Not All Toes are Created Equal

I’m in the process of becoming certified as a running coach (yay!). During the course of my studies, I’ve learned a lot about the toes! I find this subject fascinating because I have so many problems with mine.

Since I’ve increased my mileage these past two years, it seems I’m always nursing at least one blister at all times! If you don’t believe me, check out these photos I took of my left foot and my right foot a few days ago. (Warning: you may get grossed out!!! Proceed with caution). And no, this was not right after a 50k! This is just from my normal weekly workouts.

my toes
I try to keep my toes well-manicured, despite the blisters!

So why did I choose this title for my post? To ensure everyone understands the important role of the big toe in running mechanics as well as to help you avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way.

According to my coaching certification program, the big toe is responsible for a much greater percent of foot and body stabilization (compared to the other toes) as well as forward propulsion. As a result, it’s really important to not crowd your big toe in particular, in the toe box of your running shoes. It’s seems this is not something I, myself, have been successful at doing.

Here is another little-known fact. The big toe carries 12 times more weight than the pinkie toe! In fact it has its own set of muscles and tendons dedicated to its movement. Who knew? As a result, if you crowd your toes by wearing running shoes that are too small, you can substantially reduce your running efficiency (aka speed/performance).

And crowding your toes can lead to all sorts of other problems, such as chronic blisters and even worse, bunions!

So, do yourself a favor, pay attention to how your toes feel the next time you go out for a run. Wait until you’ve been running for awhile before taking mental note of how they feel as they need time to get warmed up and swell. If you’re like me, you’ll soon realize you may be overcrowding those little piggies and have to admit you’re really a half-size bigger than you thought you were! Then go out to Shoe Carnival (like I did), buy yourself an inexpensive pair of Asics GEL Ventures in a half-size bigger than you’re currently wearing, and try them out. Your feet will love you!

Now all I am wondering is what am I’m supposed to do with the 15 pairs of (expensive) trail shoes I currently own that don’t fit me anymore? Anyone out there a true women’s size 9?



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