Flat feet is a condition in which the arch under the sole of your feet is absent or fallen. As a result, your feet touch the ground. It could be painless or painful at the arch area. Additionally, the condition may occur after an injury or as a result of wear out due to aging, which weakens the tendons that support the arch.
Signs and symptoms are rare, but some people may experience pain on the feet, including difficulties when attempting to stand. It’s also easy to notice flat feet when you stand upright.
Do Exercises for Flat Feet Work?
Although flat feet may seem impossible to fix, you can actually use exercises to improve your arch. A true story is told of a lady whose life completely changed after years of dealing with flat feet. She always believed that her flat feet condition was permanent.
However, she adopted the knowledge gained from her physiotherapy classes to fix her problem by engaging in feet exercises. After several months, her flat feet improved greatly, resulting in the development of normal arches.
Studies have also proven that exercises for flat feet actually work with study participants showing significant improvement after embarking on certain exercises within the study periods.
20 Most Effective Exercises to Correct Flat Feet
1. Short Foot Exercise
Short foot exercise involves allowing your metatarsals to move towards the heel of your feet to create a swell that shortens it. A raised arch is then formed. Hold it for about 120 seconds. Although the exercise can be frustrating when you first try it out, you get accustomed to it with time. It takes a lot of time, focus and skills to gain the most from this exercise.
Cramping of your feet indicates that you’re doing the exercise correctly. Hold on to the short feet position until the cramp disappears. You can do the exercise at home or even in your office while leaning, standing or even sitting. Moreover, you don’t need any special equipment to engage in this exercise that offers stable support to your feet.
2. Calf Stretch (1)
Stand straight next to a wall. Move your right foot back to straighten it backwards. Bend the other leg forward (still in your initial standing position). Turn your heel slightly out, but flat on the floor.
Lean forward and support the palm of your hands on the wall as you stretch your right leg straight and left leg in the bent position.
Stretch your right leg until you feel your calf and hold on to that position for 30 seconds. Repeat with the left leg back and your right foot bent. Repeat the exercise three times a day.
3. Soleus Stretch (2)
Stand straight next to a wall. Move your right foot slightly back with your right knee bent. Bend your left leg forward (still in your initial standing position). Turn your heel slightly out, but flat on the floor.
Lean forward and support the palm of your hands on the wall. Lean further forward until you feel your leg calves stretch. Hold on to that position for 30 seconds and repeat with the left leg. Do the exercise thrice a day.
4. Toe Yoga
Toe yoga can be done in various ways. First, interlock your fingers in between your toes. The interlock ensures your toe muscles stretch. The second technique of engaging in this exercise is through toe squatting – lean forward with your elbows on the floor and exert body weight on your toes. Release by slowly leaning on your knees.
Thirdly, place your feet straight on a flat surface. Lift all your toes while keeping other parts of your feet on the ground.
5. Stair Heel Raises
Stand on the staircase, hold on to a wall and slowly raise your heel as you lower it back to the floor. Do this several times as you change from slight to extreme, and raising and lowering your right and left heel in turns.
6. Heel Raises
This is done to increase blood flow in your body, including the effectiveness of muscles functions. Stand tall with your legs slightly apart. While standing on the balls of your feet, raise your heels as high as you can. Lower your heels back to the floor. Repeat this process severally.
7. Towel Toe Curls
Towel toe curls enhance formation of feet arches and improves feet strength. The only equipment needed in this exercise is a towel you have to grasp easily using your toes. Stand barefoot at the center of a towel spread flat on the floor.
While seated, keep your heel fixed on the towel and move your toes forward and downwards. Place your toes down to grasps the towel slowly, moving it towards your heel until you feel tightening sole. Repeat this process for efficiency.
8. Plantar Fascia Stretch
Sit and use a foam roller to move your feet back and forth. Gently pull your big toe back and forth with your legs crossed. Use a folded towel to pull the arch of your feet towards you, keeping your back straight. Do this repeatedly and be cautious to ensure you have enough support. Start the exercise slowly.
9. Towel Stretch
After long periods of standing at work, place a towel under the ball of your foot and hold with both hands. Pull it towards you while keeping your knees straight and stay in that position for twenty to thirty seconds. It functions to relax your foot muscles and improve blood circulation around the area.
10. Single Leg Stand
Stand upright with both feet slightly apart. Bend your knees a little bit to prevent sideway shifting of your hips. Gently lift one leg while supporting your body with the other. Avoid possible movements of your upper body. Lift the other foot and repeat the process.
11. Toe Spreads
This improves toe alignment and posture. Place your big toe on the ground and press it. Next, press your smaller toes before resting your heel. Repeat this exercise. It can help your feet recover from injury and pain.
12. Can Roll or Golf Ball Stretch
Place a golf ball or can under your foot. Roll the ball or can towards the heel, backwards. Make sure you apply pressure on any part of your foot you find tender. Don’t assume any form of pain you might endure during the exercise.
13. Pointing the Toes
Pick something in your room to point with your toes. With your toes pointing at the chosen object, reflex your foot for about 10 seconds in that position. Let your reflexes relax.
You can do this exercise for both feet at the same time or in turns. However, make sure you do it ten times for each foot daily. Alternatively, draw a letter of the alphabet in the air with your toes instead of pointing at objects.
14. Toe Stand Pose
Stand straight with your feet together and hands resting on your sides. Raise your right foot and let it rest on your left thigh as you shift your weight to the left foot. Place your hands on your chest. Make sure your left foot is straight. Next, place your fingers on the floor in front of you. Slowly bend your left foot in front.
Place both hands at the center of your chest. Release the pose by placing your fingers on the floor and slowly straightening your left leg, followed by your right raised foot. Repeat the exercise, alternating your right foot with left foot.
15. Tennis Ball Foot Massage
Place a tennis ball on the floor and gently roll it under your foot. The exercises relax muscles in the sole of your foot, rendering them less irritating. If you want a deeper massage, apply pressure on the tennis ball. Stop the massage if you begin to feel some pain.
16. Pick Up Marbles
Picking marbles using your toes is a fun exercise. All you need is a bowl and marbles. Pick marbles one at a time using your toes and drop them in the bowl. Repeat the exercise until you pick all the marbles.
17. Toe Extensors Stretch
While standing, move one of your feet back and bend your toes with heel facing up. Feel the muscles on top of your foot being stretched. Hold onto that position until you feel a cramp beginning to develop at the arch of your foot. Release your foot and repeat the exercise with the other foot.
18. Toe Raises
Keep your feet slightly apart, standing on the balls of your feet, and slowly raise your heel. Lower it back to the floor and repeat the exercise using the other foot. The exercise helps increase blood flow and relaxes muscles of your feet.
19. Toe Running
Toe running can help raise the arch of your flat feet. Make sure your toes touch the ground while your heels are raised as you run to relax the muscles of your feet.
20. Walking Barefoot
Walking barefoot can minimize pain in your feet. It reduces stress exerted on your feet by wearing shoes not meant for your arch type. People who walk barefoot get more bounce with little impact on their knees and hips as their feet easily absorb shock.
Consult a Podiatrist, Doctor or a Physical Therapist
A podiatrist is a medical professional with qualification to treat aching feet. A physical therapist is trained to help patients reduce pain and improve their mobility. If you have a wound or sore on your foot, especially if you’re diabetic, infections, discoloration, itching and pain on your feet can be heightened with exercises. Consult a podiatrist or a physical therapist for further medication.