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What Are the Best Exercises for Flat Feet?

By Marisa O'Connor
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many different exercises for flat feet. They all work to build up and strengthen the inner muscles of the foot that are responsible for the arch. These exercises range from flexing the feet to moving and picking up objects with the feet to playing tug of war with a friend using only feet. Some instances of flat feet require surgery to correct, so be sure to talk to a doctor about any concerns.

One of the best exercises involves rolling a towel using only the toes. This exercise helps rebuild the muscles in the feet that are responsible for the foot arch. While sitting comfortably, with feet flat on the floor and knees at a 90-degree angle, place a thick towel in front of the feet so that both feet are fully on the towel. Using only the toes, roll the towel away from the body. For best results, repeat this exercise two or three times.

Exercises for flat feet can be very simple. One of these simple exercises is to sit with feet flat on the floor. Arch the feet by pulling the toes in toward the heels, raising the middle section of the feet off the floor. Another simple exercise can be done by crumpling a piece of cloth or tissue paper using only the toes. These exercise will help to build the muscles that create the natural foot arch.

Other exercises involve using the toes to move objects. Scatter some marbles on the floor and then pick them all up and put them back in the bowl or bucket they came in. Again, it is important to use only the feet. When all the marbles are returned, repeat using the other foot. A less messy alternative is to set a ruler or similar object on the floor and practice moving it around with the toes.

Some exercises for flat feet such as walking require extra support. Walking is a great way to exercise the whole body, but it can prove difficult and even painful for people with flat feet. Invest in some insoles to support the arch. There are a few insoles specially made for people with flat feet. Walking with this support is great exercise for the arch muscles in the feet and may even help bring back a natural arch.

More exercises for flat feet should be done while sitting on the floor. Lean back, with arms flat on the ground and behind the body and with the heels in front, also flat on the floor. Lift the hips off the ground, putting more weight on the heels. Once in this position, lift the front part of the feet off the ground, leaving only the heels and hands on the floor. This also stretches and works the arch muscles.

Another exercise for flat feet is to place the feet on the floor, holding the ankles. Make sure the heels remain touching and align the feet so they are facing opposite directions. Try to separate the toes as much as possible, while the little toes remain on the floor. This exercise can also be done, where the toes remain connected, while the heels are separated as far as possible.

Many of these exercises can be turned into games with a friend. A fun example is to play tug of war with a friend or pet using just the toes. Pass items back and forth with the toes to build foot muscle strength. Try timing how long it takes to pick up all the marbles with the feet and try to beat the best score.

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Discussion Comments

By Animandel — On Apr 10, 2014

The exercises mentioned in this article are good ones for treating flat feet. There are also many other exercises that build the inner foot muscles so with a little research I'm sure you can find one that works for you.

In addition to exercise, you might want to try a good pair of orthotic shoe inserts. Some people who use them report a world of improvement in regards to the pain they experience from flat feet.

There are also specific shoes for flat feet, and there are some styles of shoes that people with flat feet should never wear. Flip flops would be a good example of what not to wear if you experience pain from flat feet. If you notice more pain than usual when you wear a certain pair of shoes then this should be a hint for you to consider removing them from your collection.

By Drentel — On Apr 09, 2014

I have had pes planus, better known as flat fleet, my entire life. Honestly, I wasn't aware that my feet were any different from anyone else until it was pointed out to me. I have played sports most of my life, too, and the flat feet have not hindered me.

The only time when I ever even noticed any discomfort with my feet was when I would play baseball and have to stand on them without much movement for extended periods of time.

One of the reasons I may not have experienced a lot of pain in my feet is that I often used weight machines that focus on the arches of the feet. I used the machines as a way to improve my vertical leap for basketball, and I could see a big improvement in the strength of my foot muscle and my vertical leap when I used these exercise machines.

Most workout centers have the type of machines I used, so if you are searching for a good exercise for flat feet this might be a good option to look into.

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