Towel Curl Foot Strengthening Exercise

The towel curl (also called the toe curl) is an excellent foot strengthening exercise. It stretches and flexes the foot to improve balance, support the arches of your feet, and increase overall foot strength. Physical therapists often recommend it for people with plantar fasciitis, because increasing the foot's flexibility helps with heel pain and stiffness.

What You Need 

You will need a small towel or an exercise band. You will need a chair or bench to sit on. You can do this exercise anywhere that you can sit with your feet flat on the floor. It's easier to do on a hard surface, such as wood or tile, rather than carpeting.


Starting Position

  1. Smooth the towel or band out and place one foot on it, flat. You are going to be moving the towel toward yourself, so have extra fabric in front of your foot. If using a band, place it parallel to your feet and stretch it out long in front of you so your toes have something to grab onto.
  2. Sit on a chair with your heels under your knees.
  3. Make sure your legs and feet are parallel to each other with the toes pointing forward.

Extend Your Foot

  1. Keeping your heel down, lift your toes and flex your foot back.
  2. Leave your heel in place on the towel as you reach out evenly along both sides and the middle of your foot to get your foot to land on the towel, as far out as you can.

Curl Your Foot to Grasp and Pull the Towel

  1. Keeping the heel still, pull the towel toward you by scooping it in with your arch and toes.
  2. Use both sides of your foot (all five toes) and try to create a deep dome under the arch area. You will only get a little bit of the towel to move each time you extend and pull back. You might have to take a break to smooth the towel or band after a few reps.
  3. Repeat the move at least 5 times, and then repeat with the other foot. You can do this exercise daily or even several times a day.

Variations of the Towel Curl Exercise

Add a Weight: Once you have mastered the toe curl, you can increase the challenge of the exercise by adding a small weighted object to the far end of the towel. Start with a lighter weight, such as four to six ounces. You can use any of ​the cosmetics that you have handy. To increase the weight, try a small can of soup. Once you have mastered that weight, go for a larger can.

Towel Push: In the opposite motion of the towel curl, now push the towel forward by curling and uncurling your toes. Again, keep your heels on the floor so it isn't your ankle or heel dong any of the work.

Arch Lifting: Try the arch lifting exercise, another foot strengthener. You can do it while sitting or standing.

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