Foot Drop Exercises: Get Back on Your Feet with Confidence

Foot Drop Exercises

Imagine a life where each step you take is filled with confidence and strength, and the simple act of walking is a testament to your resilience and determination. If you or someone you know is grappling with a foot drop, a condition that hinders the natural movement of your foot, then this blog post is your beacon of hope.


Get ready to take that first step towards regaining control over your activities and unleashing a newfound sense of freedom. It’s time to rise above foot drop and embark on an extraordinary adventure towards reclaiming your mobility. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

Physical therapy exercises can help manage foot drop and improve strength and function. Here are some effective at-home physical therapy exercises for foot drop:

Hip External and Internal Rotation

Hip external and internal rotation exercises can benefit individuals with foot drop. These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles around the hip joint, which can help improve foot and ankle control during walking and other activities.


The significance of hip external and internal rotation exercises for foot drop lies in their ability to address the underlying muscle imbalances and weakness contributing to the condition. By targeting the hip muscles, such as the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, and deep external rotators, these exercises can enhance stability, improve gait mechanics, and promote better foot control.


The technique for performing hip external and internal rotation exercises can vary, but here are a few examples:

1. Standing Hip External Rotation

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and place a resistance band around both ankles.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent and maintain an upright posture.
  • Slowly rotate one leg outward, away from the body’s midline, against the band’s resistance.
  • Hold the position briefly, then return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, then switch to the other leg.

2. Supine Hip Internal Rotation

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Place a small ball or cushion between your knees.
  • Squeeze the ball or cushion using your inner thigh muscles, causing your knees to move closer together.
  • Hold the contraction for a few seconds, then release and repeat.

Hip Rotation Slides

These exercises aim to improve hip mobility and strengthen the hip muscles, which can help compensate for the lack of foot dorsiflexion. Here’s how you can perform hip rotation slides for foot drop:


  • Begin by sitting on the edge of a chair or a stable surface with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Keep your back straight and engage your core muscles to maintain good posture throughout the exercise.
  • Start with one leg at a time. Lift your affected leg slightly off the ground, keeping the foot relaxed.
  • Slowly rotate your hip inward, as if you were trying to bring your knee towards the opposite leg. It should be a controlled and gentle movement.
  • Hold the inward rotation for a few seconds and then slowly rotate your hip outward, moving your knee away from the opposite leg.
  • Repeat the inward and outward rotation of the hip for about 10 to 15 repetitions.
  • Switch to the other leg and perform the same exercise.


Perform 2 to 3 sets of hip rotation slides on each leg, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as you become more comfortable with the movement.


  • Start with small movements and gradually increase the range of motion as you gain strength and flexibility.
  • Avoid any movements that cause pain or discomfort. The exercise should be challenging but not painful.
  • Focus on engaging the hip muscles during the rotation rather than relying solely on momentum.
  • You can use your hands to assist in the movement by gently guiding the knee inward and outward.
Foot Drop Exercises

Single Leg Stance

By practicing single-leg stance, foot drop patients can work on several essential aspects:


Balance and Stability: The exercise challenges the patient to maintain their balance on one leg, which helps strengthen the muscles responsible for stability. Improved balance can prevent falls and enhance confidence during daily activities.


Strengthening the Affected Leg: During a single-leg stance, the muscles in the affected leg and ankle are engaged to maintain balance. Regular practice can help strengthen these muscles, which may have weakened due to foot drop.


Here’s how to perform a single-leg stance exercise:


  • Find a sturdy chair or countertop to hold onto for support.
  • Stand facing the chair or countertop, keeping it within reach.
  • Lift one foot off the ground, bending the knee to a comfortable position.
  • The non-standing leg can be slightly lifted, bent, or kept straight, depending on the patient’s ability and comfort.
  • Focus on maintaining your balance while keeping your core muscles engaged.
  • Avoid leaning or tilting to one side.
  • Start with a few seconds of balance and gradually increase the duration as your strength improves.


If needed, you can lightly touch the chair or countertop for support but try to gradually decrease reliance on it as you gain stability.

Ankle Dorsiflexion

Foot Drop Exercises

Ankle dorsiflexion is a significant movement that allows the foot to lift toward the shin. It is crucial for normal walking because it helps clear the foot during the swing phase of the gait cycle. In individuals with foot drop, ankle dorsiflexion is often compromised, leading to difficulty lifting the foot and toes off the ground while walking.


Here are different ways to do it:

1. Towel Scrunches

  • Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place a small towel on the ground in front of your feet.
  • Using only your toes, scrunch the towel towards you, gripping it with your toes.
  • Hold the contraction for a few seconds once you have pulled the towel as far as possible.
  • Release and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of towel scrunches.

2. Ankle Alphabet

  • Sit on a chair or lie down on your back.
  • Extend one leg in front of you, keeping the knee straight.
  • Imagine your big toe is a pen, and “write” the alphabet in the air.
  • Move your ankle and foot to draw each letter of the alphabet.
  • Perform the exercise slowly and with control.
  • Repeat with the other foot.
  • Aim to complete the entire alphabet for each foot.

3. Heel and Toe Walks

  • Find a clear and safe space to walk a few steps.
  • Start by walking on your heels only, lifting your toes off the ground.
  • Take slow and controlled steps, focusing on keeping your balance.
  • After a few steps, switch to walking on your toes with your heels lifted off the ground.
  • Continue alternating between heel and toe walks for several rounds.

Toe Raise “Negatives”

Physical therapy exercises are essential in improving the affected muscles’ strength, flexibility, and coordination to address foot drop. One exercise that can be beneficial is called “toe raise negatives.” Here’s how you can perform this exercise:


  • Sit on a stable chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Place your hands on your thighs or hold onto the sides of the chair for support.
  • Lift both feet off the ground so that only your heels touch the floor.
  • Slowly lower your toes toward the ground while keeping your heels raised.
  • Control the movement and resist the foot from dropping too quickly.
  • Repeat this movement several times, aiming for 10-15 repetitions per set.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of this exercise daily.


The purpose of toe raise negatives is to strengthen the muscles responsible for lifting the front part of the foot, such as the anterior tibialis muscle. By gradually lowering the toes, you engage these muscles eccentrically, which can help improve their strength and function over time.

Ankle Eversion and Inversion

These techniques aim to improve the control and function of the ankle and foot, facilitating a more natural and functional gait pattern. Here’s a breakdown of their significance, technique, and frequency of practice:

Ankle Eversion

  • To perform ankle eversion:
  • Sit on a chair with your feet flat.
  • Slowly turn the soles of your feet outward as if you were trying to point your toes away from each other.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.


It is recommended to perform ankle eversion exercises two to three times daily, with a target of 10 to 15 repetitions per session. However, the frequency and repetitions may vary depending on individual needs and the guidance of a healthcare professional or physical therapist.

Ankle Inversion

  • Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  • Slowly turn the soles of your feet inward as if you were trying to point your big toes toward each other.
  • Hold the position for a few seconds.
  • Return to the starting position.


Similar to ankle eversion, ankle inversion exercises are typically performed two to three times a day. Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions per session or as a healthcare professional or physical therapist advises.

Bottom Line

Improvements in foot and lower-extremity mobility may be achieved by continuous, regular exercise that “rewires” the brain. In addition to foot drop exercises, patients might benefit from various methods, such as electrical stimulation, balance, and walking rehabilitation, to expedite their rehabilitation. Patients with significant foot drop have many treatment options, including passive exercise, progressive strengthening, and eventual AFO or surgical intervention.


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