Foot Drop Exercise
Foot drop is one of the more common gait issues with MS. As the foot moves through the stride, the intact reflexive action is for the toes and forefoot to lift, the heel to strike and the foot to then roll forward to the ball and through the big toe.
With foot drop, the toe stays oriented down (toward the ground) and often catches the surface. This causes many trips and falls.
The issue is caused by damage to the peroneal nerve and muscle weakness. Certainly, the nerve damage is the root cause and the lack of involuntary muscle use causes the muscle tone to deteriorate over time.
A good summary about foot drop can be found at:
When suffering from significant foot drop, I searched and searched for practical approaches to addressing this issue. I found a lot of general references to PT and a lot of information about electrical stimulation and corrective braces. This information is useful, but was not what I was looking for.
Finally, I found a woman's personal story explaining how she had overcome foot drop by riding a bicycle over the course of a year. Proper pedaling drives through with the toe pointed down and flows upward with the foot flexed. HOPE!!
At this point in time, I was not ready for open road cycling. I did not have easy access to a stationary bike. If you are ready or have access, I suggest you give the cycling a try. (Recumbent stationary bikes are often more accessible for folks with MS.)
I came up with a very simple exercise that I repeated many times a day for several months. I cannot claim my foot drop is completely gone (it rears its ugly head when I am tired, hot or cold). However, in daily life, I rarely notice it anymore. Yay! and Double Yay!
Here's the exercise: TAP YOUR FOOT TO MUSIC!
Focus on really lifting the foot on the off beat and striking the floor hard on the beat.
Yes, that's it. It works the muscle involved in foot drop and (personal belief) stimulates that impeded nerve.
Warning: It's a small muscle that you likely haven't used a whole lot. Take it slow!!! Track your tapping time and increase slowly over the course of weeks, then months. Strengthening the muscle cannot be done quickly without injury. Proceed slowly! Stick with this exercise and I am hopeful you will see real improvement! It may take longer than you would like, but slow and steady on this one!
Even if one foot is primarily affected, I advise you to work equally with both sides. What we do to one side, we should always do with the other!
Next step: Walk on your heels (30 seconds), walk on your toes (30 seconds).
TAP ON, FRIENDS!