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Exercises for the toes, feet and ankles

These exercises are beneficial for toe, foot, and ankle disorders and pain.

To avoid injury, remember to drink lots of water when exercising and leave enough of room around you.

If you’re new to exercising, it’s a good idea to start slowly and gradually increase your intensity.

Achilles tendon and plantar fascia stretch


Pull your toes towards your body while maintaining your knee straight by wrapping a towel around the ball of your foot. Hold the position for 30 seconds. On each foot, repeat three times.

Plantar fascia stretch


Sit down and place a round object, such as a tin of beans, under the arch of your foot. For a few minutes, roll your foot on the tin in various directions. This exercise should be done twice a day.

Sitting plantar fascia stretch

Sitting plantar fascia stretch

Take a seat and cross one leg over your knee. Pull your toes back towards your body until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold the position for 15-20 seconds. This should be done three times.

Wall push


STEP 1: Stand in front of a wall with both hands at shoulder height and one foot in front of the other. The distance between the front foot and the wall should be roughly 30cm (12 inches). Bend the front knee towards the wall while keeping the back knee straight until the calf in your back leg feels tight. Relax and repeat for a total of ten times.

STEP 2:  Repeat STEP 1, but this time push the back foot forward slightly, bending the back knee slightly. This should be done ten times.

Ankle range of motion


Bend your ankle as far as possible towards your torso, then point your toes away from it. This should be done ten times.

Ankle rotation


Slowly rotate your ankle in a circle. Repeat 10 times in one direction, then 10 times in the opposite direction.

Towel pickup


Place a towel on the floor in front of you and take a seat. Pick up the towel by scrunching it between your toes while keeping your heel on the ground. Rep 10–20 times more. As you get better, add a modest weight to the towel, such as a tin of beans.

Standing heel raise

Raise up on your tiptoes with your knees straight, using a counter or chair for support. Slowly return your feet to their original position. This should be done ten times.

Toe spread

Spread your toes as widely apart as possible with your feet on the floor. Hold the position for five seconds. Rep this exercise ten times more.

Alphabet writing


Write the alphabet in the air with your big toe while seated, just moving your ankle. At least twice a day, try to write the entire alphabet.

Ankle out


Make a loop out of an elastic exercise band and secure it in place with the leg of a table or chair, or your other foot. Put one foot into the loop. Turn your toes outwards against the resistance of the band while keeping your heel on the ground. Slowly return your foot to its former position. Build up to executing the set three times a day and repeating it ten times.

Basic balance

Balance on one foot while using a steady object for support, such as a kitchen counter. Increase the time you spend doing this, aiming for one minute. Try to complete the set three times and twice a day.

Take advantage of all opportunities to practise standing on one leg; including it into your everyday routine will aid your progress.

When you’ve mastered this fundamental balance exercise, make it more difficult by standing on a cushion or pillow. Gradually increase the quantity you do.

Return to standing on the floor and repeat the fundamental balance exercise with your eyes closed once you can comfortably balance on a pillow and you’re feeling confident.

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