How to Strengthen the Medial Longitudinal Arch
The bones of the foot form a complex series of arches. When people refer to the “arch” of the foot, they’re generally referring to the medial longitudinal arch -- the lengthwise arch located on the inner side of the foot. It's higher than the lateral longitudinal arch and accommodates uneven surfaces, changes in direction and shifts in body weight from one side of the foot to the other. Exercising the muscles, ligaments and tendons that support the medial longitudinal arch might help keep the arch lifted and prevent or reduce pain caused by certain foot conditions. For best results, perform all exercises barefoot.
Warm up your feet by walking in place or prancing around the room for 10 minutes. Continue your warmup by sitting in a chair and completing a series of 10 to 15 clockwise and counterclockwise foot rotations with your right foot, then draw the alphabet in the air with your right big toe. Repeat with your left foot.
Stand with your knees slightly bent and your toes directed forward. Shift your weight over your right foot and rest your left foot alongside your right ankle. Place both hands on your hips or put one hand on a nearby wall for light support. Press the big toe, pinky toe and heel of your right foot evenly into the floor while scrunching up the inner arch. Hold for 30 seconds, if possible. Rest briefly, then repeat two or three times before switching to the left foot.
Place a firm, stable chair on a hard, smooth floor surface. Sit in the chair and spread a hand towel near your feet. Press your right heel into the floor and grab the towel with the toes of your right foot. Draw the towel toward your heel, raising your arch. Hold briefly, release the towel then repeat the towel grab 10 times. Rest for 30 seconds, repeat for a total of three sets then switch to your left foot.
Sit on a chair with your feet on the floor in front of you. Lift your right forefoot off the floor. Repeatedly tap your right big toe on the floor while keeping your four smaller toes in the air. Tap 10 times, rest the foot briefly then repeat for a total of three sets. Continue with your left foot.
Loop a resistance band around a stationary object, such as the leg of a heavy couch, and tie the ends of the band together. Sit in a chair to the right of the couch leg and loop the free part of the band around the inside of your right foot. Adjust the chair so the band is taut. Keeping your heel still, invert your foot slowly, pressing the toes to the left against the band’s resistance. Hold for 10 seconds, relax the foot briefly then repeat 10 times before switching to your left foot.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and your knees straight but not locked. Place your hands on your hips. Engage your abdominal muscles and rise onto the balls of your feet. Walk around the room for 30 seconds, then lower your heels to the floor and take a 30 second break. Repeat a total of two to four times.
Stand upright or sit in a chair. Place a small sponge ball or bundled pair of socks on the floor to the right of your right foot. Grab the object with the toes of your right foot and place it on the floor to the left of your left foot. Repeat with your left foot, transferring the object back to its initial position. Repeat the exercise 10 times, alternating feet.
When working with a resistance band, wear socks to prevent chafing.
After exercising your feet, massage the underside of each foot manually or roll it over a tennis ball or frozen water bottle.
If you have a foot condition or have injured your foot in the past, get clearance from your doctor or physical therapist before exercising your feet.
Do not perform any exercises that cause or increase foot pain.
- Lasts Anatomy Regional and Applied; R.M.H. McMinn
- Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology; Karen S. Clippinger
- Podiatry Today: Tackling The 10 Myths Of Barefoot Running
- The Physician and Sportsmedicine: Hyperpronation and Foot Pain
- Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas: Six Simple Exercises For Stronger Strides
- NY Sports Med: Arch Raisers
- American Academy of Family Physicians: Treatment of Plantar Fasciitis
Judy Fisk has been writing professionally since 2011, specializing in fitness, recreation, culture and the arts. A certified fitness instructor with decades of dance training, she has taught older adults, teens and kids. She has written educational and fundraising material for several non-profit organizations and her work has appeared in numerous major online publications. Fisk holds a Bachelor of Arts in public and international affairs from Princeton University.