Foot Strength: 11 Best Foot Exercises + Stretches to Stay Strong and Reduce Pain

Foot Strength: 11 Best Foot Exercises + Stretches to Stay Strong and Reduce Pain


What are some of the best foot exercises and stretches you can do to help improve the flexibility and strength of your feet? What about stretches for reducing foot pain? Well, we’re about to find out thanks to another installment of the Tread & Butter Foot Health Journal


For this article, we’ve rounded up 11 of the best foot exercises, broken them down into three overlapping sections (1. Flexibility/mobility 2. Strength-building 3. Foot stretches to reduce pain), and provided simple instructions for each.


Whether you’re experiencing foot pain, recovering from a foot injury, or understand the importance of foot health and want to improve range of motion and flexibility, the following list is destined to help you build foot strength and keep your feet healthy for the long haul. For each specific foot exercise or stretch, keep in mind that we recommend 3 or more days a week, or every other day (resting your feet is also important!)     


Along with all the other useful information you’ll find inside our Foot Health Journal, we hope these easy yet essential foot health exercises help you continue your way towards optimal foot health, one step at a time (😉). And remember, depending on your needs, you may want to consult with a trusted professional before going all out with the following foot exercises. 





Foot Exercises for Flexibility + Mobility

Toe Raise, Point + Curl

Ah, the ol’ toe raise point and curl. A staple among every list of the best foot exercises for flexibility and mobility. Including this one.

The details:

Part I

  1. Sit up straight in a chair, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Keep your toes on the floor while raising your heels. When only the balls of the feet remain on the ground, stop and hold this position for at least 5 seconds before lowering your heels back down.

Part II

  1. Raise your heels and point your toes so that only the tips of your big and second toes are touching the floor. Hold for 5 seconds before lowering.

Part III

  1. Raise your heels and curl your toes inward so that only the tips of your toes are touching the floor. Hold for 5 seconds before lowering.
  2. To help build flexibility and mobility in your feet and toes, repeat each part ten times.


Toe Splay

This toe splay exercise can help improve control over your toe muscles, as well as strengthen the toe muscles themselves. For this at-home foot exercise, you can work with either one or both feet at the same time.

The details:

  1. Sit in a straight backed chair with your feet gently on the floor.
  2. Spread your toes as far apart as possible without straining. Hold for 5 seconds before releasing your toes back down to the ground.
  3. Repeat ten times.

Big-Toe Stretch (or Toe Extension)

If your toes are accustomed to being squished together for long periods of time—in tight or pointy shoes, in work boots, hiking boots, trail running shoes, or bike shoes—this is one of the best toe stretches you can get into. It’s also excellent at helping prevent and treat plantar fasciitis.

The details:

  1. Sit with your feet resting flat on the floor.
  2. Pick one foot up and place it on your opposite thigh.
  3. Gently use your fingers to stretch your big toe up, down, and towards the side away from the other toes. In each direction, gently hold the stretch for 5 seconds.
  4. Repeat ten times.
  5. Switch legs and repeat on the big toe of your other foot.

TheraBand Stretch

For this foot and heel stretch, you’ll need a TheraBand (ie: one of those stretchy exercise bands that come in primary colors according to their resistance strength—have your pick!). 

The details:

  1. Loop the exercise band around the leg of a heavy piece of furniture (a table or desk works).
  2. Sit in front of the band, slide your foot into the loop and ensure that the exercise band curls around your forefoot, just below your toes.
  3. Using your forefoot and flexing at the ankle, pull back towards you. Hold this position for several seconds, then relax. With this at-home foot exercise, you should feel a stretch along the back of your heel.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times with each foot.


foot stretching
  Stretching your feet will improve strength and help reduce injuries. Photo: Adobe

At-Home Foot Exercises for Strength

Toe Splay with Hair Elastic

We already introduced you to the “toe splay” (it’s the second foot exercise in this list), but we wanted to add this one in for good measure. The first version is more for foot flexibility and mobility, while this rendition is more about building foot strength. 

