Your healthcare provider may recommend exercises to help you heal. Talk to your healthcare provider or physical therapist about which exercises will best help you and how to do them correctly and safely.
You may start exercising the muscles of your foot right away by gently stretching and strengthening them.
Frozen can roll: Roll your bare injured foot back and forth from your heel to your mid-arch over a frozen juice can. Repeat for 3 to 5 minutes. This exercise is particularly helpful if it is done first thing in the morning.
Towel stretch: Sit on a hard surface with your injured leg stretched out in front of you. Loop a towel around your toes and the ball of your foot and pull the towel toward your body keeping your leg straight. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat 3 times.
Standing calf stretch: Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about eye level. Keep your injured leg back with your heel on the floor. Keep the other leg forward with the knee bent. Turn your back foot slightly inward (as if you were pigeon-toed). Slowly lean into the wall until you feel a stretch in the back of your calf. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat 3 times. Do this exercise several times each day.
Seated plantar fascia stretch: Sit in a chair and cross the injured foot over the knee of your other leg. Place your fingers over the base of your toes and pull them back toward your shin until you feel a comfortable stretch in the arch of your foot. Hold 15 seconds and repeat 3 times.
Plantar fascia massage: Sit in a chair and cross the injured foot over the knee of your other leg. Place your fingers over the base of the toes of your injured foot and pull your toes toward your shin until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot. With your other hand, massage the bottom of your foot, moving from the heel toward your toes. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes. Start gently. Press harder on the bottom of your foot as you become able to tolerate more pressure.
When you can stand comfortably on your injured foot, you can begin standing to stretch the plantar fascia at the bottom of your foot.
Achilles stretch: Stand with the ball of one foot on a stair. Reach for the step below with your heel until you feel a stretch in the arch of your foot. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and then relax. Repeat 3 times.
Balance and reach exercises: Stand next to a chair with your injured leg farther from the chair. The chair will provide support if you need it. Stand on the foot of your injured leg and bend your knee slightly.
With the hand that is farther away from the chair, reach forward in front of you by bending at the waist. Avoid bending your knee any more as you do this. Repeat this 15 times. To make the exercise more challenging, reach farther in front of you. Do 2 sets of 15.
Reach the hand that is farther away from the chair across your body toward the chair. The farther you reach, the more challenging the exercise. Do 2 sets of 15.
Towel pickup: With your heel on the ground, pick up a towel with your toes. Release. Do 3 sets of 20. When this gets easy, add more resistance by placing a book or small weight on the towel.
Resisted ankle plantar flexion: Sit with your injured leg stretched out in front of you. Loop the tubing around the ball of your foot. Hold the ends of the tubing with both hands. Gently press the ball of your foot down and point your toes, stretching the tubing. Return to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15.
Resisted ankle dorsiflexion: Tie a knot in one end of the elastic tubing and shut the knot in a door. Tie a loop in the other end of the tubing and put the foot on your injured side through the loop so that the tubing goes around the top of the foot. Sit facing the door with your injured leg straight out in front of you. Move away from the door until there is tension in the tubing. Keeping your leg straight, pull the top of your foot toward your body, stretching the tubing. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15.
Heel raise: Stand behind a chair or counter with both feet flat on the floor. Using the chair or counter as a support, rise up onto your toes and hold for 5 seconds. Then slowly lower yourself down without holding onto the support. (It’s OK to keep holding onto the support if you need to.) When this exercise becomes less painful, try doing this exercise while you are standing on the injured leg only. Repeat 15 times. Do 2 sets of 15. Rest 30 seconds between sets.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2015-02-03 Last reviewed: 2014-05-22
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Arch Pain Exercises: References
Hashimoto T, Sakuraba K. Strength training for the intrinsic flexor muscles of the foot: effects on muscle strength, the foot arch, and dynamic parameters before and after the training. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014 Mar;26(3):373-6.
Mulford D, Taggart HM, Nivens A, Payrie C. Arch support use for improving balance and reducing pain in older adults. Appl Nurs Res. 2008 Aug;21(3):153-8.