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Best Foot Exercises for Plantar Fasciitis, Bunion Pain, Foot Pain & Prevention

Foot pain from plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammertoes and others can wreak havoc on your daily routine and activities. Our team of foot pain relief experts have put together the top 10 foot exercises everyone should do for foot pain relief, foot pain treatment and even just for daily foot care.

Regularly exercising and stretching the feet and ankles can help ensure that the muscles are providing the best support. These exercises may also increase range of motion in the feet, helping keep a person active for as long as possible. A few of these simple foot stretches can reduce tension in the foot and calf. This offers both rapid pain relief and a steady improvement of symptoms over time.

Most of the foot exercises below are simple and require no complicated equipment to perform. People can do them at home or in the gym as part of a regular exercise routine. So now there shouldn’t be any excuse to live with foot pain on a daily basis.

1. Stretching the calf

Muscle tightness in the feet and calves can make the foot pain from plantar fasciitis and other foot ailments worse. Loosening the calf muscles can relieve the pain. Try the following plantar fasciitis stretches:

    • Plantar Fasciitis Stretch - Calf Stretch
      Lean your hands against a wall
    • Straighten the knee of the affected leg and bend the other knee in front
    • Keep both feet flat on the ground
    • There should be a stretching sensation in the heel and calf of the extended leg
    • Hold for 10 seconds
    • Repeat two to three times

    2. Stretching the plantar fascia

    To relieve muscle tightness in the plantar fascia or bottom of the foot, we recommend trying the following plantar fasciitis exercise:

    • Sitting on a chair, cross the injured heel over the other leg
    • Hold the foot in your opposite hand
    • Pull the toes toward the shin to create tension in the arch of the foot
    • Place the other hand on the bottom of the foot to feel for tension in the plantar fascia
    • Use a towel to grasp and stretch the foot if it is difficult to hold otherwise
    • Hold for 10 seconds
    • Repeat two to three times

    3. Foot flexes

    The strength within your foot is important for relieving and preventing foot pain. Flexing the foot increases blood flow to the area and relieves tension in the calves, which can help with foot pain. This exercise uses an elastic stretch band, which people can buy from sports stores or online. To perform this foot exercise use the following steps:

    • Plantar Fasciitis Exercise - Foot Flexes
      Sit on the floor with legs straight
    • Wrap the elastic band around your foot, holding the ends in your hands
    • Gently point the toes away from the body
    • Slowly return to starting position
    • Repeat 10 times

    4. Towel curls

    Curling a hand towel or facecloth with the toes can stretch the foot and calf muscles. Try doing these stretches before walking or doing any other morning tasks. To perform this foot exercise take the following steps:

    • Sit on a chair with both feet flat and a small towel in front of the feet
    • Grasp the center of the towel with your toes
    • Curl the towel towards you
    • Relax the foot and repeat five times

    5. Marble pickups

    Foot Exercise - Marble Grab

    This is another great exercise to help strengthen your foot. The stronger your foot the less likely you are to experience foot pain. In this toe exercise, you will be picking up a marble with the toes which will flex and stretch the foot muscles. Use the following steps:

    • Sit on a chair with knees bent and feet flat on the floor
    • Place 20 marbles and a bowl at your feet
    • Pick up one marble at a time by curling your toes, and place the marble into the bowl
    • Repeat 20 times

    6. Tennis Ball Roll

    For this exercise, you’ll need a tennis ball or another small ball of similar size. If you don’t have a ball handy, you can use a water bottle or other cylindrical object instead. Take the following steps to perform this foot exercise:

    • Sit in a chair and place the ball under your affected foot.
    • Roll the ball back and forth under the arch of your foot so that you can stretch out the plantar fascia ligament making this a great plantar fasciitis stretch.
    • Continue rolling for three to five minutes. You can do this stretch twice a day.

    7. Toe Extension

    The toe extension is one of the easiest stretches for plantar fasciitis, foot mobility and overall bottom of the foot pain. Since you can do it anywhere at any time it is extremely easy. To perform this exercise to relieve foot pain:

    • Foot Exercise Toe Extension
      Sit on the floor or on a chair with the affected leg crossed over the unaffected leg.
    • Hold your toes with your fingers of one hand and bend your toes and ankle up as far as you can. You want to feel a stretch in your calf and the arch of your foot.
    • Use your free hand to massage the arch of your foot.
    • Hold this for 10 seconds and then relax. Continue this pattern for two or three minutes, two to four times a day.

    8. Seated foot and heel raise

    This exercise is another great one that can be done anywhere. It helps provide that flexibility in the foot while also strengthening. To perform this foot exercise:

    • Begin with your feet flat on the floor.
    • Raise both heels off the floor and hold for a few seconds before placing your heels back on the floor.
    • Then raise your toes off the floor and hold for a few seconds before returning them to the floor. 
    • Repeat 5 times.

    9. Toe splay

    Foot Exercise Toe Splay

    This movement will help you gain control over your toe muscles. To perform this foot exercise:

    • Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet gently resting on the floor.
    • Spread all your toes apart as far as comfortable. Hold for five seconds.
    • Repeat 10 times.

    You can make this exercise harder by looping a rubber band around the toes of each foot.

    10. Toe raise, point, and curl

    This three-part exercise will start to get your toes and feet moving. This can help with foot flexibility while strengthening at the same time. To get started with this exercise:

    • Foot Exercise Toe Curl
      Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet flat on the floor.
    • Keep your toes flat on the ground and raise your heels until only the balls of your feet and toes touch the ground. Hold for five seconds.
    • Point your toes so that only the ends of your big and second toes touch the ground. Hold for five seconds.
    • Keep your heel off the ground and roll your toes under so that the tops of your toes touch the ground. Hold for five seconds.
    • Repeat each position 10 times.

      An activity to add to your foot care routine could be a daily walk on a beach. As we head into warmer months this can be the perfect time to add this one to the list. Walking barefoot on sand is a great way to stretch and strengthen the feet and calves. This is a good exercise in general because sand’s soft texture makes walking more physically demanding.

      Foot Exercise Sand Walking

      All you need for this is a beach or volleyball court or sandy area. Kick off those shoes and socks. Then start walking for as long as possible. Try increasing the distance slowly over time to avoid overexerting the muscles in the feet and calves.

      We hope these top 10 foot exercises will help you prevent foot pain while also regain mobility and strengthening those feet. Doing all of these every day would be the perfect way to do that, but the best thing to do is start with a few of these added to your daily routine then add one of two of these each week. Before you know it you will be doing all of these.

      Many of these exercises and stretches are also great for those athletes and runners out there that are experiencing foot pain or a foot injury from those activities. Runner’s World has put together a list of their 3 essential foot exercises that strengthen your feet for running that we recommend you check out.

      If these exercises seem like too much work, you can always try out a pair of our foot alignment socks to stretch your feet, align those toes and provide some much needed foot pain relief. Then kick up your feet and let My Happy Feet socks do some of these exercises for you.


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