5 Best Exercises for Flat Feet

Pes planus, or flat feet, is a common condition characterised by a collapse of the foot's inside arch (known as the medial arch). It does not often cause pain or discomfort, but some people attribute flat feet to pain elsewhere in the body (like the knees, hips or spine). Fortunately, there are a number of exercises that can strengthen the muscles and tendons of the foot and ankle, thereby reducing foot pain and enhancing overall foot health.

Your medial arch is the curved part of the foot that helps to support the arch of your foot and stabilize your foot during walking and running. It is an incredible shock absorber, and many therapists believe the efficiency of the foot is far better than that of a trainer or shoe.

We often get asked at Surrey Physio, “should I get a foot orthotic?” Generally we say no, first do the exercises to strengthen your arches. The problem with orthotics is putting them into different shoes, and changing your foot biomechanics too quickly for your body to adapt to the orthotic. However, if you are in pain and have tried everything else, they could be useful.

It should be noted that many people genetically have flat feet. This is commonly seen in African nations, for example, where research tells us that there is a higher prevalence of flat feet, but a lower prevalence of foot pain. Hence, we cannot necessarily attribute flat feet to foot pain.

However, the medial arch can drop over time, and in cases such as this, strengthening exercises can be very helpful to maintain intrinsic muscular strength and stability in the arch of the foot. Balance exercises may also benefit individuals with pes planus. As you balance, so you require the small intrinsic foot muscles to activate to help you stabilise your foot. Exercising on uneven surfaces can also be useful, for example, on a BOSU call or wobble board. It goes without saying to be careful not to fall over, hold on to a wall when you first start.

Let’s look at our top five exercises for Flat Feet

1. Tip Toe Walking: Walk on tip toes. Start by doing it in trainers, but when you get more confident do it in bare feet. It’s a fantastic foot, ankle and leg strengthening exercise to the ligaments and muscles. It also helps improve balance.

2. Calf Heel Raise One Leg: Stand upright on one leg. Slowly raise up onto your toes, and control the movement back down. Hold on to a wall or table for support. This exercise will strengthen the calf muscle and ankle joint.

3. Heel Walking: Walk forwards on your heels. Start the exercise wearing trainers, and progress to bare feet as your feet get stronger. Use a wall to provide support if required. This is a great foot and ankle strengthening exercise, and improves balance.

4. Ankle Plantar Flexion Isometrics: Place one foot resting on a towel on the wall. Push your foot into the towel. This is an isometric strengthening exercise for the foot and ankle.

5. Inward Turn Calf Heel Raise: Stand up and place your heels towards each other, but keep your toes separated. Lift your heels up, and place your weight through your toes. Hold this position, then return to the floor. Repeat as required. This exercise is good for balance and calf strengthening.

By performing these strengthening and walking exercises, individuals with pes planus can improve their foot health and strengthen their medial arch to help prevent further flattening of the foot. To maximise the benefits of these exercises, consistency is essential so practice daily.

If you are a therapist and like the exercises and information in this document, please go to www.rehabmypatient.com and sign up to this amazing exercise prescription software. If you are a patient and need some advice, treatment or a consultation, please go to www.surreyphysio.co.uk/bookonline. We provide virtual and face-to-face appointments with our expert team.

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You can find useful and additional information here: https://www.rehabmypatient.com/toe/flat-foot-pes-planus