How to Stretch the Foot Arch

The arch of your foot is supported by a thin ligament that connects the front to your heel. If this support band becomes stiff or inflamed, you may have plantar fasciitis, a condition that causes pain along the arch of the foot when running, toe walking, jumping or using the affected foot in other ways. In most cases, stretching the arch can relieve your pain and improve your mobility.

Stretching your arches can improve mobility. (Image: Rick Sargeant/Hemera/Getty Images)

Step 1

Sit on the floor and extend one leg straight out in front of you. Bend your other leg to a 90-degree angle so that you can grasp the toes on that foot with your hands.

Step 2

Contract the muscles in the shin of your bent leg to pull your toes up, toward your leg and body. Grab your big toe and pull it toward your body so you feel the arch of your foot stretch.

Step 3

Hold the toe stretch for about 10 seconds and then release. Repeat the stretch 10 to 20 times. If both feet are affected, switch feet and repeat.

Step 4

Stretch your calf muscle and plantar fascia by standing with your hands against a wall and placing your affected foot slightly behind your other foot. Bend both knees and hold for 10 seconds while keeping your heels flat against the floor. Repeat this stretch up to 10 times for each affected foot.

Step 5

Consult your doctor if you experience significant or worsening pain during or following arch stretches. You may suffer from a condition that requires medical or surgical intervention.

Tip

If you cannot reach your toes to stretch them, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends wrapping a towel around your big toe and using the towel to pull your toes toward your body.

Warning

Stop stretching immediately and consult a doctor if you experience shooting pain, tingling and numbness or swelling in your arch or heels.

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