Ever wondered why your big toe is so important for movement?
Have you ever hurt your big toe and been crippled from what seemed like a minor injury?
Well here is one of the reasons why: your Superficial Back Line (SBL).
The SBL is one continuous length of connective tissue starting/ending from your plantar fascia at the sole of your foot and traverses all the way up your posterior chain to end at the bony ridge at the base of the skull, connecting from there via your scalp to your eyebrow ridge. So if you’ve ever wondered, yes, your big toe is connected to your eyebrows. The plantar fascia connects to each metatarsal (toe joint) and the big toe being the largest metatarsal will have a bigger fascial attachment.
Try this: do a downward dog. This a great stretch for the SBL. Now I want you to really drive that big toe into the ground as you stretch into it. Feel the stretch along the inside portion of your calf. Now lift the big toe off the ground and repeat the downward dog. Can you feel how you lose that portion of the stretch to the inside calf?
This is a simple exercise but if we apply it in a larger context to our body, if we disengage the big toe from the ground when we move (run, jump, lunge, whatever!) we will actually disengage a large portion of the tissue in our body. And when I say ’tissue’ it means everything: muscle, tendon, ligament, fascia, ECM, skin. Disengaging the big toe might mean wearing improper footwear, lacking mobility at the big toe or incorrect technique when exercising.
So how to address this?
For one, wearing bulky shoes will not help in gaining greater toe mobility. Start mobilising your toes, get them in touch with the ground again. Train in the soft sand at the beach. Do yoga. Pick things up off the ground with your toes. Try marbles, pebbles, whatever. Start small. Little steps.
And this is just the SBL which is just one of the myofascial lines. What about the other myofascial lines?
Superficial Front Line. Where does it start? Oh, tibialis anterior. And where does that attach….first metatarsal you say? Yep, that’s the big toe.
Lateral line. Starting point – fibularis longus. And where does that attach? First metatarsal.
Spiral line. Tibialis anterior and fibularis longus. Big toe. Big toe.
Deep Front Line. Where? Flexor hallucis longus. You guessed it…big toe.
Now can you see that stubbing your toe not only affects your foot but really has far reaching implications for pretty much everything in your body?
Next time you train pay really good attention to what your big toe is doing in each of the exercises. You might be surprised in what he/she is ACTUALLY doing!
NB// These myofascial lines are the work of Thomas Myers and his sublime text, The Anatomy Trains 2nd Ed . The other thoughts are my own – Copyright Trevor Aung Than June 2013