Metatarsalgia Exercises & Stretches for Pain Relief

Person rolling black massage ball under foot

Stretches & Strengthening Exercises for Metatarsalgia

Metatarsalgia makes being on your feet painful, getting in the way of daily activities. Exercises that target your lower leg, feet, and toes can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. When used with PowerStep® orthotic insoles, metatarsalgia exercises can be an important part of your treatment plan. Try the following stretches and exercises to relieve your pain and get back on your feet.

Treating Metatarsalgia & Ball of Foot Pain

For some runners and athletes, ball of foot pain from a condition called metatarsalgia is common. Metatarsalgia happens when there is too much stress on the ball of the foot either from high impact activities, wearing the wrong shoes, or foot structure like having high arches. Metatarsalgia can make walking and standing painful.

See a doctor before treating ball of foot pain at home, since it could also be a result of a stress fracture. Treatment options for metatarsalgia usually include resting, applying ice, and wearing metatarsalgia insoles or shoe inserts. PowerStep offers the best insoles for metatarsalgia with clinically proven arch support that reduces stress on the metatarsal bones to relieve pain and improve foot function.

Man placing blue orthotic insole for metatarsalgia in black shoe

Certain foot stretches can also help minimize your pain and reduce symptoms. Incorporating daily massages, stretches, and exercises into your routine stimulates healing by increasing blood flow to your feet and toes. Metatarsalgia exercises and stretches give you better foot flexibility, improved balance, and greater range of motion.


Will Stretching Help Metatarsalgia?

Basic stretches for metatarsalgia help improve flexibility of the foot and ankle by loosening up stiff joints and muscles in your toe, arch, and lower leg. PowerStep has stretching and support devices to make this easier. If you have too stiff of an arch, you may also want to try additional stretches for plantar fasciitis. Try the following three metatarsalgia stretches:

Woman stretching feet and toes

Toe Pumps 

This stretch improves circulation to your toes and loosens stiff joints. It is a stretch you can do sitting down with your legs out straight on the floor, a bed, or in a chair.

  1. Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you and your heels on the floor.
  2. Bend your toes in and flex them out, moving your foot back and forth with each count.
  3. Repeat 20 times on both feet for 2 to 3 sets.

      Toe Flexor

      This stretch targets the sore tendons that cross the ball of the foot and can also help reduce pain from foot deformities like hammertoe.

      1. Sit in a chair with one foot resting over the knee of your other leg.
      2. Use the palm of your hand as support as you bend your toes out toward your shin.
      3. You should feel the stretch in the bottom of your foot. Hold for 30 seconds.
      4. Repeat 15 times for 2 to 3 sets on each foot.

            Calf Stretches

            Calf stretches for ball of foot pain relieve stiffness in your calf muscles and ankles. They can be performed standing in front of a wall, such as a wall stretch, or sitting, as described below. Some discomfort should be expected.

            1. Sit on the floor or a bed with your legs straight out.
            2. Wrap an exercise band or towel around the ball of your foot with one end in each hand.
            3. With your knees straight, gently pull your toes toward your body.
            4. You should feel a stretch at the back of your ankle. Hold for 30 seconds.
            5. Repeat 5 times for 2 to 3 sets on each leg.

                    Person performing sitting calf stretch with blue exercise band

                    Strengthening Exercises

                    What Exercises are Good for Metatarsalgia?

                    Your level of pain may determine the type of exercise for metatarsalgia that is best for you. Exercises for metatarsalgia help reduce symptoms while strengthening the muscles of the foot and lower leg to prevent reoccurrence. Check out the following basic exercises for ball of foot pain from metatarsalgia:

                    Woman standing with heel raised on toes on floor

                    Toe Raises

                    If you have too much pain in the ball of your foot, you may want to wait to perform this exercise until that pain lessens.

                    1. Stand up straight next to a wall or chair.
                    2. Slowly lift your heels off the ground, shifting your weight to the balls of your feet.
                    3. Hold for a few seconds, then gradually lower your heels back down.
                    4. Repeat 15 times for 2 to 3 sets.

                          Two people performing toe raise exercise for metatarsalgia

                          Towel Scrunches

                          This exercise builds strength in the muscles that help stabilize your arch and improves motion control in your toes.

                          1. Stand or sit with your bare foot on top of a towel.
                          2. Use your toes only to pull the towel under your foot without lifting your heels.
                          3. Repeat 15 times for 2 to 3 sets on each foot.

                              Marble Lift

                              You can perform this exercise with either a cup of marbles or a cup of some other small item like almonds. This exercise improves muscle coordination for those with metatarsal pain.

                              1. Scatter the marbles on the floor in front of where you are sitting.
                              2. Place the cup on the ground within reach.
                              3. Using your toes, pick up one marble at a time and return it to the cup.
                              4. Once you have picked up all the marbles with one foot, repeat the exercise with your other foot.

                                    Other Exercises for Metatarsalgia

                                    There are a few home remedies for metatarsalgia you can do to relieve pain and reduce symptoms. Massaging the affected area increases blood flow for better healing. With either a tennis ball or a golf ball, roll the item under your foot along your arch for two minutes. You can also perform this with a frozen plastic water bottle to help reduce swelling.

                                    Person rolling tennis ball under foot

                                    Is it OK to Exercise with Metatarsalgia?

                                    While the strengthening exercises for metatarsalgia above can help relieve pain, you should avoid high impact activities that put excess stress on your feet during recovery. This includes running and jumping sports. For those with an abnormal arch, avoid exercising while barefoot and instead wear the right insoles for flat feet or insoles for high arches to provide proper support.

                                    Whether you're returning to the track or trying to prevent ball of foot pain, consider wearing an insole that supports your metatarsals and your daily activities. PowerStep PULSE® Plus Met is a running shoe insole that relieves ball of foot pain and absorbs shock to reduce stress on your feet, ankles, and joints. We also offer PowerStep Plus Met for your everyday shoes as well as ball of foot cushions for additional comfort where it’s needed.

                                    Man placing orange running shoe insole into gray tennis shoe

                                    Get back on your feet pain free with the support and relief of PowerStep combined with helpful stretches and strengthening exercises for metatarsalgia.


                                    Metatarsalgia - Diagnosis and treatment - Mayo Clinic. (n.d.).

                                    Health, V. (n.d.). Metatarsalgia Stretches & Exercises. Vive Health.

                                    Foot and Ankle Conditioning Program - OrthoInfo - AAOS. (2012).