How to fix Flat Feet

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How to fix flat feet?…  It’s not as difficult as you would think.

The purpose of this blog post is to provide you everything that you will need to help fix your flat feet.


// What is Flat feet?

how to fix flat feet 

It is a type of foot posture which involves the collapse of the inner arch of the foot.

As a result – the bottom of the foot is in complete contact with the floor.

This can occur in one or both feet and can be seen whilst standing still and/or walking (referred to as over pronation).

Also referred as: pronated foot, fallen arches and/or pes planus.

// What causes fallen arches?

1. It’s in your DNA:

Image courtesy of rajcreationzs at

Genetic features can be inherited from your parents. (… and that includes Flat feet!)

This is referred to as Structural flat feet.

This is where the bone alignment of your foot is flat.

Unfortunately in this situation, no matter how strong your muscles or how good your shoe is, your bony structure can not be changed. (BUT – This is actually pretty uncommon from what I’ve seen in the clinic)

Did you know…. that all babies are actually born with flat feet?… The foot arch naturally forms as the baby starts to walk and develop stronger muscles in the foot.


2. Your foot muscles aren’t working properly:

This is where the vast majority of you will fall under.

(… and that’s actually great news! WHY?… Because we can fix this!)

You either have:

  • No real control of your feet and/or;
  • Weak/tight feet muscles

… both of which can result in the collapse of the foot arch.

This is referred to as Functional flat feet.

Other factors that may contribute:

  • Increase in body weight
  • Improper shoe wear
  • Ineffective posture
  • Incorrect techniques in sport



// How to determine if you have it

Whilst standing:

Look at your feet.

There should be an obvious arch on the inside of your foot.

As a rough guideline: You should be able to fit the tips of your fingers underneath the arch of your foot.

If there is no gap between the bottom of your foot and the floor, then you probably have Flat feet.

Whilst walking:

Check out your foot print at the beach! Which one are you?

// Conditions associated with Flat feet

… Is your flat feet causing any of these problems?

a) Plantarfasciitis:

b) Big toe bunion:

c) Heel spur:

d) Lower back/Hip/Knee problems:


How to fix Flat Feet

These exercises are intended to help people who experience flat feet whilst standing and/or walking.

flat feet exercises
Image courtesy of Flare at

Note: It is important that each exercise is pain-free and performed in a gentle manner. If you are unsure if you are doing the exercise correctly, please feel free to message me on the Facebook page.

How to fix Flat feet:

  1. Stretches
  2. Releases
  3. Importance of your big toe
  4. Foot strengthening exercises
  5. Taping
  6. Orthotics
  7. Other areas to consider


“So… how do you get an arch in your foot?”

// Stretches

The calf:

Tight calf muscles (Gastrocnemius and Soleus) will limit the amount of movement that the ankle can bend (also known as dorsiflexion).

Having full range of motion in your ankle is particularly important when you are walking, running, squatting and jumping.

Without proper movement and flexibility, the ankle will compensate by over pronating (… which is a fancy way of saying that your foot arch collapses) during movement.

Quick assessment: How to test your ankle flexibility

Get into the position as shown above.

Aim to get your toe roughly 8cm from the wall with your knee still in contact with the wall. (… and don’t lift your foot off the ground!)

Can you get the 8cm?… If you can’t, check out this post to improve your ankle mobility.

a) Gastrocnemius


  • Stand on the edge of a step.
  • Lower both of your heels.
  • Aim to feel a superficial stretch in your calf muscle.
  • Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

b) Soleus


  • Assume the lunge position.
  • Bend the ankle at the front as much as you can by lunging forward.
  • Aim to feel a deep stretch in your calf muscle.
  • Hold this stretch for at least 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Note: This will also help loosen up any stiffness in the ankle joint.

