The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Make Your Feet Stronger! Foot Strengthening Exercises

Posted by on Wednesday, March 7th, 2012


You lift weights to strengthen your arms and shoulders. You do squats to strengthen your legs. You do crossword puzzles to strengthen your mind. So why not do something to strengthen your feet.

Yes, those appendages at the bottom of your legs are just like every other part of your body–they have muscles that can be improved, too. Stronger feet can help improve your stability and may help with problems like high arches and flat feet. If you’re considering switching to barefoot or minimal shoe running, then foot strengthening exercises will help prepare your feet (absolutely do NOT make this switch suddenly–work up to it). And if you’re a ballet dancer, then you probably already know you need to do foot strengthening exercises to manage your new pointe shoes. Stronger feet can also prevent or lessen foot cramps.

Here are some simple exercises you can do to improve your foot strength:

  • Walk barefoot. Whenever you get the chance, walk barefoot or in socks. Without any other kind of support, your feet will have to work a little harder and thus build up strength. If you are in an environment where you can’t walk barefoot (for example, most jobs, restaurants, etc.), there are a whole lot of minimalist shoes available now, including some that won’t look too out of place in an office–unless you work in fashion and you’re expected to wear stilettos all day. If that’s your situation, either grit your teeth and remember, “This is the business I have chosen” as you head off to foot surgery somewhere down the road, or rebel by coming in sporting shoes from Vivobarefoot or Kigo (whose shoes, by the way, are made of recycled materials so you can be environmentally proud of yourself if you wear them). Walking and running on sand is even better. Put your vacation time to use by strengthening your feet with a run on the beach!
  • Point and flex your toes. Yes, it’s that simple. Stretch out your legs, point one foot, flex it, and hold that for a few seconds. Then do the other foot. Do this about ten times for each side.
  • Pick it up. Why use your hands when you can use your toes?! Just choose an object of a manageable size (for example, a ping pong ball rather than a volleyball), put it on the ground, and pick it up with one foot. Drop the object off in another location than where you started, and then pick it up again with your other foot. Eventually you’ll find yourself painting masterpieces with your feet.
  • Need a lift. Stand with your feet flat on the ground and try lifting up each toe, one at a time, while keeping the other toes flat. Sure, it’s easy with the big toe, but wait until you try the others…
  • Spread them. Mark’s Daily Apple has a number of foot exercises, including a a “toe fan.” Practice fanning your toes out as wide as possible and hold for about ten seconds. Do ten times on each foot. This is another one you can do while sitting at your desk or lounging on your sofa. Aren’t foot exercises the greatest, most convenient exercises ever?
  • Tiptoe. One of the foot exercises suggested by Ironmantriathlontips is one of the easiest–practice standing on your toes, or really the balls of your feet. Just stand barefoot and lift your heels up and down. For a balance challenge, do it with your eyes closed. To get a nice calf and Achilles tendon stretch, stand with your forefoot on a step or a curb and let your heels hang off. Raise your heels up, then sink back down past the level of the step/curb. This one feels really good and is a quick simple one to do a few times before or after running.

Keep up with these foot strengthening exercises and soon your feet will have the power of Chuck Norris! However, if you’re feet aren’t feeling good and you’re unsure of what to do to make them feel better, contact us at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.


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.