Flat feet are structural and easily seen when you glance at the soles of your feet. If you have no visible foot arch, this may be hereditary or from wearing shoes that did not support the arches. Rebuilding the arches in the foot bed can begin with foot exercises often recommended by health professionals to people with visibly flat feet or those with very shallow arches. If you have serious ankle, knee, low back or neck pain, it may be related to your flat feet and you should see a doctor for medical guidance.
- Skill level:
Identify where your arches are in your feet. Arches run along near the instep of the feet, under the baseline of your toes, down the centre of the soles of your feet and a smaller arch near your heel. Doing these simple exercises below consistently may help you rebuild your arches -- these network of muscles -- so that within a year, you may notice you have a visible arch in your feet.
Begin by sitting in a chair and come to sit on the edge of it so your feet are easily flat on the floor and knees bent to a 90-degree angle. Place a thick towel flat in front of your feet so that both feet are fully on the towel. Grab the towel with your toes and roll the towel away from you. Doing so will call on five different network of muscles on the bottoms of your feet: strengthening these muscles can help bring a functional arch back to your feet. Repeat this rolling exercise 2 or 3 times.
Scatter a handful of large marbles near your chair. Sitting in the chair, use one foot to grasp one marble at a time and drop it into a small bucket nearby. Continue until you have move your small pile of marbles in the bucket. Repeat to the second foot. Do once more for each foot. Doing this enables you to articulate all the muscles in the foot that will literally bring the "spring back into your step."
Stand up from your chair and set your bare feet flat on the floor so they are hip-width distance apart. Imagine that you are standing at the beach with sand below your feet. Lift the toes of your right foot and imagine you are grabbing as much sand under your foot: grab hold of it and release it. Continue with this lifting, grabbing and releasing action for 30 seconds. You may notice that the muscles on the sole of your feet tire: these often ignored muscles are getting a workout to strengthen weakened muscles. Repeat to the second side.
Wear ergonomic shoes that support your arches and cup your heels fully. Flip flops do not do this, nor do shoes that are completely flat in the foot bed. Women's shoes with a heel higher than 5 cm (2 inches) tend to be less ergonomic: they tilt the pelvis forward into an anterior tilt, creating an exaggerated curve in the low back (lordosis) and thrust the head forward, creating compression in the neck. High-heeled shoes can create too high an arch that will overstretch the plantar fascia that runs along the soles of the feet.
Wear clogs to exercise your feet to help rebuild your arches. Clogs exercise your legs, too. Clogs are often worn by nurses, chefs, waitresses and others that stand on their feet all day. Well-designed clogs keep the feet healthy by "forcing" the toes to grip the foot bed and the network of muscles in the foot are engaged, stretched, and strengthened to preserve the arches in the feet.
Tips and warnings
- If you choose to wear high heels to work, for example, kick them off your feet when you are seated at your desk and move your feet over a "footsie roller." These foot rollers are usually made from wood, ridged and they stretch the plantar fascia muscles on the soles of your feet. Later, remember to do at least one of the above exercises to "repair" your arches from wearing those high heels.
- See a chiropodist or a physical therapist if you are not able to walk comfortably because of your fallen arches.