// Releases

a) Plantarfascia


  • Place your foot on a massage ball.
  • Apply pressure on the ball.
  • Roll your foot up/down
  • Do this for 1-3 minute.

b) Achilles tendon


  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
  • Place the back of your achilles tendon on a ball.
  • Apply a downward pressure.
  • Rock your foot from side to side.
  • Duration: 1-3 minute

c) Peroneal

The peroneal muscles are located on the outside of your lower leg. If tight, this muscle can cause your feet to collapse inwards.

Here’s how to release it:


  • Place the outside of your lower leg on a massage ball.
  • Apply pressure over the ball.
  • Make sure to cover the whole outer side of the lower leg.
  • Draw circles with your ankle to increase release.
  • Duration: 1-3 minute

// The importance of your big toe

Your big toe is more important than you think… especially when it comes to fixing flat feet during walking.

It is CRUCIAL that your big toe has:

  1. the ability to extend (in other words, it must be flexible)
  2. adequate strength  (… how many of you specifically work out your big toe at the gym?)

The combination of these 2 factors will help engage and lift of the medial arch of the foot.

Without sufficient big toe function, the foot is forced to roll inwards resulting in a Flat foot posture.

Big toe exercise


  • Place the bottom of your big toe onto the side of a door frame.
  • Lean your foot into the wall to create a stretch of the big toe.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Whilst maintain your position, press your big toe firmly into the wall for 30 seconds.
    • Feel the muscles underneath your foot contract firmly.
  • Repeat 3 times.

// Strengthening

We need to strengthen the muscles that will encourage an arch in your feet.

This is namely the action of the Tibialis Posterior, Tibials Anterior and plantar foot muscles.

** The Short foot exercise – the MOST important exercise!

I call this the “king” of all foot exercises.

It is the fundamental exercise that all other variations/progressions are based on.

You need to learn how to do this correctly! Don’t rush it.


  • Stand with your feet facing forwards and shoulder width apart.
  • Whilst keeping your toes relaxed, proceed to scrunch the under-surface of your foot.
    • Imagine that you are dragging your big toe backwards.
  • If performed correctly, you should be able to feel the strong contraction of the muscles underneath your foot.
    • Does it feel like it’s going to cramp? THAT’S GREAT! You are recruiting the right muscles.
  • Hold this for 5 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.

Note: It is called the Short foot exercise because it actually makes you drop a shoe size.


a) Heel raise/drop with ball


  • Stand on the edge of a step.
  • Place a small ball between your ankles.
  • Activate short foot. (see above)
  • Squeeze the ball with your ankles throughout all movements.
  • Perform a heel raise and drop.
  • Repeat 30 times.

b) Step through



  • Have your feet in a staggered position.
  • Activate short foot in your leading leg. (see position 1)
  • Whilst maintaining short foot on the leading leg, step forward with the back leg.
  • As the swinging leg is about to land on the ground, push off from the big toe.
  • You should feel a contraction in your arch through movement.
  • Repeat 30 times.


c) The Michael Jackson lean


  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Activate short foot throughout exercise. (see above)
  • Keeping your legs straight, lean your whole body forwards from the ankles.
    • You will need to dig your toes into the ground to prevent you from falling forward.
    • You can do this in front of a wall if you feel you are going to fall forward.
  • Use your feet/toe muscles to prevent yourself from falling and return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

(If you are unsure why this exercise is called the Michael Jackson lean, go Youtube it now!)

// Improve your toe control

The entire human race has forgotten how to use their foot muscles!

We have absolutely no idea how to properly co-ordinate, control and move our feet.

This is a big problem!

Why?… Because the muscles that control your feet also play a huge role in the support of the foot arch.

Try out these 2 exercises to get your brain connecting to your foot again.

a) Alternate toe lift


  • Position 1: Lift up only your big toe whilst pushing the other 4 toes into the ground.
  • Position 2: Push your big toe into the ground whilst lifting the other 4 toes.
  • Transition smoothly between these 2 positions.
    • Keep your foot still. Your toes should be the only thing that is moving.
  • Repeat 30 times.
    • (… or as many times it takes to get the movement happening)
    • It’s harder than it looks 😛

b) Toe spread/squeeze


  • Position 1: Spread all of your toes. (without bending your toes or moving your foot)
  • Position 2: Squeeze all of your toes together. (without bending your toes or moving your foot)
  • Transition between these 2 positions.
  • Repeat 30 times.


