A turf toe is a sprain or tear of the joint capsule of the big toe joint which occurs when the joint is overextended. It got its name as it was more common in American Football where it become more prominent with the use of the artificial turfs. It can, however, occur in almost any sport played on any type of surface. All that is needed for the injury to occur is for the joint to become hyperextended (see the diagram below), as this will strain or tears the ligaments under the joint.
The initial management of a turf toe type injury is rest and ice with some strapping to restrict the movement of the joint – medication may be needed to help with the swelling and pain. Just how much rest and how long you need to be off it will depend on the grade or severity of the injury. A Grade 3 is the more serious type and will need much more time and you may even need to go into a Moon boot or walking brace to protect weightbearing and immobilise the joint. It may even need surgery. A Grade 1 can return to sport a lot sooner once the initial acute phase is over as the extent of the is not as great.
Once the initial acute phase of the injury is over and as weightbearing starts to increase and a return to sports activity is starting to occur, then the movement of the joint still needs to be restricted and protected. This will continue to help recovery and prevent any more damage as activity levels are increased. An efficient way to do this is to use one the the carbon fiber insoles in the shoe to make the forefoot more rigid and have a reduced range of motion of that big toe joint. These carbon fibre inserts are only about 1.0 to 1.2mm thick and take up very little room in the shoe. They do allow more activity with reduced pain in those recovering from a turf toe type injury.
The Morton’s extension type of rigid plate is more useful for this particular problem as it does allow the other joints in the ball of the foot to move.