How to fix Flat Feet


Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

Instructions:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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:

Instructions:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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.

Instructions:

  • 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.

Progressions:

a) Heel raise/drop with ball

Instructions:

  • 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

 

Instructions:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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.

About

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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99 thoughts on “How to fix Flat Feet

    1. Hi Liam,

      In theory – it should strengthen your foot muscles.

      However, if you have flat feet and are used to having support, making a quick transition to barefoot running may cause injuries!

      Mark

  1. Hi Mark, I injured my right knee about 6 months ago and have recently noticed that I’m walking weird on the right side. For example my right foot points outwards when walking while the left is straight. This is causing me to overpronate. Are my feet the main problem or can other body parts be causing this? Thanks in advance

      1. I’ve seen a PT for 3 sessions now and all he says is that my glutes are weak so i’ve started doing exercises for that. I know you say orthotics aren’t good as they make your feet are weaker. What do you think about insoles like superfeet that i can just slip into my shoes to make walking less of a hassle. That would help me while I work on the exercises. If not insoles then shoe recommendations would be great.

        Thank you.

        1. Hey Zak,

          My personal opinion on orthotics for functional flat feet is that they are good in the short term, but should not be relied on in the long term.

          Your muscles are support you if you train them to.

          Over time – try to wean off your insoles and increase foot exercises 🙂

          Mark

  2. Hey mark, when doing short foot should you feel the calf contracting a lot? That’s the only way i can make my arch move.

    On my left side i can’t even do it sitting. I’ve been doing it standing for about 8-10days but not much result, i’ll still keep at it for a few months though.

    1. Hi Max,

      You want to feel it more so in the under surface of your foot.

      You will feel some in the tibialis posterior and/or tibialis anterior but should not be feeling it in the calf.

      You might need to strengthen the arch muscles in a non weight bear situation until it becomes easier.

      Mark

  3. This article was very informative, and I plan on incorporating these exercises. My question is can these help a tailor’s bunion? I recently (6 months ago) was prescribed orthotics for plantar fasciitis along with an injection. While the plantar fasciitis has improved, my tailors bunion is very bothersome. I have tried to find wide toe box shoes, but after being on my feet or walking, it’s painful. I’m trying toe spreaders at night which provide temporary relief. The podiatrist has not been helpful with this issue, so I’m hoping there is a specific exercise that can help. I want to resume my walking program. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Pauline,

      Tailor’s bunion are usually due to tight shoe box (esp. with high heels) and/or a foot that rolls outwards whilst walking.

      The exercises would more so help with a big toe bunion.

      You strengthen your little toes muscles by spreading your toes as wide as possible. This might help your tailors bunion on top of your spreaders!

      Mark

  4. Hello Mark, terrific content, thanks a lot, just one simple question, do you recommend wearing toe separators for people who have inward toes and bunions, and are the bunions fixable? All the best

    1. Hi Boban,

      Toe spreaders are awesome!

      They can help with inwards toes and bunions.

      With bunions which have fused, it is unlikely to completely reverse.

      Mark

  5. I’m going to try all of these! I’ve recently started working out at the gym and it’s been 2 months but over the past week I’ve had knee pain just in my left leg and I think it’s because either my form is wrong or it’s because of my flat feet (I wear orthotics) and I want to continue being able to work my quads and glutes (squats, deadlifts, running, etc.) but I’m afraid of injuring my knee further. I never knew that orthotics were bad for flat feet! Should I stop wearing them all together? Or should I slowly wean off of them while doing these exercises?

    I’m not really sure the cause of my left knee pain although my left foot i’ve always had problems with in the past and it’s more flat comparably to my right foot. I’m assuming it’s either because of something new I’ve incorporated into my workouts but I’m not sure. It’s a weird pain like it aches throughout the entire day but I haven’t felt any sharp pains at any given moment it’s more of a constant dull ache.

    Thanks for the super informative article! I will definitely incorporate these into my day to strengthen my foot muscles.

    1. Hi Ozgun (cool name btw),

      In the long term – I would try to gradually wean off your orthotics as you increase the strength of your flat foot. Be careful not to rush this as your body has likely developed a dependence on the support of the orthotics.