// How to tape for Flat feet

You can provide additional support to your foot by taping the arch of the foot.


// Orthotics: Good or bad?

Orthotics for flat feet

Orthotics are inserts which are placed in your shoe.

It’s function is to provide an external support to lift up your arch.

… Sounds good, right?

However… The main issue I have with orthotics is that it makes your already weak foot muscles even weaker. You become reliant on the orthotic without giving your muscles any real chance to self-correct the problem.

If you are considering getting an orthotic for your flat fleet, please consider doing the following exercises FIRST.



// Other areas to consider:

But wait!… there’s more!

We’ve already been through all of the foot exercises that will need do.

And they will definitely help you out.

But… there are certain postures of the body that may be the ROOT CAUSE of your flat fleet.

Check out these blog posts to find out more:


Remember: Do your exercises… every day!

Try to incorporate the short foot activation in everything that you do!

Standing, walking, running….

The more you do it, the better you will get!


Here’s what to do next:

Any questions?… Leave me a comment down below. (I reply to EVERYONE)

– Follow me on Facebook.


I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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37 thoughts on “How to fix Flat Feet

  1. Hi Mark,
    I have one inquiry :Will the exercises for the flat foot help mi fix the big toe bunion? I’m having this Bunion problem for months now, and is pretty painful but also ugly to see and hard to wear shoes. Reading your materials, I am pretty much convinced that I have many of the postural problems you describe, if not all of them, due- I think- to a hyper mobility that runs in my family. Apart from the hunchback I have, looking at my body posture it seems to my that I have also lumbar forward position. From what I read in your materials, the starting point for 2 herniated discs I have in the lumbar zone, and also for the recently collapse of my foot arch it might be the improper position of my lumbar spine? Or the lumbar problems might be the result of the thorax kyphosis?
    I am sorry for make it so complicated 😊
    Thank you so much. the articles in your page are extraordinary, made me discover various postural problems I had neglected for years and convinced me to try to fix them.

    1. Hey Daniela,

      Improving your foot posture will most likely stop the bunion from progressing.

      It may also help correct your big toe bunion, however, it really depends if it has already fused in that position.

      In regards to what postural problem came first? That’s hard to answer through the internet… but I would definitely try to address them all eventually.


  2. Hi Mark,

    I too have flat feet & over-pronation, and have recently started with your exercises. I have started doing Crossfit, and really struggle with squats; I just can’t get down far enough and my legs are achey after squats (with relatively much less weight than I use for other lifts). Any suggestions for what I should do beyond these exercises?


      1. I also get pain around my knees when I go low and I’ve Been told that’s related to the flat feet. Anything for that? Thanks!

  3. I have Structural flat that I get it from my parent.What will I do for that? May I have a hope so that my feet have arcus?

    1. Hi Johannes,

      If it is indeed Structural… this means the joints are essentially “stuck” in that flat position.

      However – you can still try to optimise your foot movement by doing these exercises.


  4. Hello Sir,
    I’m Johannes from Indonesia,
    I’m sorry first because my english is not so good

    I am 18 years old and I want to be a cadet,but I have flat feet.I realized it in Last January on this year.I don’t know how to fix it.But I see one people .He told me that he has flat feet before.He said that he has total flat feet and he use medial arch support.So I use the insole too since last september.Until today i had bought 3 medial arch support and the result is nothing.
    I am total flat feet. I want to ask you sir,is the flat feet can be cured and my feet have arcus?and how long?
    Hope you reply sir soon

      1. I’m sorry Sir
        Because i forget to say that I have Structural flat that I get it from my parent.What will I do for that? May I have a hope so that my feet have arcus?

