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What Is the Extensor Hallucis Longus?

Toe raises and other foot exercises can help strengthen the extensor hallicus longus.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
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  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2014
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The extensor hallucis longus is a muscle that is located in the foot that assists with a specific type of movement, known as inversion. This muscle actually begins near the fibula and extends downward into the foot. In addition to allowing the foot to be turned inward, some of the other specific functions of the muscle are to help in the extension of the big toe as well as to allow the foot to move in such a direction as to have the toes pointing toward the leg.

There is only one muscle in the human body that is able to pull back, or extend, the big toe. This muscle is the extensor hallucis longus and it begins along the innermost surface of the front part of the fibula. The fibula is also popularly referred to as the calf bone. The muscle travels downward from the fibula into the foot, finally reaching its end at the big toe.

Dorsiflexion is the term given when this muscle causes the foot to move in an upward direction. Inversion is when the foot is moved in an inward, sideways direction. Besides extending the big toe, both dorsiflexion and inversion are made possible by the extensor hallucis longus.

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The nerve supply to the muscle is provided by the peroneal nerve. This nerve is also known as the fibular nerve and it extends from the lower portion of the leg into the foot. It also provides the nerve supply to each of the toes.

Each of the movements made possible by the use of the extensor hallucis longus is important. However, one particular function of this muscle is most noticeable, as it aids in ambulation, or the ability to walk. This function is most important when walking up any type of step, particularly groups of stairs. The muscle allows the big toe to move in an upward direction in such a way that the foot is able to clear each individual stair during climbing.

Exercises such as toe raises are often beneficial in strengthening the extensor hallucis longus muscle. Shin stretches are also used to aid in its movement. When this muscle becomes weak, or if the surrounding tendons become injured or inflamed, medical attention is often required. A medical professional who specializes in sports medicine is often the best equipped to treat these specific types of injuries.

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anon326272
Post 5

I'm pretty sure I injured my extenson hacillus longus as I am unable to point my toes down (like a ballerina). It feels like electricity coming up my feet every time I stretch my foot forward or point my toe up. think my injury is due to overuse without the proper shoes. Does anyone know how long does it take to heal, or of any exercises I could do to make it heal faster?

wavy58
Post 4

I guess I keep my extensor hallucis longus pretty busy. I am always catching myself tapping my feet to music, and every time I lift one up off the ground, this muscle is in action.

It's one of those things that you do without realizing most of the time. In my office, music is always playing over the speakers, and I have to move to it in some small way. My feet are the least noticeable part of me, because they can respond to it while under the desk.

I probably have a pretty well developed extensor hallucis longus. Seriously, sometimes I feel like I'm playing drums down there!

lighth0se33
Post 3

I probably use my extensor hallucis longus more than most people, because I always catch myself turning my foot inward. Often, if I have to stand for a long period of time, I eventually notice that toes are pointed toward each other.

I have no idea why I do this. I must be built differently. It is way more comfortable for me to turn my foot that way than to point it outward.

Also, while sitting at my desk, I notice that I have my heels perched on the wheels of my chair and my feet pointing upward. I like feeling the flexion in my calves from this, and it's a subconscious stretch that I do.

orangey03
Post 2

@OeKc05 – An extensor hallucis longus injury makes you appreciate the ability to move that toe. I never thought about this until I hurt my foot badly, and after that, it stayed on my mind quite a bit.

I was carrying a tire from my car to my husband's shed, and I dropped it right on top of my bare foot. The pain was so intense that I fell to my knees. A dark bruise developed in a few hours, and that area stayed sore for many months.

During my recovery period, I could not move my big toe without causing pain all the way through my foot. Climbing stairs suddenly became difficult, and I kept stubbing my toe on things that I normally wouldn't.

OeKc05
Post 1

While reading this article, I couldn't resist the urge to extend my big toe and feel the muscle flex. I could feel it all the way through my foot up into my leg!

I have never noticed before that moving my big toe involves the foot. It's one of those things you just don't think about until someone points it out to you, and then it seems amazing.

If you injured your foot, would you be unable to move your big toe? It stands to reason, since this muscle goes travels through the area.

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