Whether you were born with flatfeet or your arches have fallen over time (perhaps from a weakening of the posterior tibial tendon), the condition can be painful. Most experts advise against treating fallen arches if you aren't having pain. If you do have pain, there are a few things you can do. If you're not ready for orthotic inserts or surgery, arch-lifting exercises are the best option.
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Things you need
Sit down on the floor with your legs extended and knees locked. Your feet should be parallel to each other.
Stretch your toe muscles to extend your toes straight, as far as you can, and hold for at least three seconds. Repeat.
Curl just your toes upward, without allowing the rest of your feet or ankles to move. Hold the "up" curl for three to five seconds before returning to the straight position.
Curl your toes down toward the floor, using only your toe muscles. Hold the position for up to five seconds before returning to the starting position.
Repeat the exercise as many times as you're able in one sitting.
Stand two steps from a wall and prop yourself forward, bracing your weight on the outside of your forearms. Lean your forehead against your hands.
Bend one leg at the knee and step back with the other, stretching it out behind you.
Curl your toes up toward the wall. You should feel the pull in your heel and calf. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
Switch feet and repeat the exercise on the other leg. Perform as many sets of standing calf stretches as you can during the session.
Stand near a table positioned, if possible, at mid-hip. Your feet should be in a parallel position.
Bend at the knees until they're in line with your feet. Don't move your back or other muscles to bend. Place a hand on the table for support, if necessary. This is called the plié position in ballet.
Lift up on your toes, stretching your heels. Hold the position for a couple of seconds.
Still in plié position, with heels lifted, slowly straighten your legs. Lower your heels to the floor in a slow, steady motion.
Repeat as many times as possible.
Tips and warnings
- For added support, you can wear comfortable shoes and your orthotic inserts while performing the standing calf stretches and the plié calf raises.
- Beware of orthotics that aren't custom-fitted, or are purchased from a supplier of questionable quality. Bad orthotic inserts might be worse for your feet than none at all.
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