  5. Hello Sir,
    I’m Johannes from Indonesia,
    I’m sorry first because my english is not so good

    I am 18 years old and I want to be a cadet,but I have flat feet.I realized it in Last January on this year.I don’t know how to fix it.But I see one people .He told me that he has flat feet before.He said that he has total flat feet and he use medial arch support.So I use the insole too since last september.Until today i had bought 3 medial arch support and the result is nothing.
    I am total flat feet. I want to ask you sir,is the flat feet can be cured and my feet have arcus?and how long?

  6. Hello. Mark. Glad I come across your mind easing article. Whenever I stand my feet gets overpronated. And it shape looks awkward I hope your exercises would me out ? Thanks and God bless,

  7. Hi Mark
    I read your blog and it was really very helpfull but I am not able to understand if I really have flat feet. When I did the wet test, it was pretty much normal(normal feet). But when I stand and check it looks like my feet are flat. Please help me out.

    1. Hey Aarya,

      Sounds like you have fairly “normal” arches that drop to an extent when you put weight through it.

      You can still benefit from doing the exercises in the post.


  8. hey Mark,
    thank you so much for such a detailed and informative blog on flat feet.
    I have flat feet since childhood. but with someone’s suggestion to use bottle to help gain the arch, it has appeared only on my right feet. My left feet is still flat and i try very hard to get arch on it as well… can you please tell me the reason as to why my left feet has still not obtained the arch?
    also by performing these above mentioned exercises, will i be able to get an arch on left feet??
    thank you.

    1. Hi Kyra,

      If the exercises aren’t helping with the left foot:
      – You have have structural flat feet. This just means this is how your bones were put together. We might be able to influence some change, but it may not be a whole lot.
      – Your flat feet are due to somewhere further up the chain. (Eg. The pelvis position).
      – You are not performing the exercise correctly.
      – Some other factor (there are heaps!)
      – Most commonly, you need more TIME.


  9. Hey Mark! This is a very informative blog about flat feet! However, since 1 month i have been facing a dull aching pain in and around my knees due to flat feet (maybe)! (Sometimes pinching feel on the top of my knee). I would feel swelling like on top of my knee. I have been to an orthopedist and was told that i have chondromalacia patella and he suggested me insoles and one exercise to strengthen my quadriceps. However i was given no exercise for flat feet. Can you suggest me some exercise for flat feet to reduce knee pain. And also if i follow the above exercises how long will it take to regain a corrected arch? Also, will flat foot lead to problems like arthritis in future? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Harsh,

      If your knee pain is due to your flat feet, then all of the exercises on this article will help with that. It’s all about optimal alignment as you move.

      You might also need to look at your technique is you run, go to the gym, play a sport etc.

      In terms of how long, it really depends! Everyone is different.

      As your feet are the foundation of your body, if they are not functioning properly, it may lead to movement issues which then can lead to arthritis.

  10. Thanks for the great article Mark! I have started incorporating all the exercises into my practice. I have flat feet AND overpronation. Will the exercises help the overpronation as well or will I need to add different exercise in conjunction to the aforementioned ones?

    Thanks, Scott

  11. Story of my life haha!
    Hyperlax hip/ankle joints, valgus knee, anterior pelvic tilt and of course flat feet (and now hallux valgus) have led me to wear orthotics pretty much all this time.
    Now 25yo, soft tissue therapist and determined to change this exercise! It’s a shame most health professionals oriente us to the easy-lazy solutions from the start. Where’s the passion in client care and reeducation?

    Like you said, babies are born with flat feet. On that note, I learnt that shoes should only be introduced as late as possible to children for them to build those foot muscles and turn flat feet into actual arched feet (having them walk on all kind of textured ground is a most obviously).

    Anyway, thanks for the good content and dedication!

  12. Hi Mark,

    I am going to start doing these excercises too as I have flat feet. It affects my lower back and my calf muscles are so so tight. When I tried the short food exercises my toes scrunch up, am I doing this wrong? Also I cannot lift my othe 4 toes without my big toe going up too, any further tips with that to get me started? Thanks, becky

    1. Hi Becky,

      You will need to learn how to scrunch your foot without recruiting your toe flexors. It’s all about practice :).. and time!

