Exercises to Correct Flat Feet in Adults


Pes planus, commonly known as flat feet, is a common condition that affects one in four individuals in the United States. Flat feet are characterized by the absence of an arch in the feet, causing the soles of the feet to remain in contact with the ground. Children typically have a flat feet until the tendons, ligaments and bones in the feet mature. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon, posterior tibial tendon or calf muscles can cause flat feet in adults. When the tendons and ligaments in the calf, foot and ankle become damaged or torn, the arch in the foot progressively deteriorates. Perform exercises that target and stretch these tendons and muscles to support the arch in your feet and correct pes planus.

Posterior Tibial Realignment When Walking

The posterior tibial tendon extends from the calf muscles to the inside of the ankles and feet, and is responsible for supporting the arch in the feet. As a result of the aging process, this tendon becomes weak, stretched and torn, resulting in inflammation and swelling on the inside of the ankle. As this tendon becomes inflamed and overstretched, the ligaments surrounding the arch of the foot also stretch and tear, causing the foot to turn inward at the ankle and the arch of the feet to collapse. Performing exercises that strengthen the posterior tibial tendon as well as the surrounding muscles and ligaments can help support the arch and promote flexibility in the feet. Enter the starting position by standing and placing both hands on your buttocks. Bring your abdomen inward, contract your gluteal muscles, slightly bend your hips and knees and take a step forward, ensuring that the balls of your feet remain in contact with the floor with each forward movement. With each step, place the balls of your feet on the ground and place an equal amount of body weight on the balls of your big and little toe. Take 10 more steps, ensuring that you contract your gluteal muscles with each step.

Heel Raise

A rehabilitation exercise for posterior tibial tendonitis is a heel raise. This exercise targets the tendons, ligaments and muscles in the sole of the feet and the inside of the ankles to correct the inward rotation, or pronation, of the ankles. It also stretches the Achilles tendon, which is located about the heel bone. Stand behind a chair and place your hands on the back of the chair for support. Lift your body on your toes, and hold for five seconds. Remove your hands from the chair, and slowly lower yourself. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions to strengthen the posterior tibial tendon and correct flat feet.

Towel Stretch

The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, and tightness in this tendon is a common cause of flat feet in adults. The Achilles tendon is required for foot mobility and may become strained or inflamed as a result of overuse or injury. When this tendon becomes inflamed or tight, the heel is forced off the floor and the foot begins to point down. The foot tries to compensate for the flexion or pronation by flattening, or causing a collapse in the arch of the feet. Perform a towel stretch to stretch the Achilles tendons, reduce the inflammation and pain, reduce the pronation in your feet and correct flat feet. Begin by sitting on the floor and looping a towel around the balls of your feet. Ensuring that your torso and knees remain straight, pull the towel toward your body until you feel a slight stretch in the Achilles tendon and your calf muscles. Hold this position for 30 seconds and relax. Perform one set of 10 repetitions, once daily.

Calf Stretch

When the calf muscles are tight or strained, an excess amount of stress is placed on the Achilles tendon, contributing to flat feet. Begin this exercise by standing in front of a wall. Bring both arms up to shoulder level and place them on the wall. Bring one leg in front of your body and bend the knee. The lagging leg should remain straight and the heel planted on the floor. Perform a calf stretch by leaning into the wall, keeping your hind leg straight and heel planted on the floor. Continue to forward lean until you feel a stretch in your calf muscles. Hold this position for 10 seconds and relax. Perform one set of 10 repetitions on each foot.