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If you have flat feet, you know the annoyance of spending hours trying on shoes to find the ones that will work for you. You probably also know the frustrations of trying orthotic devices, arch supports, massage, and different therapies that just don't help. Even worse, you know pain. But, you're not alone. About 30% of people have flat feet. In fact, I'm one of them. I know first hand the struggles that come with having flat feet. I've tried things that don't work, and I've discovered things that do work. I'm going to share with you the best flat feet exercises and stretches that have helped me and will help you too.
- What You Need to Know About Flat Feet
- What NOT to Do for Flat Feet
- Best Flat Feet Exercises and Stretches Explained
What You Need to Know About Flat Feet
All children are actually born with flat feet. However, after the age of three, most children will begin developing an arch in both of their feet as the ligaments and tendons in their feet develop. But, if the child does not develop an arch, they are at risk for life-long foot problems.
I have had severe flat feet ever since I was a kid. No orthotic devices or typical stretching techniques seemed to do anything for me. Then, I found a few things that could actually give me relief. Before I share these simple exercises with you, let's go over a few key things about flat feet.
Essentially, if you have flat feet, you have a situation where you don't have an arch, it's flat.
Tendons attach at the heel and foot bones to form an arch. These tendons are like tight bands. Several tendons in your foot and lower leg actually work together to form the arches in your feet.
When your tendons and everything are working correctly and are all pulling the proper amount, your foot forms an arch. When the ligaments and tendons do not pull properly, there is little or no arch.
Flat feet are also commonly known as fallen arches. Usually, a person with this condition won't have arches in both of their feet, but it's possible to have a collapsed arch in just one foot. When your arches are non-existent, the entire sole of your foot rests flat on the ground, and there is no slight curvature when looking at the side of the foot.
When looking at a person's foot that does have arches, you'll notice a slight curve when looking at the side of their foot. Their feet also won't completely rest flat on the ground. The heel of the foot, the ball of the foot, and the toes will touch the ground with a slight space between the foot and ground where the middle of the foot is.
Flat feet can be caused by conditions, including:
- Genetics (good ole' genetics)
You also have a higher risk of having flat feet if you have a muscular or neurological disease such as:
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spina bifida
- Cerebral palsy
Symptoms of flat feet:
- Your feet tire easily
- You experience pain or aches in the feet, especially where your arches should be and in the heels
- Some foot movements are difficult or limited
- You have back and leg pain
Some people don't even realize they have fallen arches until an injury occurs related to the condition. It's crucial to understand this condition, the risk factors, and how to properly care for flat feet to avoid this from happening.
What NOT to Do for Flat Feet
Not knowing how to care for flat feet properly can lead to pain, stress, and imbalances in other parts of the body. Correctly caring for your flat feet can actually help bring your entire body into alignment. It will also help correct other issues in your body that have been caused by having flat feet.
The problem is that not many people who have flat feet know how to care for them correctly. In fact, there is one huge misconception concerning caring for flat feet. Everyone wants to massage and stretch the bottom of their foot, but you should actually do the opposite.
It might be natural to try to fix the area where you're feeling pain, but this is not what's most effective if you have flat feet. While working on the bottom of the foot may give you temporary relief, you should actually work on the top part of your foot. Always work on the opposite side of where the problem is.
Well, you really risk damaging your foot and making matters worse by working on the bottom of the foot. The flat feet exercises and stretches that I'm about to share with you will relax the muscle on the bottom part of your foot by stimulating the top part of your foot.
Best Flat Feet Exercises and Stretches Explained
I do first want to say that these flat feet exercises and stretches won't necessarily correct your flat feet, but they will give you a lot of relief. They will also be a more long-term solution than things like orthotic devices. These are also the same exercises and stretches that you would want to do if you have plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is essentially inflammation of the thick band of tissue that connects the heel bone to the toes and causes a lot of pain in the bottom of the foot.
Let's dive right in.
- While sitting, lift one leg and place your ankle across your opposite knee.
- Hold your ankle with one hand.
- Take your toes with the other hand and pull them downwards and towards your body.
- Repeat this, stretching your foot about ten times.
With this exercise, you're stretching the muscles that reach from the top part of your toes to your knee. This stretch will send signals to relax the bottom of the foot.
- Sit on your knees and ankles and slightly lean back on to your heels.
- From the side point of view, if you look at your ankles and the top part of your feet, you can see that you're naturally stretching the front part of your feet.
- Now, you want to rock slightly from side to side to continue stretching your foot muscles.
- Sit down, lift one leg, and place your ankle across your opposite knee.
- Hold your ankle firmly with one hand and stimulate the top of your foot. Do this by rubbing the top of your foot with your thumb.
- You're going to want to start at your ankle and slowly work your way down to your toes.
- Do this for about a minute on each foot.
For people with extremely flat feet, you will feel some tenderness as you do this. But, this is a faster way for people with flat feet to get relief.
* Bonus Tip
If you have cramping in your toes, feet, or calves, you need a little bit of calcium. Take calcium magnesium before bed, and do not take it with food.
People with flat feet, also known as fallen arches, don't have an arch in one or both of their feet. Without an arch, your feet, from your heel to your toes, are often in a lot of pain. Your feet are your foundation, and not having arches can affect your entire body.
While things like orthotic devices and supportive shoes may help temporarily, they never seem to really bring long-term relief. I know, I've been there. But, I've also found what does work.
After you try these flat feet exercises, you'll notice that the bottoms of your feet feel much better. If you have flat feet, try these exercises today and let me know how it goes.