Abductor Hallucis

The abductor hallucis is a superficial muscle on the medial aspect of your foot. It is a thick muscle, relative to the area of the body it inhabits. This muscle plays a vital role in balance and postural support, as it stabilizes the medial arch of the foot. You have two of these muscles, one in each foot.

Identifying the Abductor Hallucis (Biel, 2005)



Image by The Free Dictionary

  • Origin: This muscle attaches firstly at the plantar surface of the calcaneus
  • Insertion: The other attachment for the abductor hallucis is the medial side of the proximal phalange of the first toe, and the medial sesamoid bone
  • Action: The abductor hallucis is responsible for the abduction of the metatarsophalangeal joint (where your big toe meets your foot), and to assist in the flexion of the metatarsophalangeal joint.
  • Innervation: The abductor hallucis is innervated by the medial plantar nerve, a division of the tibial nerve.


Causes of Injury of Tightness in the Abductor Hallucis (Kerkar, 2016)

  • Running on uneven surfaces or terrain
  • Wearing shoes that are too small
  • Wearing high heels often
  • A previous injury that has weakened the muscles around the ankle


Symptoms of Injury or Tightness in the Abdutor Hallucis (Kerkar, 2016)

  • Pain on the medial aspect of the heel of the foot
  • Pain on the medial ankle
  • Postural deviances resulting in a distinct limp


Trigger Point Referral Pattern the Abductor Hallucis



Image by The Australasian Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine

  • Medial heel
  • Medial border of foot


Relieving Pain and Tightness in the Abductor Hallucis

  • Ice
  • NSAIDs
  • Taping
  • Switching to proper footwear
  • Stretches
  • Massage therapy



Abduct – To move away from the center of the body.

Anterior – Front side of something.

Flex – Bending a joint, decreasing the angle between the bones of the joint.

Insertion – The insertion of a muscle is the point at which the muscle attaches to a bone that is moved by that muscle. This point will be more distal (away from the core of the body) than the origin.

Medial – Toward the center.

Origin – A muscle’s origin is the point at which the muscle attaches to a fixed, proximal (close to the core of the body) bone.

Proximal – Near the center of the body.

Trigger Point – An area of hyperactive tissue that sends excessive pain signals to the spine, which generally “confuses” the brain as to where the pain is coming from.


Please take note that none of the information in this article is meant to diagnose or treat any pathology. Please follow the advice of your primary care physician.



Biel, A., 2005. Trail Guide to the Body, Third Edition. Book of Discovery, Boulder, CO. Pp.378

Kerkar, P. Abductor Hallucis Strain: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment-Cold Therapy, Taping, Insoles. [Internet]. [Updated 2016 May 5]. Pain Assist Inc, Tampa, Florida 33615. [Accessed 2017 Apr 9]. Available from: https://www.epainassist.com/sports-injuries/foot-and-heel-injuries/abductor-hallucis-strain

Winer, J. Trigger Point Therapy – Superficial Muscles of the Foot. [Internet]. [Updated 2016 Sep 25]. Niel Asher Continued Education for Manual Therapies. [Accessed 2017 Apr 9]. Available from: https://www.nielasher.com/blogs/video-blog/113671365-trigger-point-therapy-treating-foot-pain


About Tonya Sapiel, LMT

My goal with The Wellness Seeker blog is to educate the general public on the benefits of massage therapy, why it is an important addition to their health care routine, and what they can do to help themselves in between their massage therapy sessions. I welcome feedback and questions. I also accept requests for post topics. For more information about me or my practice, please visit www.tonyasapiel.massagetherapy.com

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