Foot and ankle exercises

The foot has 26 bones and 33 joints. By keeping your feet and ankles flexible and strong, you may help your walking and balance.

Have a look at the video below from Eric Franklin to learn more about the anatomy, movements of the foot/ankle as well as a few easy- to-use exercises. Your feet will appreciate this!

Click here to watch Eric Franklin's video 'Awaken your feet'

Hungry for more?

If you liked the programme above, you might want a programme, which is a bit longer - for when you have more time. Here are some more from Physiotools:



Exercise one

Whilst standing or sitting:

  • Practice pushing your toes down and lifting your heel up, one foot at a time.
  • Perform the exercise slowly and controlled both ways.
  • Repeat 10 times.


Exercise two

  • Sit with one leg across and on top of the other leg: cup one hand around the heel to steady it and use the other hand around the forefoot.
  • Twist your forefoot, as if you were wringing out a cloth.

Exercise three

  • Sit with one leg across and on top of the other leg: Interlace your fingers with your toes.
  • Use your hand to help spread the toes, move the toes up and down and you can also pull gently on them to create traction.

Exercise four

  • Sit with one leg across and on top of the other leg.
  • Visualize and feel the metatarsal bones in your foot.
  • Use your fingers with a pinch grip around two neighbouring metatarsal bones and move them gently up and down next to each other using your fingers.
  • Then move on to the next pair of bones.

Exercise five

Whilst standing:

  • Lift your heel up and straighten your ankle.
  • Curl the toes under and feel the stretch on the forefoot and shin.


  • Do it whilst sitting using your hands to help with the stretching.
  • Repeat 2 times.
  • Hold for 20 seconds.

Exercise six

Whilst sitting:

  • Put one foot on top of the other.
  • Try to lift the bottom foot, while preventing any movement with the foot that is on top.
  • Hold 5 secs.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Alternatively: if you can’t work against the resistance – you can use your hands to aid the movement.

Exercise seven

Whilst sitting or lying:

  • Rotate your ankles.
  • Change directions.
  • Repeat 10 times.

Alternatively use your hands to aid the movement.


Exercise eight

Whilst sitting with your feet on the floor:

  • Open and close your toes sideways.
  • You can assist with your fingers if needed.
  • Repeat 10 times.



Exercise Nine 

Whilst lying or sitting:

  • Bend your toes under – then straighten them out.
  • Similar to doing a fist with your hands and showing the knuckles before straightening fingers out.
  • Repeat 10 times.



Exercise Ten 

Sitting with your feet on the floor:

  • Shorten your foot/arch by tightening the muscles on the sole of your foot.
  • Keep your toes pushed straight against the floor.
  • Repeat 10 times.


Exercise Eleven

Whilst sitting with one leg across and on top of the other leg: 

  • With your ankle bent, hold your heel with one hand and using your other hand pull your toes back towards your shin.
  • Hold for 30 secs.
  • Repeat twice.


Exercise Twelve

  • Sit with the foot on the floor – or with one leg across and on top of the other leg if you can’t reach the floor.
  • Lift your toes up one at a time with the finger.
  • Then active bring your toe back down to the floor - using your finger to give slight resistance to the movement if you can tolerate resistance. 

Exercise Thirteen

Stand by firm support in a walking position with the leg to be stretched behind you.

  1. Bend the leg to be stretched and let the weight of your body stretch you calf without the heel lifting off the floor. Hold 30 sec. Repeat twice.
  2. This time keep the knee straight at the back and lean your body forwards and down until you feel the stretching in the calf of the straight leg. Hold 30 seconds. Repeat twice.
  3. Similar to exercise 2 - but add a small ball under the forefoot or a rolled-up cloth to make the stretch a bit deeper. Be careful not to slide.