The arch of your foot helps you stay balanced, supports you as you stand, and makes movements like running, walking, and jumping more comfortable. Your arch helps you absorb the impact from physical activity and distributes your body weight evenly across your feet.
If you have flat feet, your arch is nonexistent or very low. You may not have problems due to flat feet, but many people experience complications. David J. Kaplan, DPM, and our staff offer a range of treatments that help people with flat feet find relief and normal movement.
Here are some of the exercises we recommend as part of your care plan.
About 20% of people never develop arches. This form of flat feet can be a hereditary condition and is known as flexible flat foot. You might have noticed that most babies don’t have arches, which is normal, but they typically develop them by age 6.
In some 30% of people, their arches fall in adulthood. This could be due to an inherited foot problem or a traumatic injury. Pregnant women and people living with obesity and chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure are also more prone to fallen arches.
Symptoms associated with flat feet include:
Flat feet can affect the way you walk, causing pain and dysfunction.
Dr. Kaplan customizes your flat feet treatment plan. He may recommend certain types of footwear or custom-made orthotics (shoe inserts). In some cases, surgical intervention is necessary.
Dedication to at-home exercises can also help you find relief from the symptoms of flat feet.
Take a tennis ball and place it between your ankles. Apply pressure, squeezing inward. Stand up on your tiptoes while you squeeze the ball and stay still for a few seconds. Slowly lower your heels to the floor. Work your way up to three sets of 10 repetitions.
The connective tissue that runs from your heel to behind your toes is known as the plantar fascia. Flat feet stress your plantar fascia and can contribute to the painful condition called plantar fasciitis.
Sit in a chair and cross your right foot over your left knee. Stretch the bottom of your foot by pulling your toes back, and then massage the sole of your foot for 30 seconds. Switch sides. Do three sets on each side.
When you have poor range of ankle motion, try this exercise. Stand in front of a wall at a bit less than arm’s length. Keep your feet parallel while extending your left leg forward and positioning the right one behind you.
Press through your right heel and bend your left knee as you do this. Hold the position for 20-30 seconds, repeat on the left side. Do three sets on each side.
Place your feet flat on the ground while sitting in a chair. Bring the ball of your foot toward your heel, making a dome with your arch for eight seconds, then rest. Avoid crunching or extending your toes.
Do just one foot at a time, repeating the exercise 8-12 times. Work toward being able to do this movement while standing.
With your feet planted firmly on the ground, gradually lift your big toes. Keep your other toes planted on the ground. Keep this position for five seconds and slowly lower your big toes.
Next, gradually lift the other four toes while keeping your big toe planted for another five seconds, then gradually lower them. Do this six to eight times for each side.
Podiatry care helps flat feet, but so do your shoe choices, lifestyle, and at-home commitment to exercise.
Call one of our offices in San Mateo or Half Moon Bay, California, to set up a podiatry appointment and get all the care you need to keep your feet healthy. You can also contact us online.