The Strange Case of Morton’s Toe.

This blog is not about one of the toes of one of those people who have had a leg assessment at SBR Sport. Morton’s toe is a field of study that deals with a longer second toe. If your big toe is shorter than the toe next to it you have a Morton’s toe. One the positive side, that makes you fairly unusual, as only 10% of the population have this feature. On the negative side, you might just be a bit more prone to injury.morton dudley

So, how did a second toe that is longer than the first, or big toe, get its name? Morton’s toe, or also referred to as Morton’s syndrome, was named after Dr. Dudley Morton, a physician and orthopedic surgeon.

Morton’s toe should not be confused with Morton’s Neuroma.  Morton’s neuroma was named after Thomas Morton. There is something about carrying the surname Morton and being fascinated by toes. I have written a blog on Morton’s Neuroma which you can find here; //

Most people’s toes progressively shorten in length from the big toe to the baby toe. People with a Morton’s toe have a second toe either equal to, or longer than the big one. Most often it’s not that the toe is actually longer but the blame lies in the big toe, in that its metatarsal is shorter than the metatarsal of the second toe. morton foot

So, why the blog?

The condition according to Doc Dudley Morton can predispose you to a number of injuries. Here is a list from Dudley Morton:

  • Back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Knee pain
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Bunions and hammer toes
  • Temporomandibular joint pain.
    That list, although not totally accurate, should have got you looking down at your toes by now, either with a sigh of relief or a muffled cry of panic.
    Your foot should distribute your weight like a tripod. Your heel at the back, your baby toe metatarsal on the outside and your big toe metatarsal on the inside stabilize the foot. The wider the tripod, the more stable the foot. With a shorter first metatarsal the body is forced to place more weight on the second metatarsal thus narrowing the ‘tripod’ effect and making the foot a bit more like an ice-skate. The foot now becomes more prone to either pronation, a rolling inward of the foot, or, supination, a rolling outward of the foot. It’s this that can cause the hips, back and neck to move out of alignment.

So, what should I do if I have this?

  1. Realize that this is a genetic condition. Before writing a sarcastic thank you letter to one of your parents, realize that you will carry the gene forward too.
  2. Podiatrists are able to make orthotics that will help stabilize the foot.
  3. Various running shoes and cycling shoes are designed to look after feet that either pronate or supernate. This is one of the things that we test for when people come into the shop to buy running shoes. Here is a bit more about what we do with regard to this – //
  4. Regular massage will help ease muscles that have been overworked by the condition.  Here is a list of muscles that can get painful with the condition:
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Tensor Fasciae Latae
  • Quadriceps
  • Peroneus Longus
  • Tibialis Posterior
  • Adductor Longus
  • Flexor Hallucis Brevis.
    We can also help you get those areas dealt with.

morton liberty

Don’t get too down if you have the condition, one of the world’s most famous statues depicts a woman with a Morton’s toe. Here is a picture of the Statue of Liberty. Her feet have held both her and her torch successfully for years.


Mike Roscoe.

Mike Roscoe

About sbrsport

SBR Sport specialises in Swimming, Biking and Running. On the medical side we are able to do intensive bike setups, leg assessments and soft tissue release.
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