The flexor digitorum longus muscle can contribute to pain in the bottom of the foot, including the four small toes, the ball of the foot and the arch. Pain can also extend into the heel and up into the back of the lower leg.

What are the pain and symptoms associated with the flexor digitorum longus muscle?

  • Pain in the foot while walking
  • Pain in the ball of the foot which extends to the four small toes
  • Pain can continue to the bottom of the foot and radiate up into the back of the leg
  • Can cause foot cramps
  • Contributes to the development of hammer toe and claw toe

Where is the flexor digitorum longus muscle?

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 the flexor digitorum longus control?

  • It bends the four small toes downward
  • It helps you bend the foot downward and point your toes
  • It helps move the body forward
  • It helps maintain balance

Activities that cause flexor digitorum longus pain and symptoms:

  • Running or walking on uneven ground
  • Worn shoes
  • Walking or running barefoot in deep sand
  • Wearing flip flops

Flexor Digitorum Longus Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

The flexor digitorum longus bends the four small toes downward, helps bend the foot down and helps point the toes.

Interesting facts about the flexor digitorum longus muscles:

  • Pain in the soles of the feet and bottom of the toes are often blamed on bad 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.

Clinical diagnoses to which the flexor digitorum longus symptoms may contribute:

  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome
  • Claw toes
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Plantar wart
  • Gout
  • L5 or S1 radiculopathy
  • Hammer toe
  • Peripheral vascular disease (PVD)
  • Deep Vascular Thrombosis (DVT)

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the flexor digitorum longus muscle:

Satellite trigger points associated with the :

  • Tibialis posterior
  • Extensor digitorum longus
  • Extensor digitorum brevis

For detailed anatomy information:  Flexor Digitorum Longus Anatomy

Help with Pain Caused by the Flexor Digitorum Longus Muscle

Cold Therapy Gel for Sudden Onset Bottom of the Foot Pain

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it 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. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer.  To treat the entire flexor digitorum longus muscle, rub BioFreeze starting at the back of knee, down the calf, over the heel and into the bottom of the foot including the toes.

Hot Cold Pack For Lower Leg Treatment

CorPak Soft Comfort Hot & Cold Pack Wrap is a versatile pack that can be used to treat the lower leg, foot / ankle, as well as other areas of the body. This pack works well for the flexor digitorum longus as it will cover the length of the calf and can then be used to wrap the foot for full treatment. The pack is filled with pliable gel and has a soft frost free cover that will not irritate your skin. For recent injuries, use it cold to reduce swelling. For older injures or chronic pain use heat to relax the muscles and increase circulation.

Warm Therapy Gel to Relieve Foot and Lower Leg Pain Due To Chronically Tight Muscle

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a warming pain relieving gel that I use both personally and professionally in my massage therapy practice. Unlike other over the counter heating creams, it provides warmth without burning heat. Applying Sombra to the muscles on the back of the leg, down over the heel and covering the bottom of the foot can help reduce pain and tightness caused by the flexor digitorum longus muscle. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and pain from arthritis.

Graduated Compression Socks for Support and Recovery

Eurosocks Over The Calf Compression Socks have become a go-to for both amateur and professional athletes for lower leg, ankle and foot injury recovery. Graduated compression helps relieve pain from muscle stiffness and soreness as well as discouraging inflammation. The socks wickable fabric keeps skin dry and DryStat technology inhibits the growth of odor causing microbes. The over the calf style works very well for flexor digitorum longus muscle recovery as the sock will cover the entire muscle. If you suspect or have been treated for blood clots, consult with a doctor before using compression on the lower legs.

Massage Balls To Relieve Foot Pain

Massage balls can be used to relieve tension in many areas of the body and are exceptionally effective for your feet. I like the FlexFixx Massage Ball Set. The 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 deliver excellent results for both foot and lower leg pain.

Yoga Toes to Stretch and Relax Lower Leg and Foot Muscles

I recommend Yoga Toes Gems for many of my clients who are dealing with foot and/or 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 actually help straighten and align your toes. They can also be helpful for some cases of bunions, hammer toes, and claw toes. 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 to further massage and relax the muscles of your feet.

For Men’s shoe size 10 and over or women shoe size 12 and over consider Yoga Toes For Men

Stretch The Calf and Foot Muscles To Relieve Flexor Digitorum Longus Foot Pain

Medi-Dyne Pro Stretch for Plantar Fascitis and Calf Pain is a device that provides a deep stretch to the foot and lower leg muscles. This device is used in many physical therapists offices and rehab facilities to those who have lower leg pain and cramps and for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. When you first use the Pro Stretch be sure to start off slowly, 5 to 10 seconds per stretch, gradually building up reps and longer stretch times.

Self Treatment Tools For Rectus Femoris Pain

I recommend The Tiger Tail 18″ Roller to use on both upper and lower leg muscles to help relieve muscle tension and pain. I like the Tiger Tail for its ease of use and because it does not strain the wrists and hands. You do not have to contort into different positions or get on the floor or up against the wall to use this foam roller, simply roll it up or down the muscle. The 18″ is a good size to use on leg muscles as well as other muscles. The roller is also recommended by physical therapists, athletic trainers and doctors for self-treatment of muscles in between appointments. To use the Tiger Tail on the flexor digitorum longus muscles start just below the knee and roll down covering the back of the calf. Start with light strokes for a minute or two and build into more pressure and more time. Do not overdo as you can irritate the muscles! Consider purchasing the Magnificent Rose Massage Ball Set to roll your feet for a complete muscle treatment.

Self Treatment Technique For Lower Leg and Bottom of the Foot Pain

Do you know that small knots in the flexor digitorum longus muscles can contribute to pain in the bottom of the foot and soreness on the bottom of the foot and toes?

If you have pain in the bottom of your foot and toes, I recommend that you purchase Claire Davies The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief.. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language. But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled.His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain, how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. If you have unresolved pain in the bottom of your foot, you may want to learn about the trigger point in the flexor digitorum longus muscles which can help you resolve your pain issues. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

Tools To Treat Bottom of Foot Pain


The Thera Cane Massager is my first choice of purchase with the workbook for two reasons: First, you can easily reach the bottom of your feet without the need to bend or contort your body. Secondly, once you understand trigger points, you will find that you will want to treat other muscles and you may need help accessing the muscles. The Thera Cane allows you to easily treat all muscles of the body, including back muscles. If you have weak or arthritic hands, you may need a tool to help you use and hold the pressure required for trigger point treatment.  If you are buying the workbook, the Thera Cane is worth the investment!

The Knobble

If you are limber but have issues with pain in your hands, The Knobble works great to treat muscles in the sole of the foot. It is easily gripped and the point is nicely rounded to apply even pressure with out feeling sharp and pokey. The Knobble will also help you treat many other points throughout the body with the exception of muscles located in the back. A great tool for runners who treat foot and leg trigger points on a regular basis.

Donna Martin

Massage Therapist Owner: Twelve years of experience working with clients with chronic pain, post injury pain, and post surgery pain. Muscle dysfunction is often overlooked but can hold the key to many pain conditions.

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