Flexor Digitorum Longus Exercises

The flexor digitorum longus is a long, narrow muscle that is found in the lower leg. This muscle plantar flexes and inverts the foot, flexes the toes and helps the foot "grip" the ground. Keeping this muscle strong and conditioned will help exercise-related and overuse injuries of the posterior leg. Target the flexor digitorum longus with several simple exercises.

Close-up of a woman walking barefoot on the grass.
Credit: maghakan/iStock/Getty Images

Foot Inversion

Inversion of the foot occurs when the sole of the foot is turned medially. Sit on the floor with your legs extended to the front. Slowly rotate your right foot so that the sole faces toward your left foot. Hold this position for five seconds, then place your foot flat on the floor. Repeat the exercise with your left foot. Continue to alternate feet until you have completed the desired number of repetitions. Increase the difficulty of this exercise by looping a resistance band around the ball of the working foot. Keep the outside of the band pulled tight to add resistance to the exercise.

Seated Calf Raise

The seated calf raise exercise works your flexor digitorum longus using plantar flexion. Sit in a chair with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your knees and press downward. As you are pressing down, lift your heels as high as you can while keeping the balls of your feet on the floor. At the top of the movement, squeeze your calf muscles and hold the contraction for two to five seconds. Relax your legs and lower your heels back to the floor. Place a weight across your knees to make this exercise more challenging.

Towel Bunching

You use your flexor digitorum longus on a daily basis to grip the floor and your shoes with your toes. The towel-bunching exercise utilizes this action to work the muscle. Place a medium size towel flat on the floor in front of a chair. Sit in the chair and place your foot flat on the towel. Use your toes to grip the towel and pull it toward your heel. Continue through the length of the towel then spread the towel back out and repeat the exercise with your other foot.

Barefoot Walking and Running

Walking or running barefoot on uneven surfaces, such as sand or grass, is a great way to target your flexor digitorum longus. Check for broken glass, rocks and stickers before taking your shoes off and beginning this exercise. Walk or run barefoot for five to 10 minutes a few times a week.

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