The Painful Meaning of “Turf Toe,” “Metatarsalphalangeal Joint Sprain,” or “Death Toe”

Turf toe is a funny-sounding injury with serious results.

Recently, the Detroit Lions’ Jahvid Best was forced out of a football  game due to turf toe — Grade 2 turf toe, to be exact. It’s a funky name for what can become an significant injury for professional athletes.

First of all, turf toe gets its name because athletes who play on artificial turf face the highest risk of suffering from it. This means football players, rugby players, and ultimate frisbee players are all susceptible.

(As a side note, rugby is also called rugger. It is named after a public school where the game was played in Rugby, England.)

The unfortunate injury occurs when a toe is hyperextended, injuring the joint. Turf toe refers specifically to when this kind of injury involves the big toe (or hallux.)

A metatarsalphalangeal joint sprain is an injury to the joint and connective tissue between the foot and any one of the toes. Anything metatarsophalangeal relates to articulations between the metatarsal bones and the phalanges of the foot.

So how exactly does one get turf toe? The injury is most likely to occur when an athlete’s knees and toe tips are touching the ground and then someone falls on the back of the calf. Ouch.

Shoes with cleats that have very flexible soles can also cause turf toe.

Now consider something trickier; do you know what the “quarter” in “quarterback” refers to? Here’s the answer.


  1. Kate -  October 26, 2010 - 9:39 am

    Does it happen to soccer players too? I’d imagine it would.

  2. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  October 11, 2010 - 6:59 am

    Rykan V: Oh my gosh!!! Yes I love them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Rykan V -  October 4, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    @The all american girl next door!!! Your a fan of abandon, too?!?!!? Those songs are beast and i hate how they compare to Killers since their religious views are totally different!

  4. The all america girl-next-door!!! -  October 4, 2010 - 9:55 am

    nevermind they just re-appeared

  5. Guest -  October 4, 2010 - 6:22 am

    Jahvid Best was forced out because he plays for one of the worst NFL franchises. Go Jets!!

  6. DN -  October 4, 2010 - 6:16 am

    A baseball player I know has had to have surgery this season because of turf toe. Too sad!

  7. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  October 4, 2010 - 6:01 am

    There he goes, a hero, the savior to the world, there he stands with scars on his hand. I love that song!!!!!!!!! It’s called hero and i can’t get it outta my head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. The all american girl-next-door!!! -  October 4, 2010 - 5:56 am

    Wow!!! Thanks for the knowlegde which I will never use in my life time ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. so meaningless -  October 4, 2010 - 4:02 am

    Calf means a baby cow as well as a part of a leg.

  10. ms.karma -  October 3, 2010 - 11:06 pm

    anything interesting than a metatarsalphalangeal thing? zzzzzzzz

  11. jdblms -  October 3, 2010 - 7:06 pm

    Overall a detailed explanation, but no reference is made to which way the toe is bending when this injury occurs. Up toward the top of the foot or down toward the sole of the foot?

  12. Olivia -  October 3, 2010 - 6:05 pm

    You did not explain “death toe”, would you please?

  13. ♫MusicLover♫ -  October 3, 2010 - 4:43 pm

    Sorry…typo :)

  14. ♫MusicLover♫ -  October 3, 2010 - 4:43 pm

    So many big words for wbat I’d call a messed up toe…

  15. FOOTBALL | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  October 3, 2010 - 2:44 pm

    [...] gotta foot. — Ya gotta Ball. — Ones more fun than the other. — “Death Toe” tops them all. — Metatarsalphalangeal joint sprain,” is way too much to say. — Once [...]

  16. k9 -  October 3, 2010 - 11:14 am

    ouch. hope it doesn’t happen to soccer players.


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