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Back Pain Center

Exercises for Hallux Valgus

author image Sarka-Jonae Miller
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.
Exercises for Hallux Valgus
Hallux valgus is a condition in which the big toe of the foot curves out and then back in toward the second toe. Photo Credit ju-hyun lee/iStock/Getty Images


Hallux valgus is a condition in which the big toe of the foot curves out and then back in toward the second toe. This creates a bunion. Wearing wider shoes to make room for the protrusion may be enough to deal with the problem, but often surgery is needed to correct the misalignment. Exercises without surgery may reduce symptoms, but exercises after surgery are necessary for rehabilitation.

Dorsiflexing the Big Toe

Dorsiflexing the big toe is a passive range-of-motion exercise for hallux valgus. To perform the dorsiflexing the big toe exercise, sit on the floor or a chair. Straighten the leg with the bunion. Dorsiflex your ankle by bending your ankle toward your shin. Bend forward and grasp your big toe with the arm on the same side as the leg with hallux valgus. Pull your big toe back as far as you are able to dorsiflex your toe. Repeat up to 30 times, or otherwise as directed by your physical therapist. You may do this exercise for both feet if you have bunions on both or simply as a preventive measure.

Ankle Dorsiflexion with Band

The ankle dorsiflexion exercise strengthens the ankles and lower leg muscles, unlike the big toe exercise that stretches and elongates the toe. You will need an exercise band such as a thera-band and someone to hold the band for you to perform this exercise. Sit on the floor with your legs straight to begin. Place your hands on the floor at your sides and use your arms to hold your back straight. Place the center of the band on the top of your forefoot with your toes slightly pointed. Have a friend sit on the floor in front of you and hold the ends of the band at floor level. Next, pull your toes away from your friend and the ends of the band. You should get resistance from the band if your workout partner is holding it tight. Point your toes slightly to complete an ankle dorsiflexion.

Quadriceps Sitting

The quadriceps sitting exercise is a rehabilitative exercise for post-hallux valgus surgery. The quadriceps sitting exercise is performed lying down. Straighten both your legs. Your arms go next to your sides on the bed. Then, push the back of your knee with the bunion down into the bed and lift your heel slightly toward the ceiling. You should feel your quadriceps contract. Hold the exercise for five seconds and then rest for five seconds. Complete a total of 10 repetitions, unless otherwise directed. The University of Washington Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine recommends performing this exercise hourly after surgery. Perform four sets of this exercise every day post-surgery.

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