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Foot Drop: How to manage foot drop with exercises

Foot drop is a condition that limits the mobility of the foot and makes walking difficult. Fortunately, there are techniques to regain foot mobility, and one of the most effective strategies is to perform foot drop exercises.

Foot drop exercises are meant to help you strengthen your lower limb muscles to lift your foot correctly again. Exercise also helps activate and remodel the brain, making it a good method to get back on your feet after a stroke or brain damage.

In this article, we will discuss some of the exercises that you can do for foot drop as we all know that this is a big issue that lots of you are facing, so it should be dealt with daily.

What is Foot Drop?

Foot drop is a gait abnormality caused by a number of injuries. These injuries include stroke or spinal cord injury. It can also result from an injury to the nerve root or peripheral nerve injury, which can cause weakness, irritation, or damage to the common peroneal nerve. Finally, it can also cause injury to the sciatic nerve or paralysis of muscles in the anterior portion of your lower leg.

You can’t move the top of your foot or toes up toward your shin in this condition. Dorsiflexion is the name for this movement, which is necessary for proper walking and balance. The brain must transmit messages to your muscles to signal when to contract and relax to move them. Foot drop can occur when a brain injury or stroke impairs the parts of the brain that send these signals.

What is the role of physical therapy in the treatment of foot drop?

Physical therapists help patients with foot drop regain mobility, strengthen the area’s muscles, and relax the tight muscles. These exercises increase your brain’s capacity to deliver the correct impulses to move your foot by rewiring it. Neuroplasticity is the name for this rewiring process, and it’s essential for foot drop recovery.

Foot Drop Exercises for Physical Therapy at Home

 Assist Heel Raises

Foot Drop: How to manage foot drop with exercises

Toe raises are the polar opposite of this vigorous foot drop exercise. Although it may not appear to aid with foot drop, it will help to strengthen the muscles in the surrounding area.

Begin with your feet flat on the ground to complete heel lifts. Then lift your heels off the ground and point your toes—rep ten times.

Ankle Dorsiflexion

Foot Drop: How to manage foot drop with exercises

For this exercise, you have to use a stretch band or towel to flex your ankle by pulling your toes toward you (dorsiflexion).
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you.
Wrap the bend or towel around your affected foot.
After that, slowly point your toes up toward you and then return to the starting position.
Do three sets of 10 flexes on each foot, three days a week.

Ankle Abduction/Adduction

For another beautiful passive foot drop exercise, you have to cross your affected leg over your other leg. Then, with your non-affected hand, move your foot’s toe up and down. (The bottom of your foot will remain perpendicular to the floor as your foot moves side to side along the ankle.)

Patients with significantly limited mobility benefit greatly from passive activities. If you’re already moving, make the exercise more challenging by completing it without using your hands (i.e., “active exercise”).

Ankle Inversion

Foot Drop: How to manage foot drop with exercises

Start in the same position as before, but raise the inside edge of your foot and toes towards your body’s midline, then relax back down.

Ankle Eversion

Place your affected foot flat on the ground. Then, raise the outside edge of your foot and toes, then relax.

Focus on starting the movement with your foot and ankle rather than your leg. Rep 10 times more.

Hip Rotation

Try this gross motor exercise for the lower limbs to round out these foot drop exercises.

Begin by placing a cloth beneath your affected foot while seated. After that, support your affected leg with your arm and slide your leg and toes towards your midline (internal rotation). Then, push your leg outwards and slide your toes outwards (external rotation).

When severe foot drop is linked with other lower limb abnormalities, these last two-foot drop exercises target the legs, which can be beneficial for patients with severe foot drop.

 Hip Abduction/Adduction

Although this exercise is designed to strengthen the leg, it can also aid with foot drop because increasing leg tone (stiffness) can affect the foot.

In a seated position, begin this lower-limb exercise. Then, with your affected leg kicking inward toward your midline, do the same (hip adduction). Then, as if you were kicking a ball to the side, kick the affected leg outward (hip abduction). Repetition is required.


  1. Mount, Julie and Dacko, Stan. ‘Effects of Dorsiflexor Endurance Exercises on Foot Drop Secondary to Multiple Sclerosis: A Pilot Study’. 1 Jan. 2006 : 43 – 50.


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Zuri Dime

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