3 Effective Exercises To Combat Flat Feet
Let's face it, your foot health can affect your entire body and your quality of life! Please read below to find 3 exercises to improve the strength and position of your feet, ankles, and knees!
Your feet support the weight of your body. One of the most common foot challenges that people face is having a reduced arch (a.k.a. flat feet), caused by weak muscles or structural abnormalities. When you have a diminished foot arch, your ankles are forced inward towards each other, and your knees are pulled inward in reference to your hips. The inward sloping ankles and knees causes strain on your inner/medial knees and outer/lateral hips. This strain on your hips is often transferred to the low back. When this occurs, your low back muscles must work extra hard in an effort to maintain your body in a standing upright position.
A problem with your feet can cause joint and muscle problems throughout your entire body. If there's a way to improve your foot health, why wouldn't you try it?!
The most important component of healthy feet, is the ability to place the pressure on the outer/lateral portion of your feet when you are standing. When walking, the correct foot position is onto your heel first, then the weight of your body should follow a line along the outer border of your foot, and then lastly on the ball of your foot for toe-off. In order to complete this action, your legs and feet must be strong enough to keep your ankles straight, and prevent the ankles from sloping inward.
When the intrinsic foot muscles and leg muscles are weak, they may not be able to keep up with maintaining proper ankle positioning during your normal day-to-day walking activities. These weak muscles become tired and can experience an overuse injury. One way this can present itself is the appearance of flat feet, which may eventually lead to Plantar Fasciitis. As with most overuse injuries, the only way to stop the problem from recurring is by strengthening the muscles that are being overused. If your muscles are strong enough to withstand more activity than what you are currently asking of them, they won't get damaged from overuse! This is why you should start doing these 3 exercises today!
For example, if you are a parent who is lifting a 20lb baby 20 times a day, your arms and shoulders may be painful and sore due to this amount of daily workload. But, if you gradually increase your workout regimen to include dumbbell curls and shoulder raises of increasing weight up to 30 lb weights, at 6 sets of 10, your muscles will strengthen and adapt to being able to easily lift the 20lb baby, because they can handle the 30lbs.
Here are some simple exercises that you can do on a daily basis to improve the positioning of your feet, ankles, and knees!
Calf raises: standing on a flat surface, slowly raise your heels up as high as you can. Try to count to 5 on your way up, pause for 3 seconds, and then lower for a count of 5. Perform 3 sets of 10.
2. Prison walks: Loop a theraband around your feet as shown below. Keeping your knees slightly bent and angled outwards, take 10 steps to the right, and then 10 steps to the right. Repeat 3 times.
3. Toe crawl: Standing on a flat surface, scrunch your toes and pull yourself forward. Complete 1 meter per day. Tip: this is easiest on hardwood or linoleum, with socks on your feet.
Thank you for reading! Please let me know if you have any questions or if you have any feedback on these exercises!
Author: Dr. Casey Campbell BSc., D.C.