Active Recovery

‘I’m a Nike Master Trainer and Running Coach, and This Is What I Do To Soothe Foot Pain’

Tehrene Firman

Photo: Stocksy/Ivan Gener

Foot pain is impossible to ignore. “There’s nothing worse,” says Traci Copeland, a Nike master trainer and running coach. “It’s the most uncomfortable thing, and you feel it even when you’re not working out.” To deal with foot pain, Copeland stretches regularly with a few highly targeted movements.

Unlike other areas of the body that get stretched out regularly, feet are often overlooked. “We warm up everything else, but we don’t focus on our feet enough,” she says. Aside from these simple stretches warming up your body from the ground up and combating foot pain, she says they’re also great for injury prevention, tightness, and cramping. Really everything your feet could ever want.

With some extra attention, your feet will be in the best possible place to carry you through your day, whether you’re running errands or logging some miles on your favorite trail. So take the time to give your feet the attention they deserve.

The 4 best stretches for foot pain

1. Tiptoe walk

According to Copeland, this stretch is providing ankle stability and toe flexion. “It’s also working and warming up your arches and getting your body in proper posture alignment,” she says.

  1. Start standing at the edge of your mat.
  2. Rise high up on your tippy-toes, like you’re in high heels, and stay tall as you tiptoe to the edge of your mat.
  3. Turn around and tiptoe back to your starting position.
  4. Continue going back and forth for 30 seconds.

2. Heel walk

Aside from stretching out your feet, the heel walk benefits other areas of your body, too. “This also stretches out your calves and Achilles,” Copeland says. “Your Achilles tends to get pretty tight, whether you’re a runner or a power athlete.”

  1. Start standing at the edge of your mat.
  2. Transfer your weight to your heels.
  3. Staying nice and tall, walk to the edge of your mat on your heels. Your hips will naturally press back a little.
  4. Turn around and heel walk back to your starting position.
  5. Continue going back and forth for 30 seconds.

3. Toe flexion

This isn’t just stretching your feet. “It’s also stretching out your hamstrings,” Copeland says.

  1. Step your right foot about a foot in front of your body.
  2. Slightly bending your left leg, hinge forward so your back is at a 90-degree angle. Both feet should be parallel so your toes aren’t turned out.
  3. Stabilize yourself by putting your left hand on your right thigh, allowing your left forearm to rest across your thighs.
  4. Use your right hand to pull your right toes toward you as much as you can.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.

4. Kneeling hamstring stretch

Copeland says this hamstring stretch has an added benefit: providing toe flexion in your back foot.

  1. Lower down onto your left knee with your right leg in front of you a 90-degree angle. Your back foot should be flexed (versus flat) on the ground.
  2. Straighten your right leg, resting your heel on the mat.
  3. Bend forward with your hands resting on the mat, stretching your hamstring.
  4. Slowly sit your hips back, giving you an even deeper stretch in your foot.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.

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