Exercises to Help Improve Weakened Arches

Published: 16th July 2009
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Collapsed arches can be present at birth or develop at a young age. They are especially common among athletes who have put a lot of stress on their foot and calf muscles, and they also tend to develop among the elderly or women who have spent too much time in high heels. A collapsed foot can have serious long-term consequences including foot pain, ankle pain, stress fractures, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, calluses, bunions and Achilles tendon injuries. Foot stress ultimately affects the rest of the body of well, and so people with collapsed arches may also suffer from shin splints, calf strain, stress fractures of the tibia and fibula, knee pain, hip pain, pelvic pain, lower back strain, and premature arthritic degeneration.

If you suffer from collapsed arches or flat feet, you can help rebuild and strengthen the muscles in your feet by doing simple exercises. One of the best things a person with collapsed arches can do is walk barefoot on the beach. Walking barefoot strengthens muscles in your feet that have become "lazy" thanks to your shoes. Believe it or not, shoes - even high quality athletic shoes - often promote unhealthy walking habits. By taking them off, we can remind ourselves of what a healthy stride feels like. Walking through sand and over pebbles will stretch your tendons, your calves, your ankles and your arches. Try walking uphill for added benefit. And don't push yourself to run. While running barefoot can ultimately provide an excellent source of exercise for your feet, it is something that should be built up to gradually. Taking a simple stroll on the beach should be enough to make your arches slightly sore the next day. This type of exercise is most effective when done regularly, maybe once or twice a week, over a long period of time.

For an arch exercise you can do in the comfort of your own home, stand with your feet apart and facing forward. Bend your knees slightly and then shift your weight to the outer borders of the foot so that the inside of your foot lifts slightly. Now rise up on your toes. The majority of your weight should be directed toward your little toe. You should feel the arch "lifting". Balance here for a moment, then lower your heels and repeat.

This exercise should be done in bare feet and on a soft surface (use a rug or a carpet). It may be helpful to do it in front of a mirror so you can check yourself visually.

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