Exercises to Alleviate Pain from Foot Arthritis

Foot arthritis exercises

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Living with foot arthritis can be challenging, as it often leads to pain and limited mobility. However, targeted exercises can significantly alleviate discomfort and enhance foot function. This article explores a variety of exercises tailored for people with foot arthritis.

The importance of these exercises cannot be overstated. They not only offer pain relief but also contribute to overall foot health. By incorporating stretching and strengthening routines into your daily life, you can effectively manage the symptoms of foot arthritis.

Understanding Foot Arthritis

Arthritis in the feet manifests as inflammation and stiffness in the joints, which can lead to chronic pain. It’s a condition that affects millions worldwide, impacting their quality of life. Understanding the nature of foot arthritis is the first step towards managing its symptoms effectively.

This condition can result from various factors, including age, genetics, and lifestyle. Recognizing the causes and symptoms of foot arthritis is crucial in adopting an appropriate exercise regimen to alleviate discomfort.

Causes of Foot Arthritis

  • Age: As you get older, your chances of getting arthritis go up because your joints wear out over time.
  • Genetics: A family history of arthritis can significantly raise the risk of developing the condition.
  • Lifestyle: Being overweight and doing a job that stresses your feet can cause arthritis. Carrying extra weight increases pressure on your joints, and certain activities can strain your foot joints.
  • Injuries: Past foot injuries, such as fractures or severe sprains, can lead to the development of arthritis in the affected joints.
  • Medical Conditions: Diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis can contribute to the development of foot arthritis.

Symptoms of Foot Arthritis

  • Pain: Persistent pain or discomfort in the foot, often intensifying after rest or inactivity.
  • Stiffness: Reduced range of motion in foot joints, making movement difficult and sometimes painful.
  • Swelling: Noticeable inflammation in the foot joints, leading to swelling and tenderness.
  • Bone Spurs: Bony growths or spurs can form in the affected joints, causing additional pain and discomfort.
  • Deformity: As arthritis progresses, it can cause changes in the shape and structure of the foot, leading to difficulties in finding comfortable footwear and maintaining balance.

Stretching Exercises

Stretching plays a crucial role in managing foot arthritis. It helps maintain flexibility, reduces stiffness, and improves blood circulation in the feet. Regular stretching can also prevent further joint damage and decrease the risk of injuries.

1. Plantar Fascia Stretch

Plantar fascia stretch for Foot Arthritis
Plantar fascia stretch step 2
  • Starting position: Sitting in a chair with the leg to be stretched either in front of you on the floor or crossed over the opposite leg (like a Figure 4).
  • Place one or both hands on the plantar surface of the foot, over the ball of foot and toes, and give a gentle pull back until you feel a stretch.
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds and complete 3 sets.
  • Repeat on the other leg.

2. Calf Stretch

Engaging in a calf stretch, an important exercise to alleviate Foot Arthritis pain by relaxing the calf muscles.
  • While holding onto the railing of a staircase, step both feet up.
  • Slightly stagger your feet so that the injured heel is hanging off the step.
  • Your front leg should bend slightly, while the back (injured) leg’s knee will be straight.
  • Hold this stretch for 30 seconds before relaxing.
  • Repeat the stretch two more times for a total of three sets.

3. Plantar Fasciitis Golf Ball Rollout

  • Sit comfortably in a chair and place a golf ball under the foot experiencing pain.
  • Roll the golf ball under your foot, searching for areas of tenderness and providing a massage to the tight plantar fascia tissue.
  • Perform 10 rolling repetitions in each set.
  • Complete a total of 3 sets of this exercise.
Performing plantar fasciitis golf ball rollout, a therapeutic exercise for relieving heel pain caused by Foot Arthritis

Strengthening Exercises

While stretching is essential for flexibility, strengthening exercises are equally important for foot health. They help build muscle support around the joints, improving stability and reducing the load on arthritic areas. Stronger foot muscles can also enhance balance and gait, reducing the risk of falls.

1. Marble Pick-Ups

Marble Pick-Ups step 1
marble pick ups step 2
  • Get 10-20 marbles and place them on the floor with a cup next to your pile of marbles.
  • Stand up and hold onto a steady surface like a counter to help with balance.
  • Then in standing, grab a marble with your toes and lift it into the cup. Picking up marbles can be challenging, but the great thing is that even just trying to pick up the marble will strengthen your foot!

2. Arch Doming

Arch doming
Arch doming
  • Starting position: Seated in a chair with the fleet flat on the floor. Shoes should be removed.
  • You can practice with both feet at the same time or one foot at a time.
  • Squeeze the bottom of the foot and lift the inner arch off the floor, without moving any other part of the foot.
  • Hold this lift for 2 seconds, then slowly allow the arches to relax back down to the floor.
  • Repeat 10 repetitions for 3 sets.

3. Ankle Eversion with Resistance Band

Performing ankle eversion with a resistance band
ankle eversion with resistance band 2
  • Lay down on your bed with your ankle off the end.
  • Loop the band around your right foot and around your left, as seen in the graphic. We’re going to use your left foot as an anchor for your right foot as your exercise.
  • Bring your right foot out like you’re angling your ankle away from your left foot, squeeze in, then relax.
  • Do this for 10 repetitions and complete 3 sets in total.

Tip: Work on just moving your ankle and not your entire leg when performing this exercise! See if your knee rolls out at all; try to keep it still. 

4. Ankle Inversion with Resistance Band

Executing ankle inversion with a resistance band
Ankle Inversion with Resistance Band Step 2
  • Sit near a heavy table or sturdy chair that won’t move easily.
  • Bring your foot in like you’re angling your ankle toward your other foot, squeeze in, then relax. Loop the resistance band over your foot and around the table or chair leg, as shown in the graphic above.
  • Repeat this movement for 10 reps, and do a total of 3 sets.

Tip: Work on just moving your ankle and not your entire leg when performing this exercise! See if your knee rolls out at all, try to keep it still. 

5. Ankle Dorsiflexion with Resistance Band

Performing ankle dorsiflexion with a resistance band
ankle Dorsiflexion with Resistance Band Step 2
  • Lay down on your bed with your ankle off the end.
  • Loop the band around your right foot and loop the band around your left foot.
  • Point your left foot and hold that position.
  • Draw your right foot up like you’re trying to bring your toes to your nose, then relax. Finish the set, then repeat with your left foot.
  • Repeat 10 repetitions for 3 sets.

6. Ankle Plantar Flexion with a Resistance Band

Engaging in ankle plantarflexion with a resistance band
ankle plantar flexion with resistance band 1
  • Lay down on your bed with your ankle off the end.
  • Loop the band around your right foot and hold onto the other end of the band with your hands.
  • Point your toes and squeeze the back of your calf muscles, then relax. Finish the set, then repeat with your left foot.
  • Repeat 10 repetitions for 3 sets.


Foot arthritis can be a challenging condition, but incorporating specific exercises into your routine can make a significant difference. Both stretching and strengthening exercises play crucial roles in managing pain, improving mobility, and enhancing the quality of life for those with foot arthritis.

Remember, it’s essential to approach these exercises with care and, if possible, under the guidance of a healthcare professional. With consistency and dedication, these exercises can be a valuable part of managing foot arthritis effectively.

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Discover 11 Easy, At-Home “Stretch Exercises” for Stronger, Pain-Free Joints (click below)


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