Fun fact: We’re all born with flat feet, but our arches eventually develop throughout childhood. Next time to you see an infant or a toddler, look at the bottoms of their feet—you’ll see that, for the most part, they’re straight.
However, some people never develop arches, or over time, can experience what experts call “fallen arches,” when normal wear and tear or an injury straightens the arch again. Experts have also identified obesity as a risk factor, as the arches can fall simply due to the extra weight on the feet. 1
Flat feet are quite common and usually do not warrant medical attention, but it can be uncomfortable, especially if you’re active. Because the arches are meant to be a supportive characteristic, a lack of them can alter the way your legs are aligned, stressing the ankles and knees. You can also experience pain in the foot itself with flat feet. 2
If you’re experiencing enough pain and discomfort, visit your medical professional. If not, there are simple exercises you can perform at home to help build and strengthen your arches. Try the three below to help strengthen your arches.
Choose an object with a spherical surface that can easily fit underneath your feet, such as a tennis ball, an empty soup can or supplement bottle.
Sitting down on a chair, lift one leg and place your foot on the thigh of your non-lifted leg. You should be able to see the underside of your lifted foot.
Using your hands, roll the object up and down the arch with gentle pressure. Use your best judgment to decide how much pressure you want to apply. Don’t overdo it if you feel unbearable pain!
Do this for two minutes before switching to the other foot.
Alternatively, you can place the rolling object on the floor and place your foot on top of it. Roll up and down.
Exercise inspired by The Nest 3
Sit down on the floor or the bed with your knees bent (like you’re ready to do a cannonball into the pool).
Make sure your feet are flat against the surface of the ground.
Using both hands, grab the tips of your toes and slowly pull them toward you. Make sure your heels stay on the floor as your feet lift. Hold for ten seconds.
Take a brief break and repeat ten times.
Exercise by Jillian Michaels 4
Lay a towel, opened, flat on the floor.
Stand up and lift one leg over the towel, with the other leg off the towel.
With the foot that’s over the towel, try to grab the towel so it scrunches up.
Then, use the same foot to flatten the towel again.
Repeat five times for each foot.
Exercise by Jillian Michaels 5
Remember your feet are one of the (if not the most) hardest-working parts of your body, as they endure a lot of pressure and weight as you walk, jump and run around all day, every day. Yet, they’re often the most neglected. If you have flat feet, paying extra attention to your feet can make a noticeable difference. By performing these easy exercises as you watch TV or take a breather from your errands, you can help ease any discomfort that may occur if you find yourself without your arches.
1 Flatfeet Lifestyle and home remedies – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. 2017. Accessed January 17, 2017.
2 Flatfeet Lifestyle and home remedies – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. 2017. Accessed January 17, 2017
3 Vulcan N. How to Build Arches in Your Feet With a Tennis Ball. Womanthenestcom. 2016. Accessed January 17, 2017.
4 Zehr M. The Best Exercises for Flat Feet. Getfitjillianmichaelscom. 2016.Accessed January 17, 2017.
5 Zehr M. The Best Exercises for Flat Feet. Getfitjillianmichaelscom. 2016. Accessed January 17, 2017.