5 Highly Useful Foot Strengthening Exercises for Runners

Last Updated on November 8, 2019 by April

Foot strengthening exercises for runners

While running is a great way get in shape for the summer and maintain your weight throughout the holiday seasons, it’s important to take care of your body in order to avoid injury. Lucky for us, we have Patrick from Fix Your Walk to help us learn how to keep our feet ready for running.

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 that come from running or the regular foot abuse. And while the act of running is very useful in strengthening the feet, it is in most instances not enough.

Hence if you are a serious runner that wants to continue running often without a high risk of injury or always ending up with foot pain, you should work on strengthening your feet. Here are 5 foot strengthening exercises for runners that you should try.

#1 Toe Exercises

Your toes play a more significant role when running that you might think. And when you feet start developing issues, they are always one of the first places that are affected. 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 exercise can be very useful for people with both flat feet and overpronation.

How to do the Exercise

  • Start by standing with your feet in 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 and 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 at least 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 then lower them slowly on your exhale.
  • Repeat this routine until you start feeling the 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.

Foot Strengthening Exercises

#3 Towel Stretches

Towel stretches are one of the most useful exercises for strengthening the feet. And although many people tend to assume that they are easy and less effective, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, 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 on the ground.
  • 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 bet 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 the entire body. This exercise can be very useful; when trying to improve your overall performance as a runner and in preventing injuries. Short foot exercises will be quite difficult at the beginning but with little practice and patience, you will be able to do them anytime you want.

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 but 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 to build the calf muscles, provide better ankle stability and also improve your balance.

  • With your barefoot, 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 if you want 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 work towards strengthening your feet, you also need to combine this with good running habits such as wearing proper shoes and ensuring that you do not overdo things.

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