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This yoga pose will help relieve sore feet and ankles

If you walk or run a lot, this stretch is a must.
Woman stretching on bright background
TODAY Illustration / Stephanie Mansour

If you walk or run often, stretching your feet and ankles is really important in preventing injury or pain. Plus, it can help improve mobility in these regions. But our feet and ankles are often a body part that we neglect.

The broken toe pose is a simple yoga move that helps relieve pain from sore feet or ankles.

Research suggests that plantar fascia stretching — the stretching done while performing the broken toe pose — helps reduce foot pain. So, if your feet hurt or you’re looking to prevent overuse injury, incorporate the broken toe pose into your stretching routine.

What does the broken toe pose do for the body?

The broken toe pose stretches the feet and calves while strengthening the ankles. This move also helps improve mobility in the feet and ankles.

I usually recommend this stretch to my clients who walk or run a lot during their workouts. I find that a lot of my clients go through full body stretching routines without incorporating a stretch that targets the feet. The broken toe pose will help you loosen up any tight muscles in the feet and prevent future injury.

The common mistakes people make when doing the broken toe pose

A lot of my clients tend to think that the broken toe pose requires you to place all of your weight on the tips of your toes. That’s not the case and can even lead to injury. There’s a specific position that the pose requires, and it’s important to understand how to comfortably get into that position.

In order to avoid common mistakes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure you’re resting on the balls of your feet, not your toes.
  • Keep your heels and knees together or open them as wide as your hips. Make sure they both are aligned.
  • Place your hands on the floor in front of you if you feel off balance.

How to do a modified broken toe pose

If you’re feeling too much pressure on your feet while performing this pose, you’re not alone. The stretch can feel really intense. That’s why there are several variations you can try. I recommend supporting your knees with a cushion or higher surface to improve balance and relieve pressure.

Find an elevated surface or stack a few cushions that you can rest your knees on. Bend your knees and rest your weight on the balls of your feet. Use the cushion to lean forward for balance. This surface will also help you distribute your weight more evenly.

How to perform the broken toe pose correctly

After a long walk or day on your feet, the broken toe pose is my go-to foot and ankle stretch. If you’re feeling up to giving it a try, follow these five steps:

  1. Start on the ground on your hands and knees.
  2. Lift your feet and tuck your toes under so that they are pressing on the mat.
  3. Sit back on your heels so that you are resting your weight on the balls of your feet, not the tips of your toes.
  4. Place your hands on your thighs and rest your butt on your heels.
  5. Try to keep your back straight and look forward.

4 exercises that will help you perform the broken toe pose

There are a variety of moves meant to stretch your feet and ankles. If the broken toe pose feels too difficult, try these moves.


Lie on your stomach with your palms on the ground underneath your chest. Rest the tops of your feet on the ground behind you. Slowly lift your chest off the floor, raising your thighs a few inches into the air. Keep the tops of your feet on the ground.

Ankle circles

Sit on a chair and cross your right foot over your left knee. Begin moving your right foot in circles to the left and then switch to right. You can also try drawing the alphabet with your foot. Switch feet after completing 10 circles in both directions.

Towel stretch

Sit on the ground with your feet straight out in front of you. Sit up straight and wrap a towel around the bottom of both of feet, holding one end of the towel in each hand. Gently pull the towel toward you until you feel a stretch in your feet and calves.

Standing calf stretch

Stand in front of a wall and place one foot in front of you with your toes pointed up against the surface. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your calf and foot. Hold for 30 seconds before switching feet.

More ways to master the move