I. Action** Toe extension is the action of keeping the toes straight and bringing them off the floor towards the top of the foot. With the bottom of the foot flat on the floor, the angle at the metatarsophalangeal joint is 0, the angle is increased as toe extension increases.
Increasing Range of Motion
1) Seated with dorsal aspect of the forefoot in contact with the floor gently apply weight to the dorsum of the toes.
2) Seated with one leg crossed and palmar aspect of the hand grasping the dorsum of the toes. Gently fold the toes towards the bottom of the foot stretching the extensors.
3) Standing with the dorsal aspect of the toes in contact with the floor, knee flexed, apply weight to the toes in order to “fold” them under the foot. Do not attempt to stand on fully flexed toes. Hold the stretch position for 3 sets of 30 second holds.
III. Stretching the toe extensors is indicated when full range of toe flexion cannot be reached; when one is required to fully plantar flex ankle and point toes as in ballet, and when otherwise indicated by pathology.
1) In the seated or standing position, simply lift the toes off the floor independent of the foot. To progress this exercise, alternate lifting the great toe off the floor independently of toes 2-5, then switch the action, keeping the great toe on the floor while lifting toes 2-5 off the floor.
2) Seated with a Theraband of appropriate resistance attached to a distal object, hook the theraband around the dorsum of the toes and extend toes as in “bringing the toes to the nose”. Strengthening exercises may be done in 3 sets of 10.
V. Potential Clinical Syndromes or Etiologies
2) plantar fasciitis
3) plantar fasciosis
VI. Additional web based Resources:
Videos of stretches and exercises to increase toe extension: