Foot Exercises

One of the best ways to fight back against pain is to keep the joints in your feet active and moving.

Health Monitor Staff

If your feet hurt, nothing feels good! And if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), foot problems often follow. In fact, about 90% of people with RA eventually develop foot or ankle symptoms.

The good news: These exercises designed by Marnie-Laatz-Dominy, MS, an exercise physiologist, author, weight-loss coach and fitness instructor in Seattle, Washington, can help. So crank up your iPod or pop in a lively CD and do this series twice a day, morning and evening—the entire workout only takes 5 minutes! You can perform the moves seated or standing.

Heel tap

Place your right foot on the floor. Lift your heel off the floor. Tap your heel up and down 20 times. Switch to your left foot.

Toe tap
Place your right heel on the floor. Lift your toes and tap them onto the floor 20 times. Repeat with the left foot.

Hanky lifts
Place a cloth handkerchief—or any small, lightweight piece of fabric—on the floor. Put your right foot on top of the hanky and squeeze your toes together to grab the fabric and lift it off the floor. Drop the hanky. Repeat 5 times. Switch to the left foot.

Foot rolls
Find a can, bottle or other smooth, cylindrical container about 2-3 inches in diameter. Fill it with water and freeze it. Put your right foot on the cylinder and roll it forward and backward along your instep. Do 20 rolls with your right foot, then switch to your left foot. Repeat 3 times with each foot.

This move can help reduce swelling.

Toe isometrics
Squeeze all the toes on your right foot together and push them firmly against the floor. Hold the contraction for 20 seconds. Repeat with your left foot. Perform this exercise twice with each foot. 

Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen, and remember to only do the exercises to tolerance—don't do too much at once.

April 2013