The 10 Best Foot Stretches For Runners

When we think of stretching, we tend to focus on quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves before anything else. Yes, stretching out all of our major muscle groups after running is essential to help decrease our risk of injury or just to ease up on the DOMS in the following days, but what about our feet? What about foot stretches for runners?

If we think about it, our feet take a big hit while we run. Step after step, pounding the pavement or trails, our feet take quite a beating. Some of you may suffer from foot discomfort and pain on many different levels, deal with Plantar Fasciitis, or other foot ailments.

To help our feet get into or stay in tip-top shape, it is important to take care of them before and after a run, just like the rest of our muscles, and I’m not just talking pedicures, but specific foot stretches for runners.

In this guide, we have put together a list of the 10 best foot stretches for runners to help take care of our feet, strengthen and stretch them out, and prepare them for the next big run.

More specifically, in this article we will look at:

  • Benefits of Stretching and Strengthening Our Feet For Running
  • 10 Foot Stretches For Runners


Let’s stretch!

Benefits of Stretching and Strengthening Our Feet For Running

Our feet are the first point of contact with every step we take when we run, taking on the brunt of the impact mile after mile, day after day. Foot stretches for runners that improve strength and mobility are vital to running efficiencies and avoiding overuse injuries.

Let’s take a closer look at the specific benefits of including foot stretches for runners in your routine.

Strengthening and stretching your feet can:

  • Improve mobility, which in turn can lead to more efficient running.
  • Improve flexibility, aiding in balance.
  • Improve strength to better support running impact and foot placement.

Ready to take care of those twenty-nine different muscles working each foot? Let’s get into our foot stretches for runners.

Foot Stretches For Runners: Ball Roll

10 Foot Stretches For Runners

Like most runners, you may feel stiffness at the beginning of your runs. This is why a proper warm-up with dynamic stretches is crucial for peak performance. If you do not warm up before your workouts, you may risk subpar performance or even increase the possibility of certain injuries.

Some dynamic stretches that can help warm up your feet are toe walks, heel walks, or any of the following foot stretches done in constant movement. Remember that dynamic stretching, or stretching in motion, is done before running and static stretching after.

While performing these foot stretches for runners, it is best to do so barefoot or with toe socks, so you can get a full range of motion and stretch out those feet and toes. If you wear your running sneakers, you will be unable to properly do most of the following stretches.

Let’s stretch!

#1: Active Toe Heel Sit

Foot Stretches For Runners: Heel Sit

This is a great static stretch for your feet where you can separate your toes and put as much of your weight as you like on your heels. As you do this stretch consistently, you will most likely be able to add more and more of your weight each time until you are fully seated on your heels for a deep stretch.

  1. Start in a kneeling position with your toes spread apart on the floor, propping you up.
  2. Sit back as far as you can go until you feel a stretch. To deepen the stretch, if possible, sit back on your heels.
  3. To deepen the stretch even more, take your hands off the floor and place them on your thighs.
  4. Hold the position for 45-60 seconds.

#2: Resistance Band Point and Flex Foot Stretch

Foot Stretches For Runners: Resistance Band Foot Stretch

This stretch can be done dynamically, as seen here, or statically, as you can hold each position for a more extended period if done after a run. For this one of our foot stretches for runners, you will need a resistance band or a towel.

  1. Sit on the floor with your legs extended out in front of you.
  2. Place a resistance band around the balls of both feet.
  3. Point your toes using the band as resistance and hold this position for a few seconds.
  4. Flex your feet, pulling them back toward your body, holding for a few seconds.
  5. Repeat for 12 complete reps.
  6. This stretch may also be done statically after a run, holding each position for 30-45 seconds.

#3: Towel Toe Pull

Foot Stretches For Runners: Towel Scrunch

You will need a small towel and somewhere to sit for this exercise.

  1. Place the towel out in front of you under your feet.
  2. In a seated position, place one foot on the towel in front of you.
  3. Scrunching your toes, pull the towel toward you.
  4. Continue grabbing, drawing, and releasing the towel until you have collected it completely.
  5. Repeat a few times on each foot.