So, all you’ll need to do here is take the same toe splay exercise from above and add a hair elastic or rubber band around your toes. Doing this creates resistance, makes the exercise more challenging, and adds an element of strength-building to the equation.

Marble Pickup

This foot-strengthening exercise helps build up the muscles on the bottom of your feet and toes. Sweet!

The details:

  1. Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet flat on the floor (a carpeted floor or very even surface works best).
  2. Place twenty marbles next to a small bowl on the floor in front of you.
  3. Pick up one marble at a time with your toes and place it in the bowl. Use one foot to pick up all twenty marbles.
  4. Repeat with the other foot.

Toe Curls

This toe curl exercise helps build up the flexor muscles in your toes and feet, as well as improve overall foot strength.

The details:

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lay a small towel on the floor in front of you, with the short side facing your feet.
  3. Place the toes of one foot on the short side of the towel. 
  4. Try to grab hold of the towel between your toes and pull it towards you. 
  5. Repeat this toe curl exercise 5 times before switching to the other foot.

Want to make this at-home foot exercise a little more challenging? Create resistance by weighing down the opposite end of the towel with an object.

Sand Walking

At least some amount of barefoot walking is good for all of us, especially if it’s on sand. Walking barefoot on sand helps build foot and calf strength, as well stretch your feet, toes, and calves.

The details (which are pretty straightforward):

  1. Head somewhere sandy (beach, desert, sandbox, volleyball court, playground).
  2. Remove your shoes and socks.
  3. Walk for as long as possible. Be sure to increase your distance over time, as too much sand walking too soon can make your feet and calves sore.


strong feet make for easy living

Strong feet give you wings. Photo: Adobe


Foot Pain Exercises + Foot Stretches for Pain

Tennis Ball Roll (or Lacrosse Ball Roll)

This foot pain exercise is helpful for reducing arch pain, treating plantar fasciitis, and stretching/massaging your arches.

The details:

  1. Sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Place a tennis ball or lacrosse ball on the floor beneath one of your feet.
  3. Massage the bottom of your foot by rolling the ball around.
  4. Increase or decrease the pressure you place on the ball as needed (to add more pressure, you can also do this foot stretch while standing).
  5. Roll for 2 minutes and then repeat using your other foot.

Achilles Stretch

Keeping your Achilles strong is essential to maintaining good overall foot health—cheers to the Achilles tendon and this stretch!

The details:

  1. Face a wall (arm’s length distance) and place your palms in front of you, flat against it.
  2. Move one foot back while keeping your knee straight.
  3. Make sure both heels are flat on the floor.
  4. Lean forward from the hips until you feel a stretch in your Achilles tendon and calf muscle.
  5. If necessary, adjust your stance to feel the pull while keeping your heels on the floor.
  6. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides. 
  7. Repeat 3 times on each side.

For other great Achilles stretches, be sure to check out our article on shin splint prevention and treatment.

Deep Calf Stretch

This foot health exercise is all about getting into your calves through a deep stretch. Enjoy the depth, friends!

The details:

  1. Head to the closest set of stairs and stand on one step with the heel of one leg resting off the back of it.
  2. Let your heel slowly drop down below the edge of the step.
  3. When you feel a stretch in your calf, hold for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 3 times on each calf.

At-Home Foot Strengthening Exercises for the Win!

And that’s a wrap for our take on the best foot exercises and stretches for improving foot health and reducing foot pain—we hope you got what you needed from our little list! 

If you’re looking for more on how to improve foot health, don’t forget to cruise through our Foot Health Journal and discover all the foot-loving information you never knew you needed.





To learn more about how Tread & Butter can change your world from the ground up, check out our high-quality cork insoles, available in high arch or low archor send us a note about your specific insole needs. We’re always here to inform, support (literally), and help keep your feet strong, flexible, and healthy.