Woman exercising and stretching using a mat

Top of Foot Pain: Exercises and Stretches for Relief and Prevention

Stretches for foot pain on the top of the foot can go a long way for people with osteoarthritis, gout, extensor tendinopathy and tendonitis, bunions, problems with the bones of the foot (stress fractures) and more. Exercises for top of the foot pain will target the extensor tendons that run down along the top of foot with many of the stretches focusing on toe movement. 

Let’s explore the top exercises and stretches for the prevention of foot pain, and ultimately, foot pain relief!

Exercises for Pain on the Top of your Foot

  • Toe Flex and Raise
  • Towel Scrunches
  • Toe Splay
  • Great Toe Extension Stretch
  • Top of the Foot Stretch
Photo by FreePik

Toe Flex and Raise

This exercise works the tibialis anterior, a large muscle on the front of your leg that can have an impact on top of the foot pain. As a bonus, it can help strengthen your ankles and treat plantar fasciitis

  1. While standing, flex your toes high up towards the sky.
  2. Move forward so you are on your tiptoes. 
  3. Lower yourself back slowly. 
  4. Repeat the movement 15 times.

Click here to see a Feet First Clinic demonstration!

Towel Scrunches 

This exercise, also called toe curls, is all about keeping the top of your feet and toes strong. You’ll need a towel or blanket (or any fabric you can pick up with your toes).

  1. Stand up with your feet flat on a piece of material and keep your heels anchored to the floor. You can also sit on a chair as long as you can do the same movements with your feet. 
  2. Scrunch your toes while grasping the material, pulling it towards you, almost like you are trying to pick it up with your toes. Make sure your heels stay firmly planted on the floor as you do this.
  3. Try the movements 15 times each, or more if you’re comfortable. You can also try two feet at the same time, or alternate. 

Click here to see a Feet First Clinic demonstration!

Photo by iStock

Toe Splay

This is one of the top exercises for improved mobility, and also one of the easiest to perform!

  1. Sit down on a chair with your back straight and feet resting flat on the floor. 
  2. Spread your toes apart (without touching them) and hold the position for five seconds. 
  3. Repeat 10 times. 

Refer to Healthline for a demonstration of this exercise!

Great Toe Extension Stretch

This is a great exercise for arthritis, which often plagues the top of the foot with aches and pains. 

  1. While sitting on a chair, place the foot experiencing pain on the top of your other knee. If both feet are painful you can alternate. 
  2. While firmly holding your heel with one hand, use the other to pull your big toe back towards your ankle. 
  3. Wait until you can feel the stretch in the bottom of the foot (don’t worry, it still helps the top of the foot too!). 
  4. Repeat two to four times. 
  5. Switch feet and repeat. 

MyHealth Alberta provides an excellent image reference for this exercise!

Top of the Foot Stretch

Given its name, this stretch is pretty straight forward in terms of how it can help your top of the foot pain, but it may also help with shin pain. This stretch has different variations but we’ll keep it as simple as possible. 

  1. Sit at the very edge of a chair. 
  2. Extend one of your feet back with the top of the foot facing the floor and the knee pointing downward. 
  3. Gently press the top of the foot and toes against the floor until you feel the stretch working. 
  4. Repeat this movement ten times or less if you need and alternate between feet. 

Refer to Athletico for a demonstration of this exercise!

Photo by iStock

Need Extra Help With Your Top of the Foot Pain?

While exercises and stretches are great for pain prevention and management, sometimes the muscles and bones of the foot need a little extra care and attention. Call us at (416) 769-3338 or book an appointment using the form below or the button at the top of your browser!

Banner Image by Dragen Zigic from FreePik!

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures. She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.