Looking for exercises to fix flat feet? We got you! But before we get into the exercises that can help address this “problem”, we first want to address that flat feet in and of itself is NOT a diagnosis and NOT the sole cause of your pain! Pain is multi-factorial and while having “flat feet” or dynamic overpronation can place the most stress on certain structures, our bodies are extremely strong and capable of handling that stress most of the time. That being said, this article is going to show you a series of exercises that will not only help strengthen your foot arch but even potentially reverse the appearance of your flat feet!

 

Do You Really Need To Fix Flat Feet?

Flat feet get blamed for a myriad of conditions. Plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, patellofemoral pain, knock knees – you name it. And while having flat feet may in fact be associated with many of these conditions, it’s near impossible to put the sole blame of the condition or diagnosis on simply having flat feet. In many situations, it could be argued that the condition (ie plantar fasciitis) may have occurred first and contributed to the development of flat feet! More on this in a bit. So, if we can’t place the blame solely on our flat feet for our pain, do flat feet need any fixing? We would argue no you don’t more than we would suggest yes!

Build A Stronger Foot To Improve Your Overall Foot Health!

foot and ankle prehab program fix flat feet the prehab guys

The Foot & Ankle complex connects your leg to the environment. It acts to translate and accept forces from the leg to the ground and from the ground to the leg. Whether your goal is to decrease discomfort, improve walking ability, or prevent future foot & ankle injuries from happening you’re in the right place!

 

Think about this – your flat feet didn’t just develop overnight. It took years and years for you to even notice you had flat feet. My guess is that you didn’t even notice them until someone told you, or you started developing pain and someone said it was because of your flat feet. Our bodies get into trouble when the loads we place on them are more than what they can handle. When it comes to “flat feet”, this could be after changing into a new pair of shoes that have more “give” than your older pair, thus allowing your foot to pronate more and stress certain tissues more than what they are used to. Or it could be that your training volume increased as you prepped for an upcoming race or event, and certain tissues were stressed more than what they are used to.

READ: Running After A Stress Fracture

running stress fracture fix flat feet prehab guys

 

When it comes to “fixing” your flat feet, we can work on those external factors discussed above while at the same time strengthening those same structures that need to have more strength and capacity to handle the loads that you are placing on them. The following exercises will do just that. Strengthening some of your foot intrinsics while also improving ankle ROM to potentially alleviate excessive stresses on certain foot structures. Give em a shot, they’re harder than they look!

 

Watch This For Foot Arch Strengthening Exercises!

 

Address Mobility

The number one cause (or result?) of flat feet is a lack of ankle dorsiflexion mobility. Ankle dorsiflexion is the ability of your ankle to point upwards. In a standing position, this is our knees going past our toes. When we take steps, go up or downstairs, or even squat or lunge, our ankles go into relative dorsiflexion with each step or rep. As you can imagine, ankle dorsiflexion occurs a lot in day-to-day life!

Flat Feet ankle dorsiflexion

If you have limited ankle dorsiflexion, your body will find a way to compensate to achieve the task at hand. Our bodies are smart and if we have to go down a few flights of stairs, we’re going to do it! This means that to get our knees over our toes when we are going downstairs, that motion must come from another body region. That region is your arch!

Your arch will dynamically collapse (what it’s supposed to do and is normal) and allow your foot to pronate to give you that extra range of motion. When this is repeated over and over again, eventually it can lead to the arch sitting in a lower position – ie flat feet!

To address these ankle dorsiflexion mobility deficits, we want to improve the mobility of two different structures:

  • The calf muscle or gastroc-soleus complex
  • The ankle joint or the talocrural joint

3D Ankle Dorsiflexion Mobilization

Sample Ankle Dorsiflexion Mobility Overhaul Exercise

This is one of the easiest ways to work on your ankle mobility. The beauty of this exercise and demonstration is that you get to personalize and individualize the movement to your needs! You can also read further information on a blog we have that includes specific exercises to help improve stiffness of the foot and ankle! Follow along with Craig as he shows you:

  • Different angles to address

 

  • Being mindful of the position of your arch

 

  • What to do with your heel

 

  • How it sound feel and what you’re looking for

 

LISTEN: HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR ANKLE MOBILITY

ankle dorsiflexion fix flat feet exercises the prehab guys audio experience

 

Static Calf Gastrocnemius Stretch

 

Prehab Membership The Prehab Guys

The Prehab membership is the anti-barrier solution to keeping your body healthy. Access state-of-the-art physical therapy, fitness programs, and workouts online in the comforts of your own home or gym! Taking control of your health with exercise & education from the palm of your hand has never been easier. Get access to 50+ programs, 100+ unique workouts, and 3000+ exercises to build your own workout routines. Trial it for free, and learn how to get out of pain, avoid injury, and optimize your health with [P]rehab!

 

Perform Strengthening Exercises

While mobility work is absolutely critical to “fixing” a flat foot, all the mobility work in the world wouldn’t do anything if the muscles themselves that take the loads when the arch collapses or pronates are not strong enough! Strengthening these muscles takes some isolated work at first to learn how to maintain a strong and stable arch known as an active short foot. But the real key to strengthening your feet is to actually use the muscles in your feet during any and all standing exercises (duh!). This may seem obvious, but it’s extremely easy to stand on one leg, squat, or lunge without an active short foot. So once you’ve mastered the short foot holds exercise below, maintain an active short foot with all the other standing single leg exercises that follow!

 

Short Foot Holds With Theraband

Sample Foot And Ankle [P]rehab Program Exercise

 

Single Leg Woodpeckers

Sample Foot And Ankle [P]rehab Program Exercise

 

Closing Thoughts

By addressing ankle mobility deficits and strengthening the muscles of your arch, there is a high chance you work on decreasing the amount of stress placed on any tissues in your foot or lower leg that may be stressed due to overpronation, or flat feet. And hopefully, after reading this article, you will know that you are more than your anatomy! Simply having flat feet isn’t a death sentence!

 

Take Control of Your Foot & Ankle Health

foot and ankle prehab program fix flat feet the prehab guys

The foot and ankle programming you need at the tip of your fingers is HERE. Learn step-by-step progressions from Doctors of Physical Therapy and Strength & Conditioning Specialists to optimize your foot and ankle health.

 

About The Author

Michael Lau, PT, DPT, CSCS

[P]rehab Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer

michael lau the prehab guysMichael was born and raised in Northern California but now currently resides in Sunny SoCal ever since attending the University of California, Los Angeles as an undergraduate majoring in physiology. After his undergraduate studies, he received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from cross-town rival the University of Southern California. As a licensed physical therapist with a strong background in strength and conditioning, Michael likes to blend the realms of strength training and rehabilitation to provide prehab, or preventative rehabilitation, to his patients. A common human behavior is to address problems after they become an issue and far often too late, which is a reactionary approach. He believes the key to improved health care is education and awareness. This proactive approach-prehab-can reduce the risk of injuries and pain in the first place. He is a huge proponent of movement education and pain science. Clinically, he has a special interest in ACLR rehab and return to sport for the lower extremity athlete.

 

 

 

 

 

DISCLAIMER – THE CONTENT HERE IS DESIGNED FOR INFORMATION & EDUCATION PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT INTENDED FOR MEDICAL ADVICE.

About the author : Sherif Elnaggar PT, DPT, OCS

2 Comments

  1. Salma Anjum January 15, 2022 at 11:01 pm

    Very useful information. Thanks a lot for this

    • Team [P]rehab January 17, 2022 at 3:45 am

      You are most welcome, Salma!!

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