6 Proven Exercises for Building Strong Feet and Ankles

October 19, 2016

Use these exercises to get (and stay) pain-free


Health of the feet and ankles is vital to our ability to walk, run, and maintain our balance. Taking time to strengthen and stretch them will make a big difference in keeping your feet happy and healthy. Midwest Podiatry Centers' podiatrists often recommend that patients do three of the following exercises a few days each week.


Toe pick-ups/curls











Place several small objects, like marbles or Monopoly pieces, on the floor in front of you. Using your toes, pick them up one at a time and drop them into a cup or bowl. Do your best to complete two sets of 10 with each foot. You can also use a towel instead of small objects.


Bent-knee wall stretch

This exercise will stretch one of the deeper calf muscles that connects to the Achilles. Place your palms against the wall, with one leg forward and one leg back, and lower into a "seated" position by bending your knees. Continue to lean into the wall until you feel the stretch in the back of your calf, and hold for 30-45 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.


Negative calf raises

This is an exercise that will help strengthen your toes, calf muscles, and Achilles. Stand on a step (use the bottom step - safety first!) with your heels hanging off and your toes on the edge. Lift one leg up, off the step, and slowly drop your heel below the step. Try to take at least 10 seconds to lower it all the way down. Repeat twice with each foot. Done correctly, this exercise has been shown to help relieve Achilles pain, and prevent Achilles tendinitis.



Towel tug


Stretching the ankle with a towel will increase ankle flexibility and stretch the calf muscles. Sitting on the floor or a bed, keep your knee straight and loop a towel around your foot. Pull the towel back toward yourself until you feel it stretching your calf, and  hold for 30 seconds. Do this for both feet, completing two sets of 10.


Ankle pump up and down


 The ankle pump up is similar to the towel tug in that it stretches the calf muscles and increases ankle dorsiflexion. Pull your foot up like you are trying to bring your toes to your shin. Hold this for 10 seconds and repeat three times with each foot.


The ankle pump down will do the same, but increase ankle plantarflexion. Push your foot down, pointing your toes toward the floor. Again, hold for 10 seconds and repeat three times with each foot.


Foot roll


Using a frozen water bottle, golf ball, or lacrosse ball, roll your foot over the item for 10 minutes, three times per day. This can help relieve plantar fasciitis pain, and is a good massage for the bottom of your feet. Be sure to carefully work at the painful areas, put enough force into the item, and work the heel and toes.


These exercises can help, but they don't directly address any foot problems you may have. If you have questions or concerns, please consult with a podiatrist. You can call Midwest Podiatry Centers at 612-788-8778 or fill our the appointment request form here.























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