      Also check out this post: Rotated pelvis. A rotated pelvis can sometimes influence the posture of your feet.

      Mark

  6. Hello
    I had a theory that all people with flat feet take the most of their body weight on their calves rather than their quads, is that right?
    because all my friends with flat feet have big calves but weak quads

  7. Hi Mark,
    I am 42, and have recently developed Morton’s Neuroma. While I have undergone physiotherapy sessions, wear footwear with a metatarsal bar as suggested by the doctor, it hasn’t helped me much. I had a steroid injection shot too. Can you suggest some help for a long term as I feel that even the injection isn’t too helpful and I understand that the only next option is surgery, which I am not very keen on.
    PS: I had fractured my foot about a year ago and somewhere I feel that could have been the start to this issue

    1. Hi Jyothi,

      Are you giving it adequate relative rest to allow for it to heal properly in conjunction with your exercises? (eg. are you on your feet for too long that it may be leading to more flare ups?). This is where I would start first. You want to be getting better faster than it is getting worse.

      If your flat foot posture is causing more pressure on this area, addressing this with the exercises on the post will help out heaps! (Orthotics are great for symptomatic relief in the short term, but try not to become dependent on it as your feet muscles will become very weak)

      Cortisone will help reduce inflammation in the area…. but that’s about it! It does nothing to address the underlying root cause of it.

      If you can strengthen your foot so that it has the capacity to handle more pressure with exacerbating, your morton neuroma will likely start to get better.

      Mark

  8. Hi there I am 30 years old and have suffered with SI joint pain, my lower back locking up, rotated pelvis and heel and arch pain since I was a teenager. After seeing a lot of people about this a Physio told me I have forefoot varus in my left foot and that my left knee falls inward. He told me this can be both a weak muscle thing and a structural thing, and that for me it is structural and can’t be fixed. He recommended orthotics which I’ve now been wearing for several years and core exercises. Since having my baby 18 months ago I’m seriously struggling with my pelvis constantly rotating to the right and my back muscles on that side going into spasm. Is there anything else you would recommend for me to try as I’m at my wits end 🙁

    1. Hello Catherine,

      With a structural fore foot varus, it is sometimes compensated by the hind foot collapsing inwards + knee falling inwards. As the left leg collapses, it can actually lead to an externally rotated left hip. This in turn can lead to a right rotated pelvis. As the pelvis rotates to the right, the torso generally follows the right rotation. As the body attempted to straighten up from this Right rotated position, the left side of the lower back is recruited to constantly stop the torso from falling to the right.

      Are you still with me? It can be quite confusing. Here is a picture that might make it a bit clearer:

      Now the question is how would you address it? If everything started with the fore foot, you would need to start here but since it is structural, there may be some limitations here.

      Have a look at this post: How to fix a pelvic rotation. It might be the next area you need to focus on.

      Mark

      1. I have this problem but i have a scoliosis that sticks out on my lower right side so my lower back on the right is really really tight(big bump of muscle because ive been working out for 17 years ) My left lower back is really really weak and long and has been getting spastic pain for the last few months(cant do any squat/deadlift type movements even on bodyweight)

        Starting your flat feet workout + rotated right pelvis. Will work on lateral pelvic tilt after those are better. My problem is that the Toe control part is impossible(even if i hold the toes with my hand), i have 0 control. Any idea what to do? Will it probably come once the other part of the workout makes my feet a bit better? I just ordered toe separators, maybe it’ll help.

        Thanks a lot for your site, i have been working with a physio for 8months and youtube videos but i have so many issues that im overwhelmed. Now i can just follow your 2 pages and not worry about the rest for a little bit

        1. Hi Max,

          Toe control is crucial! Many of my patients have no idea that you are even meant to be moving them!

          It’s all about practice and time.

          Keep up the good work.

