Engaging the big toes?

Discussion in 'Barefoot & Minimalist Running' started by Sid, Feb 12, 2015.

  1. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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  2. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    Here is a historical film of a barefoot runner. It would seem that the big toes are well planted at time = 59 seconds.


    In contrast, here's a video of two-time 10,000 m Olympic Gold Medalist Haile Gebrselassie running barefoot at time = 58 seconds. There is no doubt that he is an elite athlete.


    Apparently, Haile Gebrselassie started out running barefoot in childhood.
    http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/09/26/revealed.HaileG.qanda/index.html
    However, Haile Gebrselassie seems to have some bunions. Makes one wonder if the bunions were caused by shoes? Perhaps that is the price one pays for lucrative shoe contracts?

    Barefoot Running Step by Step: Barefoot Ken Bob, 2011
    What do people think?
     
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  3. wanderingoutlaw

    wanderingoutlaw Barefooters
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    I've actually started making an effort to ensure that my big toes are engaging. The Morton's Toe thread in the Health section of the forum hints that those of us with Morton's Toe do not engage our big toe enough and use the second toe too much. Hopefully it will help my barefoot running.
     
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  4. migangelo

    migangelo Chapter Presidents
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    a few years ago i started engaging my left big toe. gave me shin splints that i can't get rid of. careful.
     

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  5. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    There's no doubt that engaging the big toes, is harder than it might appear.

    Apparently, some people have injured themselves.
    https://groups.google.com/d/msg/huaraches/OfxmL1ShbLk/50Wp2SWSYUkJ

    Looking at the historical video at time = 59 seconds, his toes plant and don't move at all, until liftoff.
    The video of the Olympian at time = 58 seconds, shows his toes bouncing around.

    I've found that it takes a lot of strength to engage the big toes safely, and I've been working at it for several months. My toes plant, and roll slightly, but don't bounce around. :D
     
  6. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    Also, I don't know if problems related to Morton's toe are directly related to the big toe. It might seem more so related to flexibility.

    For example, the hands are quite flexible. People have fingers of all lengths. Putting pressure on ones palms, such as during pushups, are not an issue, as the hands are pliable.

    The habitually barefoot seem to have more pliable feet.
    http://www.thebarefootrunners.org/index.php?posts/143956

    However, it is possible that the same processes that leads to better engagement of the big toes, might also lead to more flexible feet.
     
  7. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    So, I'm curious, just how are people engaging the big toes?

    I'm finding that I need to get the big toes mobilized and properly positioned, first. This seems to be harder to do on my left foot, which has a bunion.

    However, the more I try to engage the big toes, the straighter the bunions become!
     
  8. Efrem

    Efrem Barefooters
    1. California...

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    I lift my big toe on leg extension.
     
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  9. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    So, here are my experiences after about 6-8 weeks, with about 20+ runs.

    I’ve read articles suggesting that pressing down the big toe, while lifting the smaller toes, is a good sign of strength. However, I did not find this level of strength to be sufficient for my left foot problem, so I continued strengthening.
    http://anathletesbody.com/2011/07/09/less-from-your-shoes-more-from-your-feet/

    After about a year, my big toes have become fairly strong. I can now stand with my feet flat on the ground and lean forward, placing my center of mass over my big toes, and slip a piece of paper in and out under the first met. In my case, this appeared to be the minimum amount of strength needed to run with my big toes straight and engaged, and keep my left first met from driving into the ground.

    Another aspect that I work on is foot flexibility. Initially, while trying to engage the big toes, I found that my feet felt somewhat stiff. So, I constantly massage any sore or tight spots in my feet. I also work on passive and actively developing range of motion. My feet are fairly flexible now, and I think that has helped immensely. I am able to flex my feet and consciously land on any part of the forefoot: lateral, medial, central, or spread over the entire forefoot. This allows me to make subtle adjustments, when needed.

    Essentially, I walk and run with the big toes straight and extended. Initially, I found that extending the big toes completely, caused irritation at the interphalangeal joint. So I learned to flex the tip of the big toes slightly, so that the pad makes contact with the ground, rather than the joint. Other than doing this automatically now, I don’t actually do anything else with the big toes. I focus mostly on planting the foot and propelling forward.

    With the big toes engaged, it feels like I’m running more elastically and smoothly. It feels like my legs/feet are properly tensioned springs. It feels very invigorating.

    My forefoot seems much more stable, and feels like it has better contact with the ground. Like a car with an active suspension, my feet are firmly planted, allowing me to accelerate forward. My glutes feel like they are the primary muscles being used for propulsion.

    As for landing, I’m not exactly sure where I’m landing, as I don’t have video or pressure pad data. I feel that most of the pressure is diffusely and comfortably spread across my entire lateral forefoot first and then the big toes, with the heel touching down last and lifting off first.

    It also seems that the more I run like this, the stronger and straighter my big toes are. The skin is also more uniformly keratinized.

    Over the years, my form has continued to develop. Running with the big toes straight and engaged, is the most comfortable way of running for me, at this time. It has also seemed to helped me to be able to recover more quickly. I used to run 5mi 3-4 days weekly, and I'm now doing about 5-6 days.
     
  10. migangelo

    migangelo Chapter Presidents
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    i'm curious about your statement of sliding paper under your first met while leaning forward. i learned this at R2P but we slide paper under the toes, not the met heads. we distribute our weight on our heels and met heads then lift the toes and will slide paper under them to check. if you can slide paper under your met head, is your weight on your toes and heels? can you post a pic? thanks.
     

  11. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    I would say that the weight is on the heel, mid-lateral forefoot, and big toes. Maybe I can do better than take a pic. What if I get a snapshot of the pressure map from one of those Dr. Scholl's kiosks? I'd like to see what orthotic they'd recommend!

     
  12. randicoot

    randicoot Barefooters
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    When you engage the big toes which foot gets the ring? And does it go on the big toe or the ring toe?
    How long does the engagement last before they get married?
    I have a friend whose big toes got married and nine months later, sure enough, there was a new baby toe on the right foot. Due to a miscarriage, it was another two years before he stopped running in circles.
    I think my left big toe has a thing for my little toe on the same foot. Is this going to cause a neuroma?
    Some of these problems might be avoided if you wear rubber socks to bed.
     

  13. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    I suppose online forums are all about sharing experiences. That was very ... special. Thanks
     
  14. Sid

    Sid Barefooters

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    Update. Continued to work on this. Today, for the first time, I felt that everything was working smoothly. My left bunion has improved to the point that my left foot is now taking on its share of the load. I can feel the connection from each big toe up into the calves, like coiled springs.

    This morning's run was a revelatory moment, perhaps similar to when Dr. Mark tried CorrectToes. However, my toes no longer need correcting!
    http://www.thebarefootrunners.org/threads/articles-about-hallux-valgus.17677/#post-167289

    A nice quick effortless run on my usual route that easily shaved off several minutes. Woohoo! :D
     
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