes until you feel it enlarge, that is where the joint will be. Stabilize just below this point with one hand, then use the other to do these mobilizations.

Palpating the first metatarsal

Traction. Pull the big toe away from your foot.

Glide. Glide the big toe up and down at the joint.

Abduction. Pull the big toe away from your second toe.

Rotation. Rotate the big toe back and forth at the joint.


Stretching the extensor hallucis muscles each day is important for maintaining range of motion through the joints. Stabilize the first metatarsal as you did during the self-mobilizations, and bend your toe towards the sole of your foot.

Being constantly restricted in the toe box of your shoes may cause the muscles around the big toe to stiffen in a shortened position. Stretching and massaging these muscles will help the toes rest in their natural position.


If you feel that massaging is not effective, and you want a more aggressive treatment for the adductors, use the corner of the Eclipse to release the tissue.


Hallux limitus reduces motion and causes pain in the big toe. If left untreated can progress into a more severe condition called hallux rigidus. The best conservative treatments for this injury maintain range of motion at the big toe.


  1. Hallux Rigidus. (2022, July 15). Physiopedia, . Retrieved 17:11, October 6, 2022 from
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Ariana Purificati Fune

Ariana is a Certified Personal Trainer and holds a BSc in Kinesiology. She has a passion for making fitness inclusive and accessible to everyone.

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