What to Do About Yoga, Sprinting and Hallux Limitus Toe Pain

Sit back, get comfortable, and let’s talk toes!

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I haven’t had a lot of problems with my hallux limitus recently because I don’t run as often as I used to. Interestingly (that is, if you find toes at all compelling), my left toe joint doesn’t bother me when I run sprints, whereas steady-state running causes it to get red, bulbous and angry like Trump after too much time in the tanning bed. So, if you’re someone who runs on occasion and has a hallux limitus problem, try doing sprints with walking intervals. Sprints are better for fat loss, too.

Quick side note…here’s my favorite sprint workout:

  • sprint 20 seconds, walk until your heart rate comes down
  • sprint 30 seconds, walk until your heart rate comes down
  • sprint 40 seconds, walk until your heart rate comes down
  • sprint 60 seconds, walk until your heart rate comes down
  • repeat until you reach 20 minutes (I aim for four rounds, but usually get 3 or 3.5)

In addition to sprinting and lifting weights, my husband and I recently started a beginner Vinyasa yoga course at a local studio. I am really enjoying it, but my hallux limitus toe…not so much.

Luckily, the instructor is awesome and showed me some ways to work around the annoying hallux limitus I have going on in my left big toe. Here are a couple of the poses that were bothering it, and how I am adapting the poses:

4 Limb Staff Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana)

This pose is similar to a plank, except you are down in the low portion of a push-up with your elbows close to your torso. Obviously, your feet seem like they would be flexed with your toes supporting some of your weight. As it turns out, though, you should actually be on the tip of your toes–like a ballerina.

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I know that seems difficult and super ouchie (technical mom term), but it is actually better for my lame, inflexible toe joint. Most of your weight, I learned, is supposed to be supported by your core and upper body. Your toes are really only involved for stabilization purposes.

Hallux limitus and yoga
4 Limb Staff pose on the tips of my freakish, big toes.

I know being on the tips of your toes sounds hard, but if you focus on supporting yourself with your core and upper body, you will discover that being on the ends of your toes is actually just fine. Just make sure your nails are trimmed if you’re one of those people who likes long toenails. Also, ew. No.

Crescent Lunge (Anjaneyasana) and Variations

Toey doesn’t likey. (I watch too many David Spade movies.) I figured this pose would be a problem because I have issues in other workouts when doing lunges and switch jumps. In the Crescent Lunge and also the Revolved Crescent Lunge (plus other variations I have yet to learn, I’m sure), the foot is flexed with the heel and the ball of the foot in line in a vertical position. Basically, the heel should be pointed up toward the ceiling.

Yoga and Hallux Limitus
How the back heel should look. (If you have a normal toe, you will have more flex at the ball of the foot and you won’t have your right knee tracking past your ankle–I simply can’t do it because of the toe joint).

But my yoga instructor said that with my hallux limitus, my left heel will have to be pointed back and my foot will be more at an angle than up and down like it should be. And he said that’s totally okay.

Hallux limitus and yoga
How I have to do the pose with the hallux limitus in my big left toe. Notice my left heel pointing back instead of up. But my right knee is in line with my ankle and I’m sitting into the pose better.

He emphasized that we are all built different and we need to accommodate our body’s structural differences.

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It has been my experience, so far, that even though my hallux limitus flares up a little bit after yoga, it is nowhere near as painful as after something like a half or full marathon. And because I have some other health issues that are keeping me from running very long distances these days, I don’t have to worry about it as much.

Buuuuut, if you insist on distance running, read my post on self-treatment options for runners with hallux limitus.

This has been Toe Talk with Kerrie. Good night and good luck toe you. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

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7 Tricks for Running a Magical 5K

7 Tricks for Running a Magical 5K

I have shocking news, you guys. Are you sitting down?

Well, stand up.

My husband has been running…and he is training for a 5K…race.

For those of you who might not know, my husband has lost more than 60 pounds since this time last year by walking and by eating well. But he got to a point this winter where he wanted to challenge himself and he started running using the Couch to 5K program.

And then he asked me to sign him up for a race. After I picked myself up off of the floor, I registered us for the Kirkland Shamrock Run 5K on March 11. (Psst: You can use my code MOMVSMARATHON to save 10% on this race.)

All this 5K talk has inspired me and now I want to train for a fast 5K again. Running a fast 5K is like magic. When it’s over, you’re not sure what happened, but you enjoyed the hell out of it.

Last time I did that was in 2014 at the See Jane Run 5K with my friend Kim. We both killed it and came in 2nd in our age groups. It wasn’t a PR, though. I think my PR is still 23:45 from the St. Paddy’s Day 5K in Tacoma in 2012. I’m not entirely sure because I don’t care enough to look it up.

See Jane Run 5K Race Recap 2014
Me and Kim at See Jane Run in 2014.

I can beat that, though, right? That course had a huge hill at the end that was like a half a mile long. I mean, I’ll be 40 in September, so maybe I should try to crush it in my 35-39 age group one more time.

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For this, I will have to call on my old “tricks,” to help me slay in a fast 5K either later this spring or this summer.

What are my tricks, you ask? Or maybe you didn’t ask, but I’m sharing them anyway.

Give myself time. If I really want to dominate in the 5K, I need to pick one that is far enough away that will allow me to get it right. I have to give myself adequate time to get lean and strong (see below), and then start my run training. In my experience, doing one thing at a time works best for me.

Get lean and strong. I am already doing this, as some of you may know. I work on strength 3-4 times/week. My favorite workouts are from Metabolic Effect and JillFit. The No. 1 factor in my ability to get stronger and stay on the leaner side is consistency. It’s my experience that one will not see resulst by working on strength one day a week. Ya need at least 3 days and ya need a plan or workouts that progress. I also recommend using heavy weights. The other part of the equation is eating well for leanness. That means lots of protein and fiber (fiber is vegetables, guys), and the right amount of carbs/starch for your body.

Run. This is crucial. I need to start doing this.

Find a training plan. Who has time to run every damn day? Not me. I have learned over the years to be realistic when I choose a training plan. Also, I’ve never had luck with free plans on the Internet (with the exception of Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk marathon training). The plan I’ve used twice to get/go after 5K PRs is from Run Less Run Faster by Bill Piece, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss. I love this book because it is tailored to my current running fitness. It forces me to be realistic. It focuses on speed. And I only have to run 3 days a week. I like to run, but not as much as I used to. I’ve read and tried MAAAAAANNNNNY running books, and this is my favorite for the 5K and half marathon distances.

Warm up on the day of the race. I think Kim was hating me in 2014 when I made her warm up, but I have to. I cannot run fast on cold legs even if it’s hot out. You’ve all done long training runs, right? Isn’t it like Mile 3 where you finally start to feel good? Well, a 5K isn’t long enough for that. I don’t have time! I have to do some running and stretching before the race. Allow time for that. Leg swings, squats and lunges, and light jogging with fartleks thrown in is how I do it.

Stay focused during the race. I use an old tactic I learned on the cross country team in high school. I focus on a back and then I aim to pass it. Then I pick another back. If there are not backs, I pick a landmark and try to get by it as fast as possible. I know music is controversial, but I use it. There are certain songs that make me feel like I can fly. If music helps you, use it. This isn’t the Olympics, people.

Think of a 5K as a sprint. If you don’t want to puke at the end, you’re not doing it right.

Go forth and slay.