The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Hey There, Abductor Hallucis Muscle!

Posted by on Monday, August 13th, 2012


People often talk about how many bones there are in your feet: 26 bones in each foot, 25% of your body’s bones are found in your feet, etc., etc. But your foot isn’t just a bag of bones–there are muscles in those feet, and they can get injured, too. For example, there’s your abductor hallucis muscle.

My what? Abducted by who muscle? The abductor hallucis muscle! This nifty little muscle starts at your calcaneous, or heel bone, runs along the arch, and then slides into the side of your big toe. It helps you move and flex your big toe, and holds up the arch of your foot.

I am in favor of any muscle that lets me do things like that. What could possibly go wrong with it? Just like any muscle in your body, it can be strained (I know, that makes me think of little sad face emoticons, too). How might it be strained, you ask?

You are so ahead of me today. One word: coffee.

I’ll keep that in mind. Now how do you strain an abductor hallucis? Like many strains, this is an overuse injury. You can strain your abductor hallucis from standing too long, putting too much weight on it, or over pronating when you run and walk.

How do I know I have a strained abductor hallucis? You’ll notice pain along the inside arch of your foot while you’re putting weight on it. If you press that area, you’ll feel pain and tenderness. Pain may cause you to over pronate (if you’re not already over pronating). To make sure you have the right diagnosis, though, it is best to see a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) for a foot exam and accurate diagnosis.

So what can I do about it? First, rest your foot from activities that make your arch hurt. You can apply ice to the strained area several times a day and take anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and pain. A podiatrist can tape your foot to  take stress off the arch; ultrasound treatment can also relieve pain and promote healing. Finally, a podiatrist may recommend custom-fit orthotics to stop over pronating that may be straining your abductor hallucis.

Can I do anything else to help my abductor hallucis? Try strengthening that abductor hallucis! Livestrong has some easy exercises that will make your abductor hallucis happy and tougher than nails. Best of all, you’ll only need a few simple every day things like a towel and a tennis ball (I’m sure Spot won’t mind if you borrow his spit-covered, grass-coated tennis ball).

Now that you’ve cracked open the wonderful world of the abductor hallucis, you’ll be ready to take on anyone who wants to brag about foot bones. Go, foot muscles! Let us sally forth on a trek around the world with our mighty bendable big toes and strong arches!


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.