#1 Guide to Flexor Digitorum Pain Relief

What is the flexor digitorum longus?

The flexor digitorum longus is a muscle located on the backside of both lower legs, deep below the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. It is on the medial (inner) side of the tibia bone. The role of the flexor digitorum longus is to flex the second, third, fourth and fifth toes at the distal, proximal and meta-tarso phalangeal joints. This means that the muscle allows you to bend at all the joints within your toes – but not your big toe. The flexor digitorum longus muscle also assists with plantarflexion at the ankle, which is the movement of placing your foot on your floor as you walk. 

During walking or running, this muscle keeps the toes pointed downwards to assist with grip and thrust during the ‘toe off’ part of the gait cycle. In standing, the muscle assists with keeping the toes gripping the ground, helping us maintain our balance. This function is especially important on uneven surfaces. 

Medial and posterior surface of the tibia.The plantar surface at the base of the distal phalanges 2-5.

Causes of flexor digitorum longus pain 

  • Poor footwear choices such as slippers or flip flops or ill-fitting shoes
  • Walking or running on uneven ground or sand
  • A trip or fall

Flexor digitorum longus pain locations

The flexor digitorum longus can cause referred pain on the inside of the lower leg, or around the ball and arch of the sole of the foot. This can cause pain whilst walking.

Flexor digitorum longus muscle pain relief


Whilst seated in a chair or on the ground, point your toes up or towards yourself, so your ankle is bent as if your foot is about to take a step. Lean forward to pull your foot and toes towards yourself. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and swap legs. 

Heat therapy

Apply a heat pack to the inside area of your calf, below the knee. You can also take a hot shower, allowing the water to hit your lower legs, take a warm bath or dip your legs in warm water that goes up to your knees. The heat allows your muscles to relax and increases blood circulation in the area to allow for healing. Heat therapy should be limited to 15-20 minutes at a time, as to not aggravate your skin too much and accidentally cause superficial burns. Avoid using ice as it reduces the healing response of the body and causes your muscles to tighten. 

Soft tissue occupational therapy treatment

Soft tissue occupational therapy treatment focuses on treating musculoskeletal disorders of the body through diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation. A soft tissue occupational therapist will be able to provide flexor digitorum longus muscle pain relief through hands-on massage treatments such as trigger point therapy and dry needling.

If you would like flexor digitorum longus muscle pain relief, book in to see a soft tissue occupational therapist at Urban Health HQ. You can make an appointment today or contact us by calling 0411 563 391 or email kristen@urbanhealthhq.com.au 

Published by Urban Health HQ

We are a health and fitness centre offering Occupational Therapy, Exercise Physiology, Personal Training and Group Fitness classes.

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