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What is the Abductor Hallucis?

By Alex Terris
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The abductor hallucis is a muscle located in the foot that runs along the arch on the medial side. Primarily it is used to flex the big toe while its secondary purpose is to help support the arch in the foot. It’s not uncommon for the muscle to become injured although abductor hallucis pain is more common amongst people who over-pronate.

The abductor hallucis muscle originates at the heel bone and attaches at the big toe. It therefore has an important role to play in the structure and stability of the foot. For this reason, it’s an essential muscle for many daily activities. If the foot over-pronates — which basically means the foot is flat or its arch isn't maintaining its proper height — can not only cause foot pain but also problems further up the kinetic chain such as in the knees or hips.

The abductor hallucis is connected to the body’s nervous system via the medial plantar nerve. The fibers of the muscle all lead to a tendon that is inserted into the big toe. This tendon works in tandem with the tendon running from the hallucis brevis in order to flex and control the movement of the toe. It sits next to the oblique and transverse heads, two muscles that aid in the movement of the other toes on the foot.

An abductor hallucis strain is usually a relatively straightforward injury to solve as long as basic treatment is applied. A common recommendation is simply rest, ice, compression and elevation. Some of the symptoms of an abductor hallucis injury include pain along the location of the muscle and tenderness of the tendon which attaches to the muscle. To begin with comparative rest can be used to allow the injury to settle although more advanced treatment may be required if that doesn’t solve the problem.

Taping the foot, for example, is commonly used to treat injuries which are partly caused by over-pronation, which causes the foot to rotate and can put excess stress on areas of the foot or body. The tape supports the foot and takes pressure off the muscles which gives it a greater chance of healing quickly.

Icing the muscle is also effective at reducing swelling. In some cases, sports massage may be required in order to break down any scar tissue that may remain from the injury. Other treatments which are sometimes used to treat abductor hallucis injuries include ultrasound therapy, electrotherapy, anti-inflammatory medicine and rehabilitation exercises.

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Discussion Comments

By CellMania — On Oct 28, 2011

@dinoleash- I've had the same kind of injury. After my first foot injury several years ago, it seems as though I trip myself up all the time now. I had a strain of the abductor hallucis muscle. I also had to go to physical therapy. They used ice treatment for a couple of weeks and it was the most simple but yet effective way of using ice I had ever seen.

They take small styrofoam cups and fill them with water. They then place them in a freezer until they are solid. They cut the top half of the cup off. They then use the bottom half of the cup to hold on to and the ice is formed to the shape of the cup. They take the molded ice and rub the injured area with it for about 15 minutes. I started using this method at home and it works great.

By DinoLeash — On Oct 27, 2011

I had never heard of the "abductor hallucis" until I started playing soccer. I had an injury on the field and the sports trainer came out and told me that I had a foot sprain. He taped my foot up and I went home. I took ibuprofen and the pain was getting worse so I ended up in the emergency room.

The doctor told me that I had a muscle strain; specifically the abductor hallucis. I had to go to physical therapy for three weeks and they did electrode therapy. It was sore for a while but I was able to get back on the field in six weeks.

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