The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Foot Pain Prevention: Are You Giving Your Feet a Daily Workout?

Posted by on Friday, September 26th, 2014


Exercising your feet should be a part of your everyday life whether you are old, young, athletic, recovering from injury, in pain or feeling your best. Three out of four Americans will suffer some foot ailment in their lifetimes, warns a special health report compiled by Harvard Medical School. Gout, bursitis, aching arches, and plantar fasciitis are just a few common complaints. The best thing you can do is pay a little attention to your “overworked dogs” and incorporate the following stretches and exercises into your day — perhaps while a commercial is on during your evening television program, while you are taking your morning shower, as you wait in line at the bank, or on your break at work. Find some habitual way of limbering up your feet to enjoy a more mobile and pain-free future.

fitness for foot pain
Walking is a good start for improving foot fitness.
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1. Walk, Walk, Walk!

Walking is one of the best overall foot exercises there is. Walking puts your foot through its full range of motion from heel to toe. In addition to strengthening your feet, it also improves total body health — circulation, muscle tone, and mood. A brisk walk can burn up to 100 calories per mile.

The American Academy of Podiatric Medicine offers these tips for starting a regular walking routine:

– Perform a series of “loosening up” exercises to alleviate muscle stiffness before you leave. Loosen up the heel cords and thighs, in particular. Take five deep breaths per stretch and hold the stretch, without bouncing. Stretch again to improve circulation and decrease lactic acid buildup after your walk.

– Start off trying to make walking a convenient habit. Just try to walk five to ten minutes three to five times a week to start. Be mindful not to start too aggressively, or you’ll feel uncomfortably sore. Gradually try to build to a brisk 15-minute mile (or four miles per hour). Measure a one-mile stretch near your home, record your time and measure your progress to stay motivated.

– To derive any real benefits from walking, you must work toward walking at least 30 minutes at a brisk pace without stopping; 40 to 60 minutes is ideal. Calculate your week’s total walking time in minutes and try to increase it by 10 percent each week. Aim to walk four or five times a week and leave yourself a few days of recovery to avoid serious injury.

2. Flexibility Exercises

You can improve your flexibility, no matter how stiff or old you are. The easiest way to improve flexibility is by doing slow and gentle daily stretches, focusing on one muscle group at a time. To keep your feet flexible, the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society recommends:

– 10 repetitions: Toe raise, point and curls, held for five seconds at a time (Ideal for toe cramps & hammertoes)

– Two minutes: Golf ball roll (Ideal for plantar fasciitis, arch strain & foot cramps)

– Five repetitions: Towel curls, working up to curling with a weight on the towel (Ideal for hammertoes, toe cramps & ball of foot pain)

– One repetition: Pick up 20 marbles off the floor and place them into a small bowl with your toes (Ideal for ball of foot pain, hammertoes & cramps)

– As often as you can: Walk in the sand at the beach to massage your feet, strengthen your toes, and condition the foot!

3. Resistance Exercises

Resistance exercises use weights or exercise bands to strengthen the 20 foot muscles. Check out these resistance band exercises for the feet. Try to perform resistance foot exercises twice each week. It doesn’t have to take long, but be sure you warm up the feet beforehand and cool them down afterward.

If you would like more guidance on alleviating foot pain and preventing serious injury, please contact our NYC podiatrist office.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.