Physical Therapy for Foot Pain

Physical Therapy for Foot Pain



If you are looking for a non-invasive first step in the treatment of foot pain, physical therapy exercises are a great option. Patients are often surprised by what anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy exercises can do. Of course, there are only certain types of injuries or conditions that can be treated with physical therapy. It is best to see an orthopedic surgeon to properly diagnose you and give you the best treatment plan. If you are dealing with chronic pain from a condition such as arthritis, implementing these exercises for foot pain could help you manage your symptoms.


What Causes Foot Pain?

There are different kinds of acute injuries or chronic conditions that could be causing your foot pain. Seeing an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the foot and ankle is the best way to get the proper diagnosis. A few common orthopedic foot issues are:

General Physical Therapy for Foot Pain

Toe Raise to Toe Curl

Strengthening the muscles in your toes helps support the rest of your foot especially when walking. Start by sitting in a chair. While keeping your toes on the ground, raise your heels and hold once only the balls of your feet are on the floor. Hold at the top for 5 seconds, then lower the heels. Then raise your heels until only your big toe and the second toe are on the ground. Hold for 5 seconds and release. Lastly, raise the heels and curl the toes at the top with your toes still light touching the ground.  Repeat the exercise for 10 reps, 3 sets.

Calf Stretch

Standing up, place your hand on a wall or hard surface to balance. Raise your toes up against the wall and slowly move your body towards the wall. Most gyms will also have a calf stretching device on the ground! This stretch is great after doing exercises and keeps the lower leg and Achilles mobile.


Resistance Band Stretch / Exercise


Start this exercise by sitting on the ground with your feet out in front of you. With a resistance band around the top of your foot, slowly pull toward your hips. Hold this stretch for 5 seconds then release. You can repeat this exercise 5 times until you start to feel more mobility.


Like the pull exercise, start by sitting on the ground with your feet out in front of you. With a resistance band around the top of your foot, slowly point your toes forward. Hold this exercise for 5 seconds then release. You can repeat this exercise 5 times.


Marble Grab

Practicing functional exercises is important for increasing strength and mobility. While sitting down in a chair, place a marble or similar object on the ground in front of you. Try picking up the marble with your foot and holding it. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat up to 5 times.


Toe Extension

This exercise is helpful for conditions like plantar fasciitis. Start by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the ground and one foot on the opposite thigh. Pull your toes towards the top of your ankle until you feel a stretch on the bottom of your foot and heal. Massaging the arch of your foot while in this stretch can heal and relieve pain from plantar fasciitis.


Golf Ball Foot Roll

Sitting in a chair, roll your foot on the top of a tennis or golf ball forwards and backward. You should feel a massage in the arch of your foot. This has been shown to relieve pain from plantar fasciitis.


When Should I See a Doctor for Foot Pain?

If you have an acute injury, meaning the pain happens suddenly from a fall or blow, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you are dealing with chronic pain that will not go away despite conservative methods, then it is time to see a doctor. It is best to see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in the foot and ankle to receive the best quality care. You can find our foot and ankle specialists here.

Orthopedic Surgeons at Elite 

Cassie Whittaker Cassie is the Communications Coordinator for Elite Sports Medicine + Orthopedics. She has been writing and reviewing medical content since 2020.

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