When I was younger trainer, I used to snicker when people said that the big toe played a large role in movement. When other coaches wrote about the big toe, I honestly thought they were just trying to write a complicated blog or sound smart to impress others. There’s no way you have to worry about the big toe.
I can’t believe how wrong I was.
I completely missed the boat on this. I’m finding it’s one of those scenarios where you don’t truly understand the importance until you’ve injured that area.
Growing up as a soccer player, I experienced a little bit of turf toe. My condition was fairly mild and I was lucky enough that it never became a chronic issue. Keep in mind, I was always wearing footwear. Sneakers/cleats do provide a little bit of protection for the toes.
Fast forward 10 years and here I am spending a fair amount of time learning BJJ.
I’m not going to lie, my toes of gotten pretty jacked up and they’ve seen their share of mat burn and locked up swollen joints.
I’ve been playing around with some foot and toe mobility drills and I came up with the sequence in the video above. This has been a game changer for me and the fighters who have been through the whole progression.
Who are these foot and toe mobility drills good for?
- These drills are perfect for MMA, BJJ and anyone who has had trouble extending the great toe.
- I’ve actually used some of these drills with clients suffering from plantar fasciitis and it seems to improve their overall comfort level.
Here’s the foot and mobility progression from the video.
3 Position Foot Mobility in Plantar Flexion
- Heels towards one another
- Heels and toes neutral
- Heels driven away from each other
Hip Rocks with Toe Extension
- Heels towards one another with a focus on extension of the big toe
- Heels and toes neutral with a focus on the middle toes
- Heels driven away from one another with a focus on the pinky toe
The reason we call this the clock drill is because the goal is to aim the knee towards the different times on a clock. It’s simply provides a visual point of reference.
Make sure you utilize full ankle dorsiflexion before moving on to the toe mobility drills. Once you run out of space at the ankle, then progress on to each time on the clock.
- Right leg 3-5 reps in each position (11,12,1,2)
- Left leg 3-5 reps in each position (1,12,11,10)
You can finish up the sequence by performing knee walks. Make sure you take these slow and if you are having trouble with the technique, find someone who knows BJJ.
- Never move into pain
- Form these movements slowly
- When in doubt, shorten the range of motion
Honestly, I do these daily. Once you know the whole progression it takes about five minutes total. If you do practice MMA and BJJ, I would do this before practice.
Give these a try and keep those feet and toes happy!