Stretching Your Big Toe with Coach Joey

By Spenser Mes

Our toes, especially our big toe, which bears twice as much weight as the other four combined, rarely get the love they deserve. When we run, our toes maintain contact with the ground 75% of the time, elongating the foot and allowing us to go faster. And when we deadlift, squat, or do kettlebell swings, they help stabilize the body. Yet we often forget about our toes, which Joey compares to forgetting about your fingers when trying to hold a handstand. To increase overall flexibility and strength, he recommends the following:

  1. Sit on the ground with your left leg tucked in and your right foot on the ground (smiling not necessary)
  2. Grab the big toe and, without lifting the other toes, pull it toward you.
  3. Hold for two minutes and rest.
  4. Grab and pull again, but this time, resist the pull by pushing the big toe toward the ground for 15 seconds, building up to 100% intensity.
  5. Let go of the toe and pull it back back toward you (without assistance) for 15 seconds.
  6. Repeat three times.
  7. Switch legs. Progress might be slow at first. When Joey first started, he couldn’t lift his big toe independent of the other four. To fix that, he put his foot flat on the ground and practiced raising each one separately: first the big toe, then the other four. Within a few weeks he had full movement.

If you’re still having foot issues, the problem could also be with your lifting form, so consider signing up for a private lesson. Joey specializes in Olympic Weightlifting (5,000+ hours of coaching experience) and is one of the few Level 3 CrossFit coaches in the city.

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