Exercises to Improve the Arch of the Foot
Most people develop arches in their feet during childhood and adolescence. However, in some cases, the arches may not develop as much as they should, resulting in a condition known as flat feet. Arches may also fall later in life, due to stress on the feet. Although this is a common condition and usually no cause for concern, occasionally it may result in chronic pain and discomfort. Exercise your feet regularly to improve your arches and overall foot health, and consult a doctor if you experience chronic pain.
Shoes are practical and good, but if your shoes do not provide adequate arch support, they may contribute to foot problems. To improve your arches and benefit overall foot health, try to go barefoot as much as possible. Start by walking slowly with bare feet, then increase intensity. If you have access to a beach, you can give you arches a great workout by walking barefoot in the sand one or two times each week.
Yoga for the Feet
According to Aadil Palkhivala of "Yoga Journal," yoga offers many benefits for improved foot arches. He recommends sitting in virasana pose for 10 minutes each day before bed or after you wake up. To perform virasana, kneel on the floor and press the knees together. Slide the feet out until they are a bit wider than your hips, keeping the tops of your feet against the floor. Try to sit back all the way between your feet, or place a rolled towel under your buttocks if you can't make it all the way down. If you experience cramping, you can also massage your feet while in the pose.
A ballerina's feet may be the epitome of beautiful arches. Dancescape recommends a few simple exercises to improve the height of your arches, such as toe curls. Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Point your feet and toes, and hold for three to five seconds. Next, keep your foot arched, but try to flex only your toes. Hold for three to five seconds, then point the toes. Repeat this about 10 times. This exercise is particularly beneficial for the upper arches.
Achilles Tendon Exercises
According to MayoClinic.com, flat feet may be the result of a shortened Achilles tendon. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends doing calf stretches to stretch and strengthen the Achilles tendon. Lean forward against a wall, then bring your right foot forward and bend the knee, as if doing a lunge. Try to lower the back foot completely to the ground, and hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Nicole Crawford is a NASM-certified personal trainer, doula and pre/post-natal fitness specialist. She is studying to be a nutrition coach and RYT 200 yoga teacher. Nicole contributes regularly at Breaking Muscle and has also written for "Paleo Magazine," The Bump and Fit Bottomed Mamas.