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Flexor Hallucis Longus Muscle: Big Toe and Foot Pain

(Last Updated On: August 10, 2018)

Pain in the big toe going into the ball of the foot under the big toe can be a sign of flexor hallucis longus muscle dysfunction.

What are the pain and symptoms associated with the flexor hallucis longus muscle?

  • Pain in the big toe radiating to the ball of the foot
  • Numbness on the bottom side of the big toe

Where is the flexor hallucis longus muscle?

It is located in the back of the lower leg. The muscle connects to the small bone of the lower leg (fibula) and extends down the back of the leg into the bottom of the foot where it connects to the big toe (distal phalanx).

What movements does the flexor hallucis longus control?

  • It bends the big toe downward
  • It helps you bend the foot downward and point your toes

Activities that cause flexor hallucis longus pain and symptoms:

  • Running or walking on uneven ground
  • Worn shoes
  • Shoes that do not have proper padding in the ball of the foot
  • Wearing flip flops and other open heeled shoes
  • Wearing high heels
  • Walking or running barefoot in deep sand
  • Immobility in the big toe joints due to arthritis or injury


Flexor Hallucis Longus Muscle Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

You use the flexor hallucis longus muscle when you bend the big toe downward.

Interesting facts about the flexor hallucis longus muscles:

  • Numbness felt on the bottom of the big toe is a classic sign of flexor hallucis longus dysfunction.
  • Pain caused by the flexor hallucis longus muscle is often diagnosed as gout. If you have been diagnosed with gout and medication does not seem to be working, examine the muscle for trigger points, soreness, and tightness.
  • Wearing flip flops and other open heeled shoes can contribute to problems because the muscle is over-worked. The toes curl and grip each step to hold the shoes in place.

Clinical diagnoses to which the flexor hallucis longus symptoms may contribute:

  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  • Gout
  • Bunion
  • L4 radiculopathy
  • Turf Toe

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the flexor hallucis longus muscle:

Satellite trigger points associated with the Flexor Hallucis Longus:

  • Tibialis posterior
  • Extensor digitorum longus
  • Extensor digitorum brevis

For detailed anatomy information: Flexor Hallucis Longus Anatomy

Help with Big Toe and Ball of the Foot Pain Caused by the Flexor Hallucis Longus Muscle

Cold Therapy Gel for Sudden Onset Foot and Toe Pain or Pain Due to Recent Injury

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries. It is better than warm therapy gels and creams for recent injury muscle pain as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If your pain is from a recent injury I would recommend Biofreeze. To treat the flexor hallucis longus muscle, rub BioFreeze into the back of the knee, down the calf and into the bottom of the foot including the toes.

Hot Cold Pack For Lower Leg Treatment

CorPak Soft Comfort Hot & Cold Pack Wrap is a versatile pack that can be used to treat the lower leg, foot / ankle, as well as other painful areas of the body. This pack works well for the flexor hallucis longus as it will cover the length of the calf and can then be used to wrap the foot for full treatment. The pack is filled with pliable gel and has a soft frost free cover that will not irritate your skin. For recent injuries, use it cold to reduce swelling. For older injures or chronic pain use heat to relax the muscles and increase circulation.

Warm Therapy Gel to Relieve Foot and Big Toe Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a warming pain relieving gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. Unlike other over the counter heating creams, it provides warmth without burning heat. Applying Sombra to the muscles on the back of the leg, down to the bottom of the foot including the bottom of the big toe can help reduce pain and tightness caused by the flexor hallucis longus muscle. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and pain from arthritis.

Lower Leg Compression Sleeves

Lower Leg Compression Sleeves are used by many athletes. Compression sleeves provide compression, support and warmth without adding bulk to the lower leg muscles. Sleeves are recommended by athletic trainers for shin splints. strained calf muscles and overuse injuries of the lower leg muscles. Sleeves are also great as a preventative measure against shin splints and tired sore calf muscles after sports activities. Compression sleeves are also shown to reduce recovery time after strenuous activities and injury.

Note: If you suspect or have ever been diagnosed with blood clots consult your doctor before using compression sleeves or braces.

Graduated Compression Socks for Support and Recovery

Eurosocks Over The Calf Compression Socks have become a go-to for both amateur and professional athletes for lower leg, ankle and foot injury recovery. Graduated compression helps relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness as well as discouraging inflammation. The socks wickable fabric keeps skin dry and DryStat technology inhibits the growth of odor causing microbes. The over the calf style works very well for flexor hallucis longus muscle recovery as the sock will cover the entire muscle. If you suspect or have been treated for blood clots, consult with a doctor before using compression on the lower legs.

Massage Balls To Relieve Foot Pain

Massage balls can be used to relieve tension in many areas of the body and are exceptionally effective for your feet. I like the FlexFixx Massage Ball Set. The set includes a smooth ball and two spiked balls which will give you maximum treatment for various aches and pains in your feet. The balls are sturdy and can deliver very firm pressure. The set comes with instructions and exercises. Rolling your feet takes just a few minutes each day and can deliver excellent results for both foot and lower leg pain.

Stretch The Calf and Foot Muscles To Relieve Flexor Hallucis Foot and Toe Pain

Medi-Dyne Pro Stretch for Plantar Fascitis and Calf Pain is a device that provides a deep stretch to the foot and lower leg muscles. This device is used in many physical therapists offices and rehab facilities to those who have lower leg pain and cramps and for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. When you first use the Pro Stretch be sure to start off slowly, 5 to 10 seconds per stretch, gradually building up reps and longer stretch times.

Self Treatment for Flexor Hallucis Longus Foot and Toe Pain

Do you know that small "knots" and other dysfunction in the flexor hallucis longus muscles can contribute to pain in the big toe that extends into the ball of the foot?

If you have this pain pattern I recommend that you purchase Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief.. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language. But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain, how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. If you have unresolved pain in the big toe and ball of the foot, you may want to learn about the trigger point in the flexor hallucis longus muscles which can help you resolve your pain issues. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

Thera-Cane

The Thera Cane Massager is my first choice of purchase with the workbook for two reasons: First, you can easily reach the bottom of your feet without the need to bend or contort your body. Secondly, once you understand trigger points, you will find that you will want to treat other muscles and you may need help accessing the muscles. The Thera Cane allows you to easily treat all muscles of the body, including back muscles. If you have weak or arthritic hands, you may need a tool to help you use and hold the pressure required for trigger point treatment.  If you are buying the workbook, the Thera Cane is worth the investment!

If you are limber but have issues with pain in your hands, The Knobble works great to treat muscles in the sole of the foot. It is easily gripped and the point is nicely rounded to apply even pressure with out feeling sharp and pokey. The Knobble will also help you treat many other points throughout the body with the exception of muscles located in the back. A great tool for runners who treat foot and leg trigger points on a regular basis.

The Knobble

If you are limber but have issues with pain in your hands, The Knobble works great to treat muscles in the sole of the foot. It is easily gripped and the point is nicely rounded to apply even pressure with out feeling sharp and pokey. The Knobble will also help you treat many other points throughout the body with the exception of muscles located in the back. A great tool for runners who treat foot and leg trigger points on a regular basis.


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