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How to Stretch the Arch of Your Foot

a man in a white shirt and blue and pink suspenders
By Babafemi Adebajo
Romi Hector
Edited by Romi Hector

Updated January 30, 2024.

Person doing arch stretches

The arches of the foot make everyday movement possible. They help keep the foot flexible, making it possible to walk or sprint. Additionally, they allow the foot to support bodyweight properly. Sometimes, the arch can become painful due to flat feet, stress, overuse, injury, or using shoes with poor arch support.

Regardless of the cause, stretching the arch helps keep the foot in optimal condition for movement.

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Benefits of Stretching the Arch of Your Foot

Stretching can improve several conditions. It can be used to correct supination, strengthen arches, and relieve pain associated with metatarsalgia.

Stretching the arch has several benefits, including:

  • Increased blood flow Stretching can loosen any tight muscles and make muscle action relatively better. The increased blood flow can even help heal the arch.
  • Improved flexibility While tightness can cause low flexibility, stretching the foot arch improves flexibility, making your gait easier and more efficient.
  • Pain relief Stretching can have a soothing effect on pain in the arch and the ankle and leg muscles.
  • Improved balance Stretching the arch of your foot can improve balance.
  • Reduced risk of future injury Along with strengthening exercises, stretching reduces the risk of future injury.

1. Seated Foot Stretch

Pain in the plantar fascia can be alleviated using a seated foot stretch. Here, the plantar fascia is relieved directly by stretching it. To perform the stretch, follow these steps:

  1. Sit on a chair with the affected heel over the opposite leg.
  2. Pull your toes towards your shin until you feel a moderate stretch. This will create tension in the heel.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 2–3 times.

2. Plantar Fascia Stretch

The plantar fascia stretch is useful for those who have arch pain due to plantar fasciitis. To perform one of these plantar fasciitis stretches, follow these steps:

  1. Stand against a wall.
  2. With one leg in front of the other, rest your toes against the wall. Keep your foot at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Push against the wall with the ball of your foot. Continue until you feel the tension in your arch and calf.
  4. Hold this position for about 30 seconds before relaxing. Switch to the other foot and repeat.
  5. Repeat the stretch 2–3 times daily.

3. Crouch Stretch

The crouch stretch addresses any pain in the arch of the foot. Here's how to perform the exercise.

  1. Begin by crouching on the floor, yoga mat, or carpet. Ensure you’re supporting your body weight with the balls of your feet. Keep the backs of your heels pointing up throughout your stretch.
  2. Without lifting your feet, lean forward to place your hands and knees on the floor. Your buttocks should be just above your heels.
  3. Lean forward until you feel the stretch in your arch. Hold the position for 15–30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 2–4 times daily.

4. Stair Stretch

Apart from stretching your arch, the stair stretch also stretches your calf muscles, increasing flexibility. You'll need a low step for this stretch. Here’s how to perform the exercise:

  1. While standing on the edge of the step, lower your heels so that they hang over the edge of the step. Find something to hold on to for support.
  2. Lower your heels until you feel a slight stretch in your arch and calf.
  3. Hold your position for 15–30 seconds before raising your heels back up.
  4. Repeat 2–4 times daily.

5. Loop Stretch

The loop stretch is effective at relieving arch pain. Here's how to perform the stretch:

  1. Sit on the floor or a mat with your leg stretched out in front of you.
  2. Loop a towel around the ball of your foot, holding it at each end.
  3. Using the towel, pull your foot towards your body until you feel a stretch in your arch.
  4. Hold the position for 15–30 seconds before relaxing.
  5. Repeat 2–3 times per foot for maximum relief.

6. Towel Scrunch

The towel scrunch is very helpful in improving the foot flexibility, stretching the foot, and maintaining foot range of motion. To perform the stretch, follow these steps:

  1. While seated on a chair, place your feet over a towel.
  2. Using your toes, scrunch the towel towards you, lifting your heels. You should feel a stretch in your arch.
  3. Return to starting position.
  4. Repeat up to 10 times or as much as your pain allows.

7. Marble Pick-up

The marble pick-up works in the same way as the towel scrunch, helping to improve foot flexibility, maintain the range of motion of foot joints, and stretch the arch all at once. To perform the stretch, follow these steps:

  1. Begin in a sitting position with some marbles and a cup on the floor in front of your feet.
  2. One at a time, use your toes to lift the marbles from the floor and into the cup.
  3. Repeat at least 10 times on each foot.