Abductor Hallucis and Adductor Hallucis–Your Key to Permanently Get Rid of Foot Pain

abductor hallucis adductor hallucis

In this post:  If you are suffering from bunion pain, I have good news for you–when you stretch and strengthen your abductor hallucis and adductor hallucis, it is completely possible for you to permanently get rid of your bunion!

Anyone who has ever had a bunion can tell you about the horrible pain that a dysfunctional abductor hallucis and adductor hallucis can cause. When these two muscles are out of balance, the pull on the big toe can create a bunion and a world of pain. Read below to learn about these important muscles and the simple stretches to keep them healthy.

Where Is the Abductor Hallucis?

abductor hallucis, adductor hallucis
Thanks to eraofknowledge.blogspot.com for the image.

The abductor hallucis has three points of origin. They are on the:

  1. Middle of the lower part of your heel bone. Technically, this is called the medial process of the tuberosity of the calcaneus.
  2. Flexor retinaculum, which is a band that runs from the inside of your heel bone up to the bottom of your tibia.
  3. Plantar aponeurosis and intermuscular septum (on the bottom of your foot). This is also known as the plantar fascia and all the connective tissue in that area.

Abductor hallucis inserts with the medial tendon of the flexor hallucis brevis into the medial side of the lower of the two big toe bones. This means that it inserts on the outside of your foot right at the base of your big toe. 

Where Is the Adductor Hallucis?

The adductor hallucis is also sort of in three parts. Two spots of origin are called heads, and they look like completely separate pieces of muscle. The two heads of the adductor hallucis are:

  1. The Oblique Head—The oblique head of the adductor hallucis originates on the base of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th toes.
  2. The Transverse Head—The transverse head of the adductor hallucis originates at the juncture where the toe and foot join via ligaments to the bottom of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th toes.

Additionally, this muscle originates on deep transverse ligaments of the toes.

The adductor hallucis inserts on the lateral side of the bottom of the lower big toe joint. This means that it inserts beneath the big toe in that spot between the big toe and the second toe.

What Do the Abductor Hallucis and Adductor Hallucis Do?

Simply put, the abductor hallucis moves the big toe away from the smaller toes. The adductor hallucis moves the big toe toward the smaller toes.

What Happens When the Abductor Hallucis and Adductor Hallucis Don’t Work Correctly?

Simply put, when these muscles are out of balance, they can cause a bunion. A bunion is when the bottom part of your second big toe bone starts to press out to the side away from your other toes. That bony nub can rub on your shoes, and it can be quite painful.

The imbalance between the abductor hallucis and adductor hallucis is quite common. Many people suffer from bunions, and some are even in such pain that they have surgery in an attempt to straighten the big toe and relieve their pain.

Yet, for many people, it is 100% possible to get rid of your bunion and relieve your pain with some simple stretches.

How to Fix Your Bunion

If you think that you have injured your abductor hallucis or adductor hallucis, contact your doctor. He or she can order the appropriate imaging, therapy, and medicine necessary for your recovery.

However, if you’re wanting to keep your feet healthy or if you’re wanting to try to fix your bunion yourself, I have some ideas.

First, let me say that if you have a bunion, you should always try to fix it yourself before you schedule surgery. I’ve had great success with clients reversing their bunions by performing simple stretches. Also, my clients who have had bunion surgery still had issues with their bunions post-surgery. So, try to fix it yourself first.

3 Easy Toe Exercises to Fix Your Bunion

Here’s what to do to restore health to these important toe muscles:

1. Get a good stretch.

Use your fingers and thumb to separate your big toe from your second toe. Place your opposite hand’s thumb on the joint under the big toe and wrap some fingers around the big toe.

Push your thumb in as your fingers pull out. It is important to make sure the toes are all in the same plane here.

I’ve found that the more pronounced your bunion, the more likely the second toe is to hop over the big toe and sometimes vice versa. When you separate your big toe from your second toe, hold that stretch for a little bit and then release. Take a moment and notice how when you create that stretch, the joint beneath your big toe decreases.

Check it out! You’re getting rid of the bunion and encouraging good muscular habits in your feet.

2. Draw small circles in both directions.

Use the hand placement described in #1 and draw little circles with your big toe. Make sure the movement comes from the joint at the base of the toe, and make sure to go both directions.

3. Reach your toes apart.

Actively spreading my right toes

Place your foot flat on the ground, manually spread your toes apart, and try to keep the stretch. If you already have healthy feet, the goal is not to have monkey toes.

We want the bones on the outsides of the feet to be guides for correct big and pinkie toe placement.

More Information on the Abductor Hallucis, Adductor Hallucis, and Fixing Bunions

To learn more about bunions and their possible causes, check out my article, “Fix Your Bunion!

For those who are more interested in technical terminology and smaller muscles, I recommend Flash Anatomy Muscles Flash Cards. Any time a client comes to me with pain, I use these flash cards to help trouble-shoot the situation and figure out which exercises to do.

Thanks again to eraofknowledge.blogspot.com for the image. Here’s a link to their information about hallux valgus deformity (bunions).

If you’re interested in learning more tips and tricks to keep your body pain-free, sign up for access to my free digital library! Plus, you’ll get weekly tips to keep you happy, healthy, and pain-free.

Do you have any other suggestions for strengthening or stretching the abductor hallucis and adductor hallucis? Let us know in the comments below.

About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.