The flexor digitorum longus is a deep muscle in the back of the lower leg, running down the leg to connect at bottom of the foot. 

The muscle contributes to pain in the ball of the foot that extends into the four small toes. Pain can also occur in the heel and radiate up into the calf. It is also a contributor to hammertoe and claw toes. 

Contents of Article

    Where Is The Flexor Digitorum Longus Muscle?

    Flexor Digitorum Longus Muscle Showing Trigger Point Location

    It lies along the back of the large bone (tibia) of the lower leg. The muscle tendon wraps around the inside of the heel and connects to the bottom of the four small toes (distal phalanges of the four lateral toes).

    What Movements Does It Control?

    • It bends the four small toes downward
    • It helps you bend the foot downward and point your toes

    For detailed anatomy information: Flexor Digitorum Longus Anatomy


    Flexor Digitorum Longus Muscle Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Flexor Digitorum Longus Referred Pain Pattern
    • Constant pain in the ball of the foot extending to the four small toes when walking
    • The pain may go into the heel and radiate up into the back of the leg
    • Can cause foot cramps
    • Contributes to the development of hammertoe and claw toe

    TWD Recommends

    Neo G Medical Grade VCS Calf Support/Shin Splint provides support and warmth to the lower leg muscles. This brace is recommended for Achilles tendon strain, sprain, and overuse injuries of the lower leg muscles. An excellent choice for compression and support of calf muscles. If you suspect or have ever been diagnosed with blood clots, consult your doctor before using this brace.

    What Causes Flexor Digitorum Longus Trigger Points To Develop?

    • Running or walking on uneven ground
    • Worn shoes that collapse to the inside or outside
    • Walking or running barefoot in deep sand
    • Wearing flip flops

    TWD Recommends

    Yoga Toes Gems are highly recommended for anyone dealing with foot and lower leg pain. The separators not only stretch the muscles of the feet but also many muscles of the lower leg. Used regularly, Yoga Toes do help straighten and align your toes. They can also be helpful for some cases of bunions, hammertoes, and claw toes. It can also help with issues of plantar fasciitis. I prefer the Yoga Toes Gems because they are more supple, comfortable, and easier to use. To increase therapeutic treatment, relax while wearing Yoga Toes and then use the massage balls (below) to further massage and relax the muscles of your feet.

    For Men’s shoe size ten and over or women's shoe size 12 and over consider Yoga Toes For Men.

    Flexor Digitorum Longus Trigger Point Treatment

    If you treat the pain in the foot and do not treat the trigger points in the flexor digitorum longus, your pain will increase over time. The trigger point that refers pain into the foot is found in the calf below the knee and will need to be deactivated to relieve your discomfort.

    You can learn to treat this TrP along with others that contribute to foot pain. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is one of the best resources to show you how to find and treat trigger point pain throughout the body. If you are interested in learning how to treat muscle pain, this book should be in your library.

    Another option is to find a massage therapist, physical therapist, athletic trainer, or chiropractor trained in trigger point therapy. They can show you how to find and treat the TrP as well as suggest exercises and stretches that will help strengthen the muscle.

    Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. If you have reoccurring leg or foot cramps, you should keep Somba on hand. It provides almost instant relief. (Not sold in stores)

    Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain-relieving gel recommend for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. If your pain is from a recent injury, use Biofreeze. It is excellent to use on sprains, strained and sore ankles.

    How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

    The good news is that you will begin feeling relief quickly. Keep in mind that if you are experiencing toe-curling foot cramps, massaging this TrP will relax the muscle and stop the cramp.

    You need to continue treating the trigger point until you do not feel the knot and the area is not painful when pressure is applied.

    Interesting facts:

    • Pain in the soles of the feet and bottom of the toes is blamed on ill-fitting shoes, flat feet, or gout. This pain is often due to the long flexors of the toes.
    • Wearing flip-flops or any other open-heeled shoe can irritate the flexor muscles of the foot are over-worked because the toes curl to grip the shoe each step.

    TWD Recommends

    Sore shins or calves? Feel as if shin splints are coming on? The ProStretch Calf Stretcher & Foot Rocker can help! The stretcher/rocker stretches and helps to relax most of the muscles in the lower leg and foot. Used by physical therapists to treat sore shins and calves as well as foot pain and plantar fasciitis.

    Flexor digitorum longus muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:

    • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
    • Claw toes
    • Hammer toe
    • Plantar fasciitis
    • Plantar wart
    • Gout
    • Ankle sprain/strain
    • Gastrocnemius or Soleus strain/trigger points
    • L5 or S1 radiculopathy
    • Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
    • Deep Vascular Thrombosis (DVT)


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the flexor digitorum longus muscle:

    Trigger points in the muscle will cause TrPs to develop in other muscles. These are known as satellite trigger points. You will need to check these muscles for additional TrPs.

    • Tibialis posterior
    • Extensor digitorum longus
    • Extensor digitorum brevis


    TWD Recommends

    Massage balls can be used to relieve tension in many areas of the body and are exceptionally effective for your feet. The Flex Fixx Massage Ball Set includes a smooth ball and two spiked balls, which will give you maximum treatment for various aches and pains in your feet. The balls are sturdy and can deliver very firm pressure. The set comes with instructions and exercises. Rolling your feet takes just a few minutes each day and can provide excellent results for both foot and lower leg pain.

    Muscles With Similar Pain Patterns

    Soleus Muscle
    Tibialis Posterior