Having flat feet is pretty common nowadays. Sedentary and office jobs only made it easier for the symptoms to show up, being that we as a species do now move as much as before. However, flat feet, aka fallen arches, is not a condition to be scared of. Some people have this condition for the entirety of their lives without even knowing it. On the other hand, flat feet can cause some minor, and some severe damage to the rest of your body, starting from the feet themselves, all up to your hips and spine.
If you took it upon yourself to invest in fixing your feet, we have some pretty useful advice for you in the form of flat feet exercises. Besides changing your lifestyle and exercising for 15 minutes daily, you may also want to consider getting some quality footwear designed for flat feet specifically. So, without further ado, let us see what kind of measures you can start taking right away at the comfort of your home.
Approach to Flat Feet Exercises
Before you down the path of recovery and exercise, we would like to address a couple of things first. Flat feet, also known as pes planus in the medical world, is a condition that varies from individual to individual. This means that every person can get it through different means and that the symptoms and consequences vary based on several factors:
- Age – As we get older, we tend to move less and our tendons get weaker, thus resulting in flat feet
- Body Weight – People with a few extra pounds may experience additional discomfort, and they may have a harder time recovering
- Lifestyle – There is a huge difference between a person that sits while working and someone that walks or stands while at their job post. People that move less, which is more common, tend to feel the effects of flat feet more
- Pre-existing conditions – Arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, acute injuries, old tendon injuries. These are just a few of the conditions that can affect your flat feet recovery. If you have any pre-existing conditions related to your anatomy and biomechanical functions, always consult your physician first.
If you are interested in more information on this topic, and everything regarding the causes, symptoms, and other remedies for flat feet, we invite you to check out our extensive research on flat feet and get an in-depth perspective. Another important thing to remember is that children have naturally flat feet in most cases. However, it is known that this issue resolves on itself once the kids start developing, and right before puberty hits.
The famous towel scrunches became popular due to their multiple useful effects. For starters, this exercise not only helps with flat feet, but it also helps with tendon strengthening and overall arch improvement. Even some weightlifters prescribe it as a way to make your foot stronger and more flexible. So, how is this exercise performed? For this exercise, you will, of course, need a towel.
- Find a comfortable chair and some free space at home. It would be best to use a chair with adjustable height, like an office chair.
- Sit on the chair in a comfy position, with your feet landing on the ground. Take off your shoes and socks.
- Unravel the towel completely and put it in front of you. Place the heel on the closer edge of the towel.
- Now, what you want to do is grab the towel with your toes. Keep your heel and the ball of your foot grounded.
- Repeat in full range of motion as long as there is more towel to grab. Try flexing your foot muscles each time in the upper position.
- Repeat 3 times for each foot. One whole towel grabbed counts as a single repetition. You can do this once or twice a day.
*it is important to maintain a straight spine and neutral hip positions. Do not bend or overextend your back while doing the towel grab.
One of the simplest exercises for arch stabilization is the popular ball roll. Now, we aren’t saying that you must have a tennis ball specifically, but they are proven to work wonders. You can also try getting one of those stretch ball used by gym-goers, just keep in mind that they are not as comfortable. So, how should you perform a ball roll?
- Once again, you need to find some space and a comfy chair. This time, you can use a shorter chair, like a lawn chair or something similar.
- Make yourself comfortable and take your shoes and socks off.
- Put the ball in front of your foot, placing your foot just far enough so your knee forms a 90° angle.
- Place your foot on the ball, or the ball underneath and start rolling.
- Try to roll the ball all the way from your heel to the tip of your toes. It can be hard or weird at first, but you will be amazed by how fast you learn this movement.
- Repeat for about 3 minutes, then switch to the other foot.
*Remember, do your spine and hips must be in a neutral position. Additionally, there is no need to use extra force in stepping on the tennis ball, let the gravity do that for you.
Achilles Tendon Stretch (sitting version)
The importance of Achilles tendon health cannot be stressed enough. It is one of the most important tendons in our body when it comes to stability and mobility of our legs and ultimately arches. But, due to overuse, or sometimes underuse, the Achilles tendon can cause our foot arches to slowly collapse, resulting in flat feet. So, to properly keep them healthy, you will need to exercise your Achilles tendons. This is recommended to everyone, not only people with flat feet.
There are many variations of this stretch exercise, and we decided to walk you through the easiest version out there – a version that anyone should be able to perform. For this stretch exercise, you will need a towel, preferably a long one. Here’s how to stretch your Achilles tendons using nothing but a towel:
- This exercise can be done with your shoes on, but for the sake of yielding better results, we recommend you take your shoes and socks off and do it barefoot.
- Sit down on the floor and straighten your legs. Your legs should be fully extended.
- Take the towel and place it under the ball of your foot. This exercise is done one foot at a time.
- Once the towel is firmly placed against the bottom of your foot, grab each end with your hands.
- Straighten your back and pull the towel with your hands closer to your chest. You will feel a stretching sensation behind your shins and in your ankle.
- Hold the towel for about 30 seconds in the stretched position. Slowly release.
- Repeat the process 3 times for each foot.
*One thing to keep in mind is to never yank or bounce the towel. Every movement should be slow and controlled, or else you risk micro-tears in your ligaments. Also, if you experience any painful sensations, you have gone too far. Stop and repeat more cautiously. Knowing your limits is the best way of going forward.
This is possibly one of the simplest foot exercises that work wonders if done daily. Toe raises are not only good for exercising your foot arches, but also for increasing ankle and foot stability. A lot of sportspeople that rely on their sense of balance do toe raises, flat feet or not. Do not be surprised if the exercise feels strange in the beginning – you will get the hang of it sooner than you expect. So, here’s how to properly do toe raises.
- Take off your shoes and socks and find a firm surface to stand on.
- Take a stance by standing straight and place your feet shoulder-width apart.
- While you are standing still, press hard with your big toes into the ground and lift your other four toes up. Hold for 5 seconds. Release.
- Now, press hard with your four toes on each foot and lift the thumb toe-up, flexing it in the upper position. Hold for 5 seconds. Release.
- These two movements count as one repetition. Repeat for up to 10 times.
*this exercise can be done simultaneously with both feet, but for starters, we recommend you go with each foot separately. Being comfortable while doing these exercises is a priority.
Lastly, we have a strange kind of exercise that can be considered more of a lifestyle change, depending on how you look at it. Countless research studies have found that if you increase your time walking barefoot, your arches get stronger they start correcting themselves. So, we will leave you with this simple advice: whenever you can, take off your shoes and walk around all sorts of surfaces. The more the surface is uneven and bumpy, the better. By adapting to various challenges your foot arches and tendons are bound to strengthen themselves.
You will not only experience less pressure in your feet, but you will also see improvements in posture. Some people even report their back and hips getting better by simply walking barefoot every chance they get. Just remember to be mindful of your surroundings and stay safe while you are doing it.
People today are busy, and we get it – you can rarely find the time to spare for these exercises. Running errands, work, socializing, rest – the reasons are endless. However, as you can see in our exercise compilation, these stretches designed to help you with your flat feet take no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. So, without excuses, take a break every once and a while and invest that time into bettering your feet. Your knees, hips, and spine will thank you one day!