Shortened First Ray
Don’t get offended if someone (especially your podiatrist) points out your short toes, especially your short big toe. It may seem like a cosmetic issue but having a short big toe can have some negative effects on your gait and cause further soft tissue complications in the future.
What constitutes the first ray?
The first ray includes the first metatarsal and first cuneiform bones. The big toe joint, the first metatarsophalangeal joint behaves as a spring and is in charge of propulsion. A compromised or inefficient gait due to a shortened metatarsal leads to a reduced range of motion which compromises the spring effect of the first ray. This inefficiency coaxes the other relevant structures involved in gait to work a lot harder. Other adaptions may include increased pressure in the first metatarsophalangeal joint or a shift in pressure to the lesser metatarsals which are not designed to take increased pressures. This could lead to other pathologies such as Morton’s neuroma, bursitis, the formation of painful callosities or even other soft tissue injuries.
If you think you have an abnormal first ray length, check in with your podiatrist to prevent further pathological progression.