Note: To increase the difficulty of this exercise, you can place something on the far end of the towel, weighing it down a bit.

#4: Toe Play

Foot Stretches For Runners: Toe Splay
  1. Being in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift the front part of your feet and spread your toes apart as far as possible.
  3. Hold this position for a few seconds.
  4. Release the tension on your toes.
  5. Repeat 8-10 times.

Note: After you have built up strength in your toes, you can increase the difficulty by placing a rubber band around your toes and performing the same exercise.

#5: Ball Roll

Foot Stretches For Runners: Ball Roll

For this exercise, you will need some sort of a small exercise ball or a tennis or golf ball.

  1. Being in a seated (or standing) position.
  2. Place the small ball under one of your feet, and roll the ball from toe to heel, focusing on any tender spots.
  3. Repeat this motion for 30 -45 seconds, and then repeat on the other foot.

Note: Some find this exercise relieves even more discomfort by performing it with a frozen water bottle, as ice can help with inflammation and pain relief.

#6: Big Toe Stretch

Foot Stretches For Runners: Big Toe Stretch
  1. Begin in a seated position with your right ankle on your left knee.
  2. Take your right big toe in your hand and gently stretch it back toward your knee.
  3. Hold for a few seconds.
  4. Bring it back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat 8-10 times on each foot.

Now that we have our big toes warmed up, we will take our big toe mobility to another level with one of our more difficult foot stretches for runners, the big toe lift!

#7: Big Toe Lifts

Foot Stretches For Runners: Big Toe Lifts

This one took me a long time to get the hang of. If you are like me, you may not have much control over your toes, and singling one out is quite a challenge. Give it a try, but don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get it on the first go.

  1. Begin in a seated position with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your big toes, and only your big toes, off the floor, your other toes glued to leaving the floor. I know, it’s tough!
  3. Hold the position for a few seconds.
  4. Bring your big toys back to the floor.
  5. Repeated 8-10 times.

Note: You can also do this exercise the other way around, pushing your big toe into the ground, and lifting your other four toes up.

#8: Seated Calf Raises

Foot Stretches For Runners: Calf Raises
  1. Begin in a seated position, back straight and feet flat on the floor in front of you.
  2. Lift your heels, pushing up on your toes.
  3. Bring your heels back down to the ground.
  4. Repeat for 10-12 repetitions.

Note: To increase the difficulty of this exercise, you can perform it from a standing position, and even add dumbbells, one in each hand.

#9: Bear Crawl Pose to Downward Dog

Foot Stretches For Runners: Bear Crawl to Downward Dog
  1. Begin in a bear crawl position, toes active, and wrists, elbows, and shoulders in a straight line. Your knees should be just above the ground.
  2. Push your hips back, extend your knees and elbows into a downward dog position, pushing your ankles to the ground.
  3. Hold for a few seconds.
  4. Return to the bear crawling position.
  5. Repeat 8-10 times.

#10: Good Ole Seated Foot Stretch

Foot Stretches For Runners: Foot Stretch
  1. Begin in a seated position with your right ankle on your left knee.
  2. Take your right toes in your hand and gently stretch them back toward your knee, extending them.
  3. Hold for a few seconds.
  4. Bring them back to the starting position and now push them away from you, pointing them.
  5. Repeat 8-10 times on each foot.

There you have it! 10 foot stretches for runners to add to your workout routine. If you are looking for even more strengthening foot exercises, you can check out our foot strengthening exercises for runners.

As for our stretching guides, we’ve got them all just for you:

Calf Stretches For Runners

Quad Stretches For Runners

Hamstring Stretches For Runners

IT Band Stretches For Runners

Glute Stretches For Runners

Shin Stretches For Runners

Ankle Stretches For Runners

Katelyn Tocci

Katelyn is an experienced ultra-marathoner and outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the trails. In the running community she is known for her ear to ear smile even under the toughest race conditions. She loves sharing her knowledge and experience with everyone and has a great desire to motivate others to hit the trails alongside her. Run for fun!

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