Do the inside borders of your feet, or perhaps just one of your feet lie flat onto the floor when you stand on them?
This can give you problems both in your ankle, your knee, your hip and even your low back if you are of those that use your feet much during the day.
Some of us have inherited this flat foot (or overpronation, fallen arches or pes planus as it’s also called), as a joint dysfunction. This means that the bone alignment of your foot is flat.
This is a structural flat foot, and there is no conservative (non invasive) treatment to fix this. You then might need insoles and other supports to help normalize your base.
The vast majority of us have a functional flat foot, which means that the muscles that keep our normal arch, for some reason have stopped doing their job.
You can check this by seeing the difference in your arch when you are lying down and when you are standing. If you have your arch lying down and they flatten when you put weight on them, you have a muscular, functional flat foot.
Here are some basic tips for you to get your foot back into being a stable and strong base for your body:
1) FOOT CORE STRENGTHENING
Sit with your foot on the floor.Shorten your foot by tightening the muscles on the sole of your foot. Keep your toes flat against the floor, and drag the base of your big toe towards your heel, as to make your foot shorter.
You should feel a strong contraction under your foot. It might feel like the inside of your foot gets a bit into a cramp – then you’re doing it right!
Hold 5 seconds.
Repeat 2-3 sets of 10 times.
2) TOE AND ARCH RAISE
Stand on the foot keeping the three weight bearing points: the ball of the big toe, the little toe, and the heel. Raise all of your toes as much as you can, maintaining the tripod position
Hold this position for a few seconds and slowly lower the toes only while maintaining the arch! Feel slight tension in the bottom of your foot and arch.
Repeat 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.
2) STANDING HEEL RAISE
Stand tall, with feet hip-width apart, weight evenly on both feet. Toes and knees pointing forwards.Rise onto your toes in the direction of your second toe. In a controlled manner return to the starting position.Note: Avoid shifting the weight towards the outer side of your forefoot during heel raise. You may also try doing just one leg at the time – make sure you keep your body straight and avoid rotating.
Repeat 2-3 sets of 20 times (less if you do one leg raise)
3) FULL BODY LEAN
Stand with your feet hip width apart. Activate your foot core/short foot (exercise number one).
Lean your whole body straight forward so you need to use your feet and toe muscles pressing into the ground to keep your balance. Return to starting position.
Repeat 10 times.
If your ankle or your big toe is stiff and can’t fully bend, your foot will need to collapse the arch to permit the movement when you walk or run. You therefore might need to stretch the muscles around your foot and ankle.
Here are two stretches that will help you:
1) CALF STRETCH COMBINED (Gastrocnemius and Soleus)
Stand on a step with the ball of one foot on the edge.Start by keeping the knee straight and pushing your heel towards the floor until you can feel a stretch in your calf. Hold 20-30 seconds.
Continue by bending your knee so that the intensity of the stretch increases in the Achilles tendon area. Hold 20-30 seconds.
Repeat 3 times.
2) PLANTAR FASCIA RELEASE
Place a small, firm ball under your foot. Roll your foot over the ball so as to massage underneath the foot (the plantar fascia).
Do this 1-3 minutes.