Stretch and flex: simple exercises for stronger, healthier feet

Your feet work hard every day, so you may think that if you are fit and active, your feet get all the exercise they need.

Foot exercises for healthy feet

Regular exercises for healthy feet can help improve the foot’s flexibility and build muscle strength for support. Exercises can also increase your range of mobility in your feet, enabling you to stay active for longer, particularly important for seniors. Foot, toe and ankle exercises can also benefit those with joint conditions such as arthritis and plantar fasciitis.

Anywhere, anytime (almost)

Most foot exercises are easy to do and can be done almost anywhere, and at any time. As with any changes in exercise routines, if you have any history of issues with your feet, please consult your physician or foot care specialist to check that feet exercises are suitable for you.

The team at Hunt Footcare are always happy to advise on better foot health – just call us and make an appointment.

Sitting feet exercises

These are simple yet effective exercises you can do sitting at a desk, on the sofa, on a plane, or any location where you can sit and take your shoes off!

Toe flexes

When sitting on a chair, place your feet flat on the floor. Keep your toes on the floor and raise your heels until only the balls of your feet touch the floor. Hold this for 5 seconds and then lower your heels. You can take this to a more advanced level by raising the heels until u-only the tips of your big and second toe touch the floor.

Big toe stretch

The more range of movement you have in your big toe, the better. Sit on a chair and place your left foot on your right knee. Using your fingers, stretch your big toe upwards, downwards and gently to the side. Hold your big toe for five seconds in each position. Repeat 5 times, and swap feet.

Toe splays

This exercise helps you become more aware of all your toes and increases their flexibility. The action may feel rather odd to begin with, but many top athletes and runners purposely splay their feet in training for better performance.

Sitting on your chair, place your feet on the floor and spread your toes apart as part as you can. Most people find it easier to spread both feet at once. Hold for 5 seconds and relax. Don’t pull your toes apart with your hand, just see what you can achieve naturally. Some people imagine they are trying to play the piano with their toes to get the action.

Runner’s World magazine suggest this toega (yoga for the feet!) version:

Toe squish and splay: bunch all your toes together. Then attempt to splay your toes as widely as possible, driving your big toe into the ground. Hold the position for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.”

Toe dexterity

We are always amazed at the ability of artists and sports professionals who use their feet instead of their hands, including:

Key to their amazing achievements is the ability to move their toes independently. If you wish to improve your toe dexterity, try these exercises. Again, you can do all these sitting down.

Toe curls

Place a small towel flat on the floor in front of your chair. Using your toes, scrunch up the towel using your toes only. If the towel slides about too much, weigh it down at the far end. A more advanced exercise is to pick up small objects such as marbles from the floor and place them in a bowl. This version will also help strengthen the muscles on the underside of your feet.

Building muscles on the beach

Walking barefoot on a sandy beach is one of the best exercises for stretching your feet and calf muscles. Sand also shifts with your weight, so it also helps your balance and gait. If you normally wear orthotics in your shoes, sand walking will help support your feet, but will be more tiring, so start with short walks to begin with.

Warm-up feet stretches before exercising

When you do your warm-up stretches before running, playing hockey or any sport, remember to include your feet in your warm-up routine. Try these specific feet warm-up exercise ideas from Harvard Medical School.

Sore feet, heel pain or toenail issues?

Contact us for an appointment at one of our three Ontario footcare clinics:


Published On: July 31, 2023