Foot Strain

By Joe Stubits, PTA

What is a Strain in Your Foot?

When an injury occurs to muscles and tendons as a result of being pulled or stretched too far it is described as a strain. Muscle and tendon strains occur more frequently in the legs and lower back versus in the upper body. In the foot, the peroneal tendons are often strained when the foot turns or twists inwards and roll under the leg. The peroneal tendons serve to stabilize and protect the foot and ankle. Other common ways to strain your foot are landing hard on your foot forcing in upward towards your shin, too much running on an inclined surface, and incorrect footwear or running mechanics.

Meet our Team of Foot and Ankle Doctors.

runner experiencing foot strain

Runner experiencing foot strain.


To learn about the Muscles of the Foot, this ARTICLE may help.

How do You Treat a Strained Foot?

 RICE method

  • REST your foot to allow for enough time to heal so that you can return to normal activities safely as directed by your healthcare provider
  • ICE your foot for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed by your healthcare provider. Ice can help prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • COMPRESSION can also aid with reducing swelling. You can ask your healthcare provider how to wrap an elastic band around your foot.
  • ELEVATE your foot above the level of your heart to also help with reducing swelling. Support your foot on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.


  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can be used to help with swelling and pain.
  • Acetaminophen can also be used to help with the pain.
  • Physical Therapy – Your healthcare provider may recommend Physical Therapy to help recover from a foot strain. Physical Therapy can teach you exercises to improve strength, range of motion, function, and reduce pain in your foot.

Surgery on the Foot 

If your foot strain is severe, surgical intervention may be required to repair damaged tissues

image of anatomy of muscles and tendons of the foot

Strains to Muscles and Tendons of the foot

How Long Does a Strained Foot Take to Heal?

Foot strains vary in severity. The severity of the stain will influence the healing time.

  • First-degree strain – a mild strain when only a few muscle fibers are damaged. The injured area is tender and painful but has normal strength. Healing time can take up to two weeks.
  • Second-degree strain – a moderate strain with a greater number of injured fibers. There is more severe tenderness and muscle pain. Also, there is some mild swelling, some loss of strength, and a bruise that may develop. Healing time can take four days to three months.
  • Third-degree strain – this strain tears the muscle all the way through. There is a total loss of muscle function. Healing time can take three weeks to six months.

What’s Difference Between Foot Strain and Foot Sprain?

Strains and sprains occur by the stretching of tissue beyond its functional capacity. The difference between a strain and a sprain is the type of tissue.  A strain involves a tendon and/or muscle and a sprain involves a ligament.

How Can I Prevent a Foot Strain?

  • Proper shoes/ footwear- If you are a runner, make sure to replace your old running shoes with new ones often. Use special shoe inserts or arch supports to fix leg or foot problems and improve mechanics.
  • Do warm-up and cool down exercises-Stretch before you workout or participate in sports activities to help prepare tissues for activity. This will help loosen your muscles and prevent injury. Cool down and stretch after your workout.
  • Do strengthening exercises- Strengthening exercises can help keep your muscles flexible and strong. Building strength can help stabilize your ankle and prevent injury.
  • Progress slowly and safely with your exercise or sports training program- Slowly increase the time, distance, and intensity of your exercises. Sudden increases in how often or how intensely you exercise may cause injury.
  • To schedule for physical therapy, please call 904-858-7045.
  • Related Video:  Best Ankle Exercises 

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What Do I Do if My Foot Still Hurts after a Strain?

If you hurt your foot, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute is here to help.  JOI has the top foot & Ankle experts in Northeast Florida and they are here to help you because there are foot and ankle symptoms that you should not ignore.  Let JOI get you on the road to recovery!

To schedule an appointment, call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below.

Book An Appointment with a JOI Physician

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By: Joe Stubits, PTA 

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