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A person rubs their ankle while sitting on their bed because of their chronic pain.

5 Stretches for Persistent Foot & Ankle Pain

Got foot pain? Ankle pain?

You’ve come to the right place.

Your ankles and feet take a beating (literally) and especially if you’re on your feet all day long. Yet, many of us tend to neglect this part of the body. Instead, we opt to take a load off and counteract any foot or ankle pain by sitting back on the couch.

But this doesn’t ever fully solve the problem.

Perhaps you’ve noticed this. You get up and off the couch to go to bed, and your feet and ankles are achy. It might even keep you up at night or even cause calf cramps and more.

Luckily, there are easy and simple solutions to this problem. Below, we outline the best stretches for ankle pain and the best stretches for foot pain. Let’s get stretching!

Note: If you’re having extreme and severe pain, please book a visit with your doctor’s office. The stretches outlined below should not cause increased pain. If they do, this may mean something more is amiss.

Stretching Exercises for Ankle Pain & Foot Pain

So, you’ve been on your feet all day. Or perhaps you have foot pain and have been sitting all day in the same position. Pain frequently occurs because of doing too much or doing nothing at all.

But today, you’re going to do something about it! Here are the best stretches for your ankles and feet.

1. The Yogi Toe Stretch

I call this one the yogi toe stretch (mostly because I actually learned it in a yoga class). It’s intense. But after I started doing it almost every day, I’ve had less and less foot or ankle pain, which I’ve battled for over a decade.

While this one does say “toe” stretch, it also targets the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia runs along the bottom of your foot from your heel to your toes. Basically, this band of connective tissue helps support the arches of your feet.

And boy, does this tissue take a beating! You wear the wrong shoes or walk for too long, and hello, plantar fasciitis!

But giving this piece of connective tissue a little love is so worth it. Here’s how you do it:

  • Sit on your knees.
  • Curl your toes under and sit fully back on your feet.
  • It’s here where you should begin to feel a stretch through the underside of both feet.
  • Try to hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds. If you can’t, that’s okay. It is a really intense one! At the very least, hold for 15-20 seconds.
  • Repeat this stretch 2-3 times a day.

2. The Towel Calf Stretch

This is one of the best stretches for ankle pain.

The calf muscles partially support the ankle joint. The calf muscle attaches at the heel through the Achilles tendon. And these muscles act as your gas and brake pedal for walking and running.

It’s safe to say that if you’re on your feet all day, you likely have tight calves, especially if you aren’t targeting these guys in any weight lifting program (don’t worry, they’re used to that bit of neglect).

All in all, this is probably one of the easiest ankle stretches to relieve pain in the calf area. Here’s how you do it:

  • Sit on a comfortable surface with your legs outstretched straight in front of you.
  • Grab a towel and wrap it under your right foot, holding one end of the towel in each hand.
  • Gently pull your toes toward you. Try to keep your right knee relatively straight (but not locked).
  • You should feel a gentle stretch in your calf.
  • Hold here for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.
  • Aim to do at least 2-3 repetitions on each leg.

You might also really love: 5 Simple Stretches to Reduce Hip Pain

3. The Towel Stretch 2.0

Okay, so we’ve got another one with a towel.

This one is slightly different but also just as good when relieving ankle and foot pain. Basically, this one targets your calf from a slightly different angle. You can probably make a few guesses. But just in case, here are the exact instructions on how to do it:

  • Set up as you would for the towel calf stretch. This means sitting with your legs straight in front of you.
  • Wrap that towel underneath your right foot while holding each end in each hand.
  • Slowly pull the towel toward you. But instead of pulling your foot straight, try pulling your foot to the inside.
  • Hold here for 20-30 seconds, then pull your foot to the outside. Again, hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Then, switch legs and repeat.
  • You can also do this one up to 3 times a day.

4. The Tennis Ball Roll

Now, I know we said we were looking at stretches for ankle pain or stretches for foot pain. But this exercise falls pretty much in line with that, besides not being an actual stretch.

Instead, this is more of a self-massage. You’ll need a tennis ball or something similar. Here’s how you do it:

  • Stand near a chair, table, or wall for support if you need it.
  • Place the tennis ball under one foot.
  • Slowly run your foot back and forth over the tennis ball while applying moderate pressure.
  • Do this for 30 seconds to a minute for each foot. You should feel some release afterward.

5. Ankle Circles

This is more of a dynamic stretch. This means that your ankle joint goes through its almost full range of motion. It also gets the blood flowing, which can be much needed after a long day of sitting or standing.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Sit in a chair.
  • Place your ankle across your opposite thigh.
  • Slowly begin doing ankle circles in one direction.
  • Do 10 circles one way, then 10 circles the other way.
  • Repeat on your opposite side.

Use These Stretches for Your Ankle & Foot Pain When You Need Them!

Ideally, if you’re experiencing ongoing pain daily, you may want to consider doing these stretches every day. Again, if you experience severe pain, please contact your doctor and book an appointment for them to take a look to ensure there isn’t anything more serious happening.

All in all, you don’t need to live with pain!

Often, a bit of movement is the answer. These stretches can be that little bit your body desperately needs to rebalance and feel good once again.

Related article: 20 Stretches to Combat the Negative Effects of Sitting

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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