5 Highly Useful Foot Strengthening Exercises for Runners

Last Updated on December 28, 2022 by April

While running is a great way to get in shape for the summer and maintain weight throughout the holiday season, it’s important to take care of your body to avoid injury.

Regular running can take a toll on your feet, but the effects are always less severe if you have strong feet. Strong feet can handle the impact and shocks from running or regular foot abuse. And while running is very useful in strengthening the feet, it is, in most instances, not enough.

Hence, if you are a serious runner who wants to continue running without a high risk of injury or always end up with foot pain, you should work on strengthening your feet. Here are five foot-strengthening exercises for runners that you should try.

#1 Toe Exercises

Your toes play a more significant role when running than you might think. And when your feet start developing issues, they are always one of the first affected places. Strengthening them to handle your regular runs should also not be hard, as there are many toe exercises that you can do. Also, these toe exercises can be very useful for people with both flat feet and overpronation.

How to do the Exercise

  • Start by standing with your feet at a comfortable distance apart.
  • Try to lift the big toe on both feet while keeping the others down.
  • Hold the big toes up for a few seconds, then bring them down.
  • Now lift the other four toes on each foot while leaving the big ones down.
  • Keep switching back and forth for at least 5 minutes, and repeat the exercise thrice a day.

#2 Heel Raises

There are many muscles in your feet, and most of them will have a role to play when running, but the ones on your lower leg seem to do much of the work. And so, it is always important for runners to strengthen them. Heel raises are simple but very effective exercises for activating and strengthening your lower leg muscles.

How to do the Exercise

  • Stand on a comfortable surface with your feet close together
  • While inhaling, slowly raise your heel and lower them slowly on your exhale.
  • Repeat this routine until you feel your feet articulating against the flow as you move.
  • To make these raises even more interesting, close your eyes and time the movement perfectly with your breath.

#3 Towel Stretches

Towel stretches are one of the most useful exercises for strengthening the feet. And although many people tend to assume they are easy and less effective, this could not be further from the truth. If you do them often enough, you might not even need any other exercise to strengthen your feet.

How to do the Exercise

  • Start by sitting on a level surface with your feet flat.
  • Roll a towel and place it under the ball of one foot while holding it on both ends
  • Pull the towel towards you gently while ensuring that your knee remains straight.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
  • Switch to the other foot and repeat the routine for a few minutes.

#4 Short Foot Exercise

The short foot exercise is one of your best bets when you want to strengthen your intrinsic muscles. And this will, in turn, help to create a more stable support base for your legs, hips, and entire body. This exercise can be very useful to improve your overall performance as a runner and prevent injuries. Short foot exercises will be quite difficult initially, but with little practice and patience, you can do them anytime.

How to do the Exercise

  • Sit in a comfortable chair with your bare feet.
  • Form a 90-degree angle at the knees and ankles.
  • Try to shorten the foot by doming the arches without crunching the toes.
  • Make sure you do not curl or extend your toes, and you can focus on one foot at a time or do the exercise for both at once.
  • Practice the exercise throughout the day as many times as possible.

#5 Calf Raises

Every runner knows the importance of the traditional calf raises when it comes to strengthening the foot. It is one of those exercises that you must do if you are serious about improving your running performance. Making calf raises part of your routine helps build the calf muscles, provides better ankle stability, and improves your balance.

  • With your bare foot, stand on the edge of a stair.
  • Let the heel drop below the step level.
  • Raise the heel slowly until you feel a stretch on your calf muscles
  • Hold the position for 15 seconds before lowering the heel.
  • Repeat this at least 15 times and twice a day.


Strengthening your feet is vital to minimize the risk of injuries and ensure you do not always end up with painful feet after every run. And while there are many exercises that you can do, the five above are some of the most effective ones. But even as you strengthen your feet, you must combine this with good running habits, such as wearing proper shoes and ensuring that you do not overdo things.

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