Exercises For Drop Foot

Submitted by Kevin Pederson on March 2, 2012

Drop foot, also known as foot drop, is a general term used to describe a condition in which the individual is unable to lift the front part of the foot. Due to the weakness of the muscles which are involved while flexing the toes and ankle, the toes sag downward and cause difficulty while walking. You could also suffer from drop foot due to nerve damage or disorders related to the spinal cord or brain.

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A heart or paralytic stroke in the past could also lead to drop foot.

Symptoms:

  • Difficulty lifting the front part of the foot, which is sometimes the only sign of drop foot
  • Dragging the foot on the floor while walking
  • Slapping the foot down onto the floor with each step
  • Raising the thigh while walking, as if climbing stairs (steppage gait)
  • Increasing pain, weakness or numbness in the foot

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is time to get medical advice. Treatment may include physical therapy or corrective surgery.


Depending on the nature and cause of drop foot, it may be temporary and can occur either in one or both feet. This could sometimes be corrected with the help of a few exercises for drop foot.

It is important that you ask for your doctor's recommendations before practicing these postures. Putting pressure on an already weakened muscle may cause more damage.

Here are a few exercises for drop foot which maybe prescribed as part of physical therapy or rehabilitation after surgery.

Foot curls:

Sit upright in a chair and position both legs parallel to the floor. Hold on to the side of the chair with your hands. Curl your toes toward your midsection and hold the position for two seconds. Uncurl your toes. Repeat this motion 10 times. Take a break and repeat the set.

Toe grip:

Sit upright on a chair, with bare feet. Grip the seat of your chair with your hands. Put a table tennis or golf ball on the ground and use your toes to try to grip the ball. If you can manage to flex your toes around it, lift it knee high and then put it back on the floor. Repeat this motion 10 times. This will improve dexterity of your feet and toes.

Calf raises:

Calf raises help you build strength in your feet, toes and ankles. Start from a standing position and try to raise yourself up on your tiptoes. Remember that you are doing this without any support, so go slow. Try to do two sets of 20 toe raises. Achieving this could take three to four days.

For people who prefer Yoga, there are many Yoga exercises for drop foot. The gentle stretching action of Yoga would help strengthen the calf and leg muscles, improve flexibility and restore balance. The low impact activity could help relieve stress from pinched nerves or muscles. Ensure that you practice these poses under a qualified instructor who would adjust the intensity of the poses to suit your condition.

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