Functional hallux limitus: a review

J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2009 May-Jun;99(3):236-43. doi: 10.7547/0980236.


Functional hallux limitus is defined as a functional inability of the proximal phalanx of the hallux to extend on the first metatarsal head during gait. The theory concerning this anomaly and the altered gait characteristics that may result appears to have influenced the understanding of sagittal plane podiatric biomechanics. Although there is an increase in the body of evidence to support the proposed gait alterations, a detailed review suggests the need for further work. The aim of this article is to review the functional hallux limitus literature and its reported effects on gait. Furthermore, we explore some of the key and inherent problems with obtaining accurate data for joint motion measurement in the foot. With evidence-based practice now at the forefront of both clinical and academic practice, it is imperative to review the literature that underpins a particular commonly held or historical belief, in order to substantiate and validate subsequent diagnoses and treatments provided in light of this information. This is also true to advance the understanding of a particular anomaly or pathology and to inform so as to facilitate the provision of better care to patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Foot / physiopathology*
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Hallux Limitus / diagnosis
  • Hallux Limitus / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Tarsal Joints / physiopathology*