If You Lose Your Big Toe How Will This Affect Weightlifting?

The thought of it seems horrifying because your big toe is crucial to balance & stability.

I can’t imagine doing deadlifts or squats without a big toe. But most benchwork should be largely unaffected.

What do you all think & have you or anyone you know been through anything similar?

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I think your body will adapt. I’m not saying it would be easy, but possible. There are people out there lifting missing much more than a toe.


Doug Hepburn managed to be insanely big and strong with a club foot.

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The bigger question: What caused the loss of your toe?

I still have my big toes, so I’m not speaking from personal experience, but I can’t imagine it would make a noticable difference. Your weight shouldn’t be on your toes during those movements anyway.

This is a fascinating question here. Feet are so important that it is a great question. I studied the anatomy of the foot in great depth with my mentor Thomas Greiner, Ph.D., so it piques my interest! SO sorry for “geeking out” here.

In short, the foot acts like a tripod with three interlinking arches/bridges between the points, interlinking 35 joints in each foot. Those points are:

  1. Heel
  2. Base of the 5th/Pinky Toe
  3. Base of the 1st/Big Toe

Leonardo Da Vinci said of the foot that it is a masterpiece of art and engineering. And truly, IT IS. It takes gravity (your body weight and what you are trying to lift) into the ground, then delivers the energy from the ground into your body so you can squat or even lift your coffee cup in the morning. So, the form, structure, and function of each of the joints of the foot say how efficient or not you are in making movement when upright.

Okay, so geek moment over…

If the big toe is missing for static position movements like a squat or deadlift, as long as the remaining big toe joints are working - there is NO PROBLEM (usually)! I have had super strong athletes who were missing a toe or two and performed without issue. However, other normal movements, such as walking and running, incurred a lot of repetitive motion injury over time, eventually impacting the remaining joints’ performance.

To compensate for that, doing drills to keep the foot and ankle moving can go a long way to compensate and keep wear and tear down and performance high. Even if you are not missing a toe, doing this always enhances performance and strength. @Coach_Pat_Marques can elaborate on this if he wishes.

So, I hope my having some geeky fun was okay here! But more so, I hope it was helpful too.


I didn’t get from his post that he has lost his big toe. It could be inferred that he may soon lose one but even then I dunno.

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Although the weight is not fully on the big toe during those movements, there is a lot of fascial and neural connection from the big toe to posterior chain musculature. To answer the question bluntly - you would not be able to produce the same amount of force through that side. The greater effect would be on jumping, push-off/drive movement patterns, and Oly lifts than on more static powerlifting movements.

That said, creating excellent proprioception in the affected foot, and strengthening the foot, would, as @Dr_Grove_Higgins said, provide a lot of positive compensation.

This is a very rudimentary proprioception drill that incorporates many joints—one of many that could help.


I guess it may reduce your Toetal


This wins comment of the week.

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T3hPwnisherMember Coach


Doug Hepburn managed to be insanely big and strong with a club foot

The vast majority of people are not as gifted as Doug Hepburn. I’m defintely not…LOL.

I’m quoting Dick Sharpe here but I didn’t see a way to quote his post. The above post I’m responding to RT_Nomad.

Your big toe is the key to balance and stability with 40% of the weight of all toes carried by the big toe. The military disqualifies you if you’re missing any toes or fingers because it affects your performance.

You can find cases online where people lose their balance & fall without a big toe because it’s so crucial to balance & stability!

I’ve not lost my toe but I somehow got a very bad infection in my right foot. Eventhough the wound is healing well it still looks like something from the movie Cabin Fever. LOL.

My toe needs to heal properly from here on out.

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Being born with a club foot is a gift?

Good news!

My toe has healed enough so I do NOT have to amputate it!