          (and great idea tackling 2 issues so start off with. It is easy to get overwhelmed 🙂 )
          Mark

  9. Hi Mark, Long story warning. I have flat feet and used orthotics years ago. Stopped using them and had no pain. Then bought minimalist zero drop runners with a wide toe box and took a year long transition period before incorporating into full time  use. But then developed  plantar fasciitis on my right foot which at first was acute for a few days after a run but now turned chronic  about 6 months ago with the pain often moving around the edge of the heel. So no more runs. Started using toe separators to control pronation. A podiatrist said I need custom orthotics, and to ditch the minimalist zero drop shoes and the toe separators and  get runners with more support and a heel. Told me nothing other than orthotics will work as  I have an unstable first metatarsal and tight calves. I am reluctant about returning to  orthotics. Now two days ago along with the heel pain I am also feeling slight tenderness when toe-ing off that I feel at the bottom edge of my right big toe joint an inch in from the inside edge of the foot. Slightly  tender when I palpate ( sesamoid issue?). I admit this development has reduced my resistance toward  orthotics. Also has me backing off a bit on the toe separators. I have been doing similar foot exercises for a month but have now settled on your foot exercise routine. Am able to do these way better on my injured right foot than my left, which seems surprising if I am short on foot strength.  Should I get the orthotics as a short term transition solution while I strengthen the feet as you recommend? Maybe also get a new runner with more support and a wide toe box like an Altra? …. which however is still a zero drop. Very interested in your suggestions

    1. Hi Oswald,

      Orthotics are great to temporarily support your feet and reduce symptoms whilst you recover.

      … however, If you are able to strengthen your feet and are committed to doing so, I would try to wean off the orthotics as soon as you have developed sufficient amount of strength/control in the foot.

      If you would like to continue running, you will need to get a shoe with a bit more support as to not aggravate the issue. Similarly, once your feet become strong, you can transition out of the support shoe.

      However, keep in mind, it takes quite a bit of foot training to get to a stage where you can run without support! (but it is definitely possible)

      Mark

  10. Hi Mark, my daughter is 10 years has flat feet, she’s using orthothics, but it look like it didnt help alot. Now she has bunion and her bone at her back become bigger. And she looks like has rounded shoulder. How to fix it? And dows she still need orthotic?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Getting the young ones to do exercises is very difficult!

      Your best option is to get her out of the shoes and walk around barefoot on different types of terrain (try to avoid the completely flat hard ground). If she gets symptoms from this, you will need to figure out the maximum duration she can perform this without pain reproduction and stay within that limit.

      I am not a big fan of foot orthotics as I feel that the muscles can be trained to become stronger without it.

      For rounded shoulders: How to fix rounded shoulders.

      Mark

  11. Hi Mark, my daughter is 9 years old and she have flat feet with ankles wear inward, while she walk she always keep her feet pointing outside, and it looks like she have a duck walk. She start running, but it doesn’t helps a lot till now. We will start your excercises today, hope that they will help her. Best wishes from Macedonia.

  12. Ok! Hello I’m Mickey and I do believe ive had these flat feet since day one. Im 31 in a few days!! Here’s the thing, I dont experience too much pain unless Im wearing insane high heels or been walking for a long distance. I do experiece a very painful Charlie horse like cramp where my arch should be at times…painnnnnn! Here’s another kicker, I wear heels/boots anything with a heel, im most comfortable on an incline…Im at a point wesr im embarrases to wear flats showing my legs due to my feet caving inward, its not appealing. So this is a great site I booked marked because i am going to incorporate these moves.

    1. Hey Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind.

      (Sorry! That was the first thing that came to my head.)

      It’s vital that you have strong feet.. especially if you are getting issues with them. Fix the problem whilst it’s small!

      All the best with these exercises!

      Mark

  13. Hi Mark, I don’t have fallen arches…I have feet that have never HAD arches. I got custom orthotics years ago and they help, but haven’t completely fixed my problem. I have poor posture and many issues that go with that. The only solution I can think of is surgery since I’ve tried many of the exercises you recommended over the years and nothing every gave me an arch. Thoughts?

    1. Hey Peter,

      Do you have structural flat feet? This means the orientation of your bones have caused a lack of an arch.

      If this is the case, I would still suggest strengthening your foot muscles as much as you can.

      I would advise against surgery if possible!