      The connection between your brain and your foot is probably not too strong. But this can be trained!


  13. Just stumbled upon this post, I really appreciate how much detail you went into. I have a situation that I’d like your thoughts on if you wouldn’t mind: I have neglected my feet as I have been wearing cheap skate shoes my whole life (I’m 23) which are completely flat and offer no foot support, so I feel like this may probably be the cause of my flat feet. I plan to correct my flat feet through the information you’ve provided, however I haven’t been able to find any advice on which shoes I should invest in that won’t cause my flat feet to come back once corrected. I’d be very grateful if you could share some details on this! Also, would I want to avoid shoes with arch support as this would serve the same purpose as orthotics?

    Many thanks,

    1. Hey Tom!

      Great to hear that you are going to start to do the exercises for your flat feet.

      In terms of what shoes to wear – In the ideal world, if we had super strong feet, you would want to aim for minimalist/barefoot shoes. This is because it will make your foot/toe muscles work as they were naturally intended to do so.

      HOWEVER- please don’t rush out and buy them! (well… not for now anyways!)

      If you switched to barefoot/minimalist shoes now, I can guaranty you’ll end up with a lot of pain as your feet will not be used to it.

      It is fine to get a shoe with orthotic inserts/arch support for now, but the main aim would be a gradual wean off to less support. (providing that you have a functional flat foot and not a structural one)

      I tend to sway towards new balance and Asics, however, I haven’t tried many of the shoes out there in the market to give you an accurate recommendation.

      Hope this helps!


  14. Hello Mark! awesome info-content on your blog, I had to share this with my friends too who had flat-feet.! Thanks for sharing your precious knowledge on human anatomy with us folks!!

    I used to be an arched-footer in my childhood days, even teenage. I do have an anterior pelvic tilt which might be causing flat-feet but u explained above in ur blog that apt causes internal rotation of leg bones which cause over-pronation of the feet which makes sense. but despite having APT i actually have more external rotation ability of the legs instead of internal rotation yet I still suffer from over-pronation or flat-feet. What would you make of that scenario?

    1. Hey hey Raja,

      Sounds like you may have an anterior pelvic tilt + tight hip external rotators.

      This can cause you to walk/stand with a toe out position which in turn can cause your mid foot to collapse.

      In that case, focus on:
      – stretching the butt (piriformis standing stretch)
      – keeping feet reasonably straight ( a little bit out is fine)
      – Strengthening with the exercises mentioned in the post.


  15. This is an extraordinary article. Very in depth and easy to follow. You’ve detailed the ‘why’ of these exercises well.

    I’ve started training my feet/ankles/calves recently. I have not done any toe specific strengthening. I didn’t realise the importance of it. Also I have not done any Anterior Tibialis training either (shin bone muscle)

    Thanks very much.

    1. Cheers Cameron!

      Glad you like the post 🙂

      Keep up with the foot/toe exercises. They are tricky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.


  16. Woow! Your site is amazing! Thanks for sharing this. I have orthotics since my 15th year and I’m 35 now. My ankles and feet are hypermobile too so I’m running into lots of problems now. I have a very hard time finding a good therapist. They have changed the orthotics everytime and it’s just getting worse. I have nerve problems now too… So it’s a long way to finding what is working good and finding someone good to help me with this.. I’m going to try your exercises, although I can’t manage any of them while I just tried… So I have lots of practice to do… I’m a PT myself that’s why I love your page extra! I wonder: I’m looking into the barefoots, do you know these? They train the foot really well is said. Do you have any experience with them?

    1. Hi Yvette,

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Minimalist shoes are great for forcing your foot muscles work.

      HOWEVER… they are too big of a jump if your feet are already weak. You need to work your way up to using them to avoid any flare ups.


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