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, it’s time to start some stretches!

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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