7 Exercises To Help Ease Foot & Ankle Pain – Flexiseq

7 Exercises To Help Ease Foot & Ankle Pain

In the UK, 20.3 million people have a musculoskeletal condition such as arthritis or joint pain. Living with joint pain can have a big impact - not just on a person’s physical health, but on their mental health as well.

A key way of managing joint pain and arthritis is through exercise. This doesn’t have to be rigorous exercise in a gym or running, but can be as simple as stretches and exercises that are done from home to keep painful joints moving.

By moving a painful joint, you encourage the essential synovial fluid within the joint to keep moving and bringing in essential nutrients. Furthermore, by moving painful joints you increase the strength in the muscles around them, allowing the joint to be better supported.

Living with arthritis in the feet and ankles can often leave you feeling frustrated by simple tasks you were once able to do but now cause you significant pain. So we’ve found 7 simple exercises and stretches that can start to build strength and help support the joints in your feet and ankles.

As with all exercises, listen to your body and only do what you feel comfortable doing. A little bearable pain when you begin is okay but if it starts to hurt more, stop immediately. If you are unsure, please consult your GP or a trained healthcare professional. If you have not done any exercise in a while, take it slowly and do not put your joints under any strain you do not feel you can take.

1. Ankle Circles

This exercise helps promote joint mobility and flexibility in the ankle, which in turn can build your confidence in the joint’s ability to support you.

  • Lie on a flat surface (a bed or floor, whichever is more comfortable).

  • Raise your ankle by placing a rolled up towel underneath it.

  • Rotate the ankle clockwise 10 times.

  • Rotate the ankle counter-clockwise 10 times.

  • Switch ankles and do the same as above again.

2. Achilles Tendon Stretch

By keeping the key tendon in the ankle flexible and mobile, you allow the rest of the joint to better support the weight it bears.


  • Stand facing a wall and place your hands on the wall for support.

  • Place one leg straight behind you and the other leg bent in front of you.

  • Ensure the back foot’s heel is firmly on the floor so the whole foot remains flat.

  • Keep your toes pointing towards the wall you’re leaning against.

  • Lean against the wall and bring your bent knee forward until you feel a stretch in your achilles tendon.

  • Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat 5 times.

  • Switch legs and do the other ankle.

3. Toe Curls

This exercise can help the muscles in the foot stay strong to improve overall balance.

  • Sit on a chair and place a towel beneath one of your feet.

  • Clench your toes so they grip the towel.

  • Hold for 10 seconds and then repeat 10 times.

  • Switch feet and repeat the exercise.

4. Toe Salutes

This can help strengthen muscles in the sole of your foot while increasing flexibility in stiff and painful toes.

  • Stand with your feet firmly on the ground.

  • Gently raise both of your big toes while keeping the rest of your toes and feet on the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Switch so your big toes remain on the floor and your other toes lift up. Hold for 5 seconds.

  • Repeat this 10 times. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come naturally; with practice you will improve.

5. Plantar Fascia Stretch

The plantar fascia is the ligament that runs along the sole of your foot. Keeping it supple and mobile can help you support the whole foot and decrease stiffness in your feet.

  • Sit on a chair and cross one leg over the other, placing the ankle of the crossed leg on the knee of the seated leg.

  • With your hand on all the toes of the crossed leg, gently pull the toes back towards your shin until you feel a stretch in the sole of your foot.

  • Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds and then release.

  • Repeat this 5 times and then switch legs to do it on the other foot.

6. Ankle Alphabet

This exercise can help strengthen and stretch out the muscles in your feet and ankles. In doing so you can help build strength to decrease stiffness in the joints.

  • Sit on a chair, raise one leg and extend it out in front of you.

  • Keeping the other leg firmly on the floor, start to map out the alphabet with your raised foot, ensuring you’re flexing from the ankle as much as possible.

  • Go through the full alphabet on one foot and then switch to the other.

7. Heel Raises

This primarily focuses on the calf and ankle muscles which support the foot and ankle. By keeping these muscles strong and flexible you will find improved strength and mobility in the foot and ankle joints.

  • Find a table, counter or chair for support and stand with your feet shoulder width apart.

  • Keeping your toes pointing straight out in front of you, slowly rise up onto your tip-toes and hold for 10 seconds.

  • Gently lower your heels back down and repeat this 15-20 times.

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