The extensor hallucis longus muscle attaches to the small bone in the lower leg. It continues down the front of the leg connecting to a bone in the big toe. Trigger points in the muscle cause pain and cramping in the big toe and top of the foot.

Contents of Article

    Where Is The Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle?

    Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle Showing Trigger Points Location

    The extensor digitorum longus attaches to the top of the large bone (tibia) of the lower leg and to 3/4 of the length of the small bone (fibula) of the lower leg to attach via four tendons to bones (phalanges) in the four small toes.

    What Movements Does It Control?

    • Pulls the four small toes up
    • Pulls the foot up toward the front of the body
    • Assists in turning the foot outward
    • Assists in maintaining balance

    For detailed anatomy information: Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle Anatomy


    Extensor Digitorum Longus Muscle Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Extensor Digitorum Longus Referred Pain Pattern
    • Pain in the top of the feet by the toes
    • Pain will occasionally extend up toward the ankle
    • Difficulty raising the foot (foot drop)
    • Numbness in the top of the foot
    • Foot cramps
    • Contributes to the development of hammertoe and claw toe

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    What Causes Extensor Digitorum Longus Trigger Points To Develop?

    • Stubbing the toes
    • Kicking a ball
    • Pedaling a bike
    • Climbing stairs
    • Wearing high heels
    • Long drives and pushing down on the accelerator
    • Walking in sand

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    Yoga Toes Gems are highly recommended for anyone dealing with foot and lower leg pain. The separators not only stretch the muscles of the feet but also many muscles of the lower leg. Used regularly, Yoga Toes do help straighten and align your toes. They can also be helpful for some cases of bunions, hammertoes, and claw toes. It can also help with issues of plantar fasciitis. I prefer the Yoga Toes Gems because they are more supple, comfortable, and easier to use. To increase therapeutic treatment, relax while wearing Yoga Toes and then use the massage balls (below) to further massage and relax the muscles of your feet.

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    Extensor Digitorum Longus Trigger Point Treatment

    Though extensor digitorum longus trigger point pain is felt at the top of the foot and toes, the treatment is applied in the belly of the muscle in the shin. Once the trigger point is deactivated (gone), the pain in the foot will decrease.

    One option is to find someone trained in trigger point therapy to show you how to find the TrP and apply the treatment. Many massage therapists, chiropractors, and physical therapists have the specified training.

    You can also learn TrP self-treatment. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is an excellent resource to have on hand. The workbook will help you understand how and why TrPs develop. It includes diagrams and instructions on how to treat trigger points throughout the body.

    Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. If you have reoccurring leg or foot cramps you should keep Somba on hand, it provides almost instant relief. (Not sold in stores)

    Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain-relieving gel recommend for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. If your pain is from a recent injury, use Biofreeze. It is excellent to use on sprains, strained and sore ankles.

    How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

    Pain relief is noticed after just a few treatments. Continue with treatments until the area is no longer sensitive to pressure.

    Interesting facts:

    Dysfunction in the extensor digitorum longus muscle can lead to hammer toe and claw toes.

    TWD Recommends

    Sore shins or calves? Feel as if shin splints are coming on? The ProStretch Calf Stretcher & Foot Rocker can help! The stretcher/rocker stretches and helps to relax most of the muscles in the lower leg and foot. Used by physical therapists to treat sore shins and calves as well as foot pain and plantar fasciitis.

    Extensor digitorum longus muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:

    • L4 or L5 Radiculopathy
    • Hammer toe
    • Claw toe
    • Gout


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the extensor digitorum longus muscle:

    Trigger points in the muscle will cause TrPs to develop in other muscles. These are known as satellite trigger points. You will need to check these muscles for additional TrPs.

    • Extensor Hallucis Longus
    • Peroneus Longus
    • Peroneus Brevis
    • Peroneus Tertius
    • Tibialis Anterior

    Muscles That Contribute To These Conditions:

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    Muscles With Similar Pain Patterns

    Extensor Hallucis Longus
    Tibialis Anterior