Despite having a key role in supporting your body’s mobility, your feet may not be tops on your mind when you think about exercising. But if you have flat feet, strengthening exercises may prevent foot problems now and in the future.
At Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic in Lodi, New Jersey, our skilled podiatrist, Dr. Sean Rosenblum, believes in the power of preventive foot care for keeping your feet healthy.
Flat feet are a common foot condition that affects the mechanics of your feet, changing your gait and weight distribution to your other weight-bearing joints. Flat feet can cause foot, ankle, knee, hip, or back problems.
Here, we want to share some flat feet-strengthening exercises that may delay or prevent these other problems.
About flat feet
Flat feet are present when the arch in your foot disappears when you stand. If the entire sole of your foot touches the ground when you stand or walk, you have flat feet.
Everyone is born with flat feet; the arches form around age 6. However, some people never develop an arch, or their arch collapses (fallen arches). There are several types of flat feet, including:
Flexible flat feet
Flexible flat feet are the most common and usually appear during childhood or adolescence. With this type, you can see your arch when sitting, but it disappears when you stand. Over time, flexible flat feet cause the tendons and ligaments in the arch to stretch and tear, causing foot pain.
Rigid flat feet
Rigid flat feet usually develop during adolescence. With this type, you have no visible arch when sitting or standing, making the foot very inflexible.
Adult-acquired flat feet
Adult-acquired flat feet, also called fallen arches, is when the arch unexpectedly collapses, causing the foot to turn outward.
Strengthening exercises for flat feet
For our patients with flat feet, we create personalized treatment plans based on type and symptoms. This may include strengthening exercises you can do at home, such as:
1. Arch lifts
Arch lifts specifically work the arch in your foot, maintaining structure and strength. Sit or stand with your feet parallel to each other. Keeping your toes and heels in contact with the floor, roll your weight to the outside of your foot while you lift the arch and hold.
2. Heel raises
Heel raises are a simple exercise you can do anywhere. Stand with your feet firmly planted on the floor, then slowly raise your heels and hold for a few seconds, then lower your heel. Use a chair or wall to help you maintain balance.
3. Towel pickup
Towel pickup is a good exercise for strengthening the deep muscles in your foot. Lay a towel flat on the floor. While you sit in a chair, use your toes to pick up the towel and hold for a few seconds, then release.
4. Toe lifts
Toe lifts are similar to heel raises. While your feet are planted firmly on the ground, slowly lift your big toe, hold for a few seconds, and then lower. Next, slowly lift your other toes, hold for a few seconds, and lower.
5. Calf stretch
The calf stretch improves ankle range of motion. While standing with your feet parallel to each other, extend the left leg forward and position the right leg behind you, then gently press into your right heel as you bend your left knee and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Massage your feet before starting your flat feet exercises to warm up the muscles and avoid stretching the foot to prevent further stretching of the ligaments and tendons.
Other flat feet treatments
Flat feet-strengthening exercises can help reduce or eliminate pain problems. If you have acute pain, we recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). You may also benefit from custom-made orthotics for your shoes. These provide additional arch support when you’re standing, walking, and exercising.
With self-care and clinical attention, you can live an active and pain-free life with flat feet.
If your flat feet are giving you trouble, it’s time to schedule an appointment. Call our office or book an appointment online today.