A Guide to Physical Therapy for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome

two feet with one shoe on

The Benefits of Physical Therapy for Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome: Alleviating Pain and Enhancing Mobility


Tarsal tunnel syndrome refers to the compression of the tibial nerve in the area near the ankle, known as the tarsal tunnel. This condition leads to various symptoms, such as foot or ankle pain and numbness. When it comes to treating tarsal tunnel syndrome, physical therapy proves highly beneficial. By alleviating pain and enhancing mobility, physical therapy plays a crucial role in managing this condition effectively.

In this article, we’ll explore what to expect when you start physical therapy for tarsal tunnel syndrome, the types of exercises that may be recommended, and how long recovery takes. We’ll also look at how physical therapy can help prevent reinjury.

What to Expect at Physical Therapy

When starting physical therapy for tarsal tunnel syndrome, an evaluation from your Physical Therapy is to be expected. This evaluation will involve a series of tests to assess the strength and range of motion in your foot and ankle, as well as the extent of pain you’re experiencing. Based on this assessment, your Physical Therapy will create a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Your Physical Therapy may suggest a variety of treatments, including manual therapy such as massage or joint mobilizations. These techniques aim to reduce pain and improve mobility. Additionally, they may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to help you regain strength and flexibility in your foot and ankle.

Furthermore, your Physical Therapy may provide instructions on modifying activities that are causing pain or worsening symptoms. This will ensure that you can actively participate in your recovery while minimizing discomfort.

What Types of Exercises Might You Do?

Depending on your specific needs, your physical therapy may recommend a variety of exercises to help reduce pain and improve your mobility. These might include:

Stretching exercises to help reduce tightness in your calf muscles and Achilles tendon.

Strengthening exercises, such as heel raises, calf raises, or ankle circles, to build strength in the foot and ankle.

Balance exercises, such as standing on one foot or doing a single-leg balance drill, to help improve coordination.

Isometric exercises, such as toe pulls or heel pushes, help increase strength in the muscles of the foot and ankle without putting weight on them.

How Long Does Recovery Take?

The recovery time for tarsal tunnel syndrome varies, depending on factors such as the severity of your symptoms and how quickly you are able to progress with physical therapy. In general, though, most people can expect to be back to their pre-injury level of activity within 6-8 weeks of starting physical therapy.

How Does Physical Therapy Help Prevent Re-Injury?

Physical therapy is an effective way to prevent re-injury, as it helps you build strength and flexibility throughout the entire body. Your Physical Therapy will work with you to identify any weaknesses or imbalances in your foot and ankle muscles that may be contributing to the tarsal tunnel syndrome symptoms. They can also provide education on proper technique and posture when performing activities that involve the foot and ankle, which can help reduce the risk of re-injury.


In conclusion, physical therapy is an effective treatment for tarsal tunnel syndrome that can help alleviate foot and ankle pain and improve mobility. Your Physical Therapy will work with you to determine the best course of action for your individual needs, including a variety of exercises to build strength and flexibility in the affected areas. With a combination of exercises, education, and careful monitoring, physical therapy can help you get back to your active lifestyle as quickly and safely as possible.