Functional Hallux limitus refers to a perfectly normal 1st Joint that is not allowed to work like it should.
This happens for a variety of reasons and often a combination of them.
Tight calf muscles, are the most common feature I see with all my patients… I suspect that this has to do with our lifestyles. We sit, we drive, we commute and we have desk bound jobs and we wear heels. All of which encourage tightening of the calves. Its the old use it or lose it saying, when the muscle is in a slack position it shortens and loses its flexibility.
The consequence of this is to force compensation. This compensation occurs in a variety of ways. The most common of which is to make the foot pronate more.
When excess pronation occurs, the arch sags leading to the flexor tendons to take strain and the arch not to function as it should. So at the point of toe off, arch fails to re-establish leading to a big toe joint that no longer works life it should.
It also leads to peak pressures inder the 2nd 3rd metatarsal heads as the 1st Met rises reducing it pressure. Callus formation then occurs in these areas.
So the focus of treatment for this is to imporove flexibility with targeted streching, supoposr tthe arch, and allow the 1st Met to flex and function as it should.