      Mark

      1. Hi Mark, I just luckily came across your blog. You are soooooo correct in advising against flat foot surgery. I had it and wish so much that I hadn’t! The doctor shortened my calf muscle to lift my arch, added a piece of bone to the bones on top of my foot, cut my Achilles in 3 places and shortened the toe next to my big toe and it sticks up now. Now my calf has lost its normal shape, my foot looks worse than it did, my balance is off now and unless I’m thinking that I shouldn’t limp, I limp. My foot feels uncomfortably tight. Before my surgery, when my hip hurt, I would put a weight belt on really tight at top thigh level just for about 30 minutes or less. That would relieve my hip pain. That doesn’t work for me anymore. I’m surely going to try your posture and flat foot exercises. Thank you for your expertise!

        1. Hey Nancy,

          Oh no! This is one of my pet peeves with surgeons who recommend surgery for musculoskeletal issues that can be improved with exercises alone.

          Good luck with the exercises!

          Mark

  14. Hi Mark,
    I left a comment on ”how to fix a rotated pelvis” page and for some reason it disappeared. I have a right rotated pelvis and as a result my left ankle is suspinated/right pronated and have a bunion only on my left foot. I’m planning to do the flat feet exercises in addition to the pelvis correction exercises to prevent my pelvis from rotating again after fixing it due to the bunion.

    I was wondering, in addition to all the exercises you mentioned in this post, would walking/exericisng with foot separators help reduce a bunion? If so, should I wear it only one side with a bunion or both sides?
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi Clare,

      All comments need to get screened before I allow them to appear on the website to avoid spam comments.

      Toe separators will help stretch out the space between your toes. I will also suggest that you avoid wearing narrow shoes for long periods (esp. high heels!)

      I would wear it both sides 🙂 I like to wear mine for a couple of hours when I’m at home.

      Mark

  15. Hi Mark ,
    I am a 33 year old woman who was diagnosed with posterior tibial tendon dysfunction Grade II in left foot in 2016 dec. I was told by my doctor to use orthotics which I never did . My left arch started falling but I did not notice it .One year later my left knee started paining and MRI results showed that I have lateralisation of patella in left knee. I think I have
    anterior pelvic tilt also Now I have started using
    orthotics and knee brace and following the exercises
    given by you for knee valgus and anterior pelvic tilt.
    I sometimes feel pain in posterior tibial tendon and in shin bone of my left leg . I dont know why but I feel little pain in my right leg posterior tibial tendon also and some pain in right knee also. Please help me . What exercises should I follow to get rid of so many problems. Being a mother of a little girl I dont get enough time to do whole lot of exercises. Help me please.

    1. Hi Niki,

      If you are short on time, I would just focus on the “SHORT FOOT” exercise for now.

      Engage the muscle and practise stepping with the other leg.

      Good foot position will help with a better knee position in the long term.

      Mark

  16. Hi! I am 34 and have had bunions since I was 13ish. One foot is much worse than the other. I overpronate but I’ve recently learned that if I activate my flutes while walking it’s not so bad. I’m going to try the exercises for sure (there’s hope for my ‘good’ foot but I’ve been putting off surgery of the bad foot to straighten my toe because it’s not causing me loads of pain as long as I wear the right shoes etc. however because my toe is so far over my foot is unstable no matter what I do. Wondering is it better for overall body alignment to get the op… surgeons all say go for it, but they are only looking at my foot. They don’t bother looking at the whole kinetic chain. I get the feeling these exercises may be good for strengthening my foot prior to surgery?

    1. Hi Jo,

      Bunion surgery will essentially render that big toe joint IMMOBILE as they usually have to fixate a rod through it after cutting the bone to force it straight.

      Without your big toe, there is going to be a chain reaction in the whole system. (which has already likely happened to some extent due to your bunion).

      So- Whether you have surgery or not, the body is going to have to compensate either way.

      Which ever way you decide to go – these exercises will help you out !

      Mark

  17. I am not sure if my flat-feet situation is structural or not. Do you have any suggestion about how to differentiate between the two types?

    Thank you ^^

  18. Hi Mark.
    Great post. I’m wondering if I should do the toe spread exercise while my foot is on the ground or in the air. I feel the dynamic is slightly different. What do you think?

  19. Hi, i’m currently trying to join the millitary. But i have flat overpronating feet. is it possible to get it so i can carry weights of up to and above 100lbs and not have my feet over pronating. it would be great to have a chat with you. I could really use your help.

