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Indoor Field Sports Hazzard: Turf Toe

Indoor Field Sports Hazzard: Turf Toe

The coldest NFL football game may have been the Ice Bowl played at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, on December, 31, 1967 (air temperature was -13°F; windchill -48) or the Freezer Bowl played at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium on January 10, 1982 (air temp was -9°F, windchill, an astounding -51); both sides have a claim. But our suggestion for playing field sports when it gets that cold: Find an indoor venue! You’ll dodge respiratory woes, frostbite, and stiff fingers that won’t grab a ball.

But be aware: You’re at risk for a common indoor sports injury -- turf toe, caused by hyperextension of the big toe’s metatarsophalangeal joint (where the first long bone of the foot meets the first bone of the toe). The condition got its name from unforgiving artificial turf that snags cleats and doesn’t have the give of grass. The condition also afflicts wrestlers, gymnasts, dancers, soccer and basketball players, as well as footballers.

If you have pain in the first joint of the big toe (an MRI will reveal if anything is torn), ease the discomfort with R.I.C.E: rest, ice, compression, elevation. For a mild case, have a physical therapist tape your toe and/or foot to ease the strain and stabilize the joint; and get instructions on how to do it yourself, so you can tape it when you need to. As with any strain, you have to give turf toe time to heal in order to avoid chronic problems. You want to feel good enough to hit the grass running come Spring!

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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