Professional and recreational athletes depend on strong foot and ankle muscles for speed, balance and agility. The flexor digitorum longus muscle begins in the lower leg, crosses your ankle, then splits into four tendons -- one running to each toe (excluding your big toe). These tendons bend your toes and assist other muscles with ankle plantarflexion -- pointing your foot down toward the floor. Strengthen your flexor digitorum longus muscle to improve balance and performance, and reduce risk of injury.
Perform active range of motion exercises to strengthen your flexor digitorum longus muscle. Sit with your legs out in front of you with bare feet. Draw the alphabet in the air, leading with your toes. Repeat two to three times with each foot, then switch sides.
Marble pickup activities strengthen your flexor digitorum longus muscle. Sit in a chair and place a handful of marbles on the floor in front of you. With a bare foot, pick up one marble with your toes. Collect the marbles in a bowl or move them from one spot to another. Perform this exercise for two to three minutes with each foot.
Perform towel curls to strengthen your toe flexors. Sit in a chair and place a small towel on the floor in front of your foot. Scrunch the towel under your toes, pulling it in toward you. Repeat until you reach the end of the towel, spread it back out and repeat two to three times with each foot.
Standing Calf Raises
Perform standing calf raises to strengthen your flexor digitorum longus muscle. Stand on a flat surface next to a stable object or wall to maintain your balance. Raise up on your toes and hold this position for three seconds. Perform 10 repetitions and work up to three sets in a row. Advance this exercise by performing calf raises standing on only one leg.
Aubrey Bailey has been writing health-related articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science in physical therapy and Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University at Buffalo, as well as a post-professional Doctor of Physical Therapy from Utica College. Dr. Bailey is also a certified hand therapist.