    1. Hi Thomas,

      If you strengthen your foot muscles (and your flat foot is not structural), you should be able to lift 100lbs without the arches collapsing.

      Mark

  20. I am trying to do the toe lifts. On my left side it’s quite easy to lift big toe independently of others but not on my right foot. Any tips for training my right toe to activate? It’s a bit like being able to wink with your left eye not your right in that seems very hard to get my brain to do it!

  21. I am 22 year old.I have flat foot,but when i stand on toes ,a little arch appears.Actually I want to join Army,and flat foot is not accepted.
    Is there is any way that how will i fix my flat foot as soon as possible?
    Eagerly waiting for ur answer Sir.

  22. Hello, do you think fallen Arches can contribute to my big toe adduction, meaning the big toe is pointing more medial instead of straight ahead? This issue is causing me to have pretty wide feet. I’m 35 yr female and am trying to purchase supportive shoes for work. I can wear athletic shoes so I got Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 but cannot find any that do not rub against my big toe. I’m not sure if it’s ok to rub as long as it’s not painful? I keep ordering the next size up and returning (by mail) the old size. I’m up to men’s 9 EEEE. please help!

    1. Hi Sierra,

      Collapsing arches can cause you to place your weight on the side of your big toe (as opposed to directly underneath it) as you push off during walking. It will also lead to a flattening your foot causing a wide appearance.

      This will cause your big toe deviate towards the other toes and leads to issues like big toe bunions.

      Try to find a shoe with a wide foot box. The problem with most shoes these days is that they are far too narrow at the front! (which will squash your toes together… even worse for high heels!)

      Mark

  23. Hi there, Mark. Great site. You really give great and thoughtful instructions on how to fix most of the posture problems that have become so rampant in our society. I have a question regarding flat feet/fallen arches. In the first picture you are able to get your feet to be totally flat,and after this in the second picture you somehow correct your feet so that it has a vissible arch. How are you able to do this. My second question is regarding the genetic factor of flat feet. You are stating that most people have problems with their feet muscles,but at the same time I have seen people that don’t do feet exercises and have pronounced arches. Is creating an arch in your feet something you have to consciously be doing the whole time? In their default position sometimes my arches have a tendency to flatten a bit and this concerns me.

    Thanks in advance Mark. Keep on the good work with the site 🙂

    1. Hi Christopher,

      A healthy foot should be able to transition between foot pronation (flat arch) and supination (arch). Both are important and normal in gait pattern.

      As some people have more flat arches… you will also have people that will have a high arch.

      People with high arches can have a whole lot of problems as well. (Keep in mind, the goal is to have a neutral arch when standing).

      These exercises should be able to help with your flat arches. In the beginning, you want to consciously engage the arch muscles as to get the stronger. With continued effort, it will become natural for you.

      Mark

  24. Hi Mark!
    I’m 16 years old and I have just realized that I have had Anterior Pelvic Tilt AND flat feet for a long time. I want to fix these issues but I can not be sure what I should do. Is my APT caused by flat feet? If so, can I still fix my APT by doing APT exercises? Do flat feet exercises help fixing my APT? How exactly are they related to each other? Thanks for your reply.

    1. Hey Haydar,

      Your flat feet and APT may be biomechanically linked. (If it helps – Think of it kind of like a stack of dominoes.)

      But then again, they could be 2 separate issues.

      If you physically hold your foot (and get someone to do for you) in a neutral position, and your pelvis positions improves, then it is likely that the foot is contributing to the pelvis.

      Similarly – if your correct your pelvis position, and the feet automatically improve, then then pelvis is contributing to the foot.

      In many cases, it actually goes both ways. Pelvis < -affects/and is affected by->Foot

      Mark

  25. 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.

      Mark

  26. 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?

    Thanks.

      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!

  27. 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?
    Thanks

    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.

      Mark

  28. 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?
        Thanks

  29. 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?

  30. 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,

  31. 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.

      Mark

  32. 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.

      Mark

  33. 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.
      Mark

  34. 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

  35. 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!

  36. 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!

      Mark

  37. 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,
    Tom

    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!

      Mark

  38. 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.

      Mark

  39. 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.

      Mark

  40. 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.

      Mark

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