View Full Version : improving flat feet

09-07-2006, 02:57 PM
About a week ago I was running up some hilly terrain when I stepped on an uneven patch of ground and sprained my ankle. I had it checked out and the doctor said I have flat feet (inherited from Dad).

As mobility is critical to survival, are there any exercises I can do to rehabilitate my ankle and improve the arch of my feet?

09-07-2006, 05:33 PM
Flat Feet

Flat feet is a condition in which the foot doesn't have a normal arch. It may affect one foot or both feet. Most people have a gap between in the inner side of the foot and the ground when they are standing. This is referred to as an "arch". Feet that have a low arch or no arch at all are referred to as flat feet or fallen arches. On standing the patient will have a flat arch and the foot may roll over to the inner aspect.
The symptoms vary depending on the severity of the condition. Individuals may experience corns and hard skin under the sole of the foot. The arch area may be tender and shoes will tend to wear out quickly. In severe cases the patient may experience calf, knee, hip and back pain. Click here to view a graphical representation of flat feet (javascript:popUp('http://www.drfoot.co.uk/flatpic.htm'))


It may be hereditary, i.e passed on through generations.
In most cases it is caused through a biomechanical complaint (abnormal walking) such as Fore Foot Varus. This is a condition in which the subtaler joint in the foot over pronates (rolls in too much).
A ruptured tendon (tibilias posterior) can lead to a flat foot.
Cerebral palsy, spins bifida and muscular dystrophy can also lead to a flat foot condition.

Click on the below image to cure this condition.
Wear wide fitting shoes.
Do not try to treat the secondary lesions (i.e corns) yourself.
Purchase high quality insoles/ orthotics to take pressure and pain away from the arch.TRADITIONAL TREAMEMT
Flat feet insoles have been used for years to help people with flat feet. Traditionally when we think of insoles or orthotics we think of a hard plastic insert that is placed in the shoe. It cups the heel and supports the arch but because it is not flexible it does not extend the full length of the foot. This tends to make this type of orthotic uncomfortable, and ineffective for many people.
It also repositions the arch using "brute force." Because it is not flexible it forces the arch into it's correct position but does nothing to relieve the pressure that is forcing the arch to collapse, causing flat feet, in the first place. This type of hard plastic orthotic can actually cause increased pain in flat feet patients, which is the reason why we have recommended the Dr Foot Insoles for the treatment of flat feet. They provide a flexible yet incredibly supportive and stable treatment for flat feet.

I just did a quick search on the internet.
There is a host of info out there.
The above is just an example.
I remember some recruits getting it, but it was resolved, so it isn't something you will have forever. Try to treat it ASAP.

09-07-2006, 05:48 PM
I've suffered from hereditary flat feet my whole life. The only "cure" is (1) good-quality boots/shoes, and (2) prescription orthotics. Your boots/shoes need to be made with a "straight" or "flat arch" last. You will pay up to 50% more for every pair of boots/shoes you buy, but won't complain because your feet, legs, knees, hips, and lower back will feel so good.

Wait to buy new boots or shoes until you have been seen by a podiatrist and successfully fitted for orthotics. They will dramatically change your shoe size. (I went from a 9 1/2 to an 11 because of the space they take up in your shoes.) Follow the doc's advice. Achilles tendon stretches also help.

Low Drag
09-07-2006, 06:39 PM
I have a set of "Good Feet" inserts. You get 2 pairs, one is an "exercisers" and the other is for athletics etc. The exercisers gets worn in my slippers at home, not flexible at all and REALLY pushes your arch back into shape. The other is for running etc.

About 2 months after I got them I was out running and realized something felt different. It took me about a 100 yards to figure it out. For the first time in 20 years my knees did not hurt. Nuf said.

My feet no longer hurt when I get out of bed or stand all day. They cost almost $500 but so does a custom set of inserts. Only these guys will "re-evaluate" your feet, if your feet change they'll give you new inserts.

09-07-2006, 06:58 PM
I tried the "Good Feet" insoles, but they really didn't work for me. I have quit wearing them. The good thing was, mine were free. Actually, mine and my wife's. We had to wait so long that they gave us two pairs each. I was very impressed with that and they were great to work with.

09-08-2006, 07:57 PM
I also have inserts from 'The Goodfeet Store'. They are fantastic for me. My feet had gotten to the point where they hurt all the time - now not at all.

For me it seems the arch across the front is where I have most problem, and unfortunately I have yet to find any footwear of any kind that has adequate support in that area. So, I just have one set on inserts and I switch them between shoes/boots/sneakers etc.

Low Drag
09-09-2006, 07:46 AM
There is another option, one that I used by accident while in the Corps. Spenco sells these green full length inserts that I put in all my combat boots. They made them feel like running shoes and they held my arches up. Once I started using them my feet did not hurt as bad after a long hump (road march).

When I got out of the Corps I did not wear them any more and that's when my foot problems really started.

09-09-2006, 09:18 AM
You can "get by" with Spenco and other generic, off-the-shelf arch supports if you are under 30. After that, age and deterioration from using non-prescription orthotics will start to kick in. You'll feel down in the back; your calves and thighs will hurt and you won't know why; your feet and ankles will hurt constantly. I know, because that is what happened to me.

Go see a podiatrist and pay $300-$500 for prescription orthotics. They are emphatically *not* arch supports, but are designed to put all the bones in your feet, legs, and hips into neutral alignment. Flat feet throw everything off and result in aches and pains all over, not just your feet.

Vinnie Moscaritolo
09-10-2006, 09:01 AM
personally I prefer the heavy duty blue Spenco insoles made for hiking. I have some density in my legs and can tear up boots pretty quick even with day to day use.

I had a pair of Superfoot insoles made for me, but they were not the least bit comfortable and the spenco actually matched me better, but thats me.

One other note, short of doing lots of ballet type excercises to build up the muscles (are there any) in you feet, I find that doing abduction, and aduction exercises with legs helps to stabilize your arches.

I have found that external hip rotation seems to get me arched a bit more. either way, the muscles are important for hip and back stabilization.

easy to do train them, you can get a heavy duty beach ball (at least 2 ft diameter) and squeeze it with knees while lying on your back and you can wrap your knees with a luggage belt and open knees outward..

weight machines for leg ab/aduction work better. but I find that if you have been doing squats, you tend to max out the machines in most gyms.

09-11-2006, 04:53 PM
Hatchi, i'm 18 years old- Spenco should be good enough right?

Vinnie, it occured to me that my sprained right ankle might have resulted from a previous injury playing football; someone kicked me about 3-4 inches about the right Achilles tendon and there is now a lump of hardened flesh there. which may have caused me to walk differently causing the ankle sprain. is there any way to rehabilitate the lower calf injury or is it not a problem?

i will get all this fixed up pronto, before they result in further injuries.

Vinnie Moscaritolo
09-11-2006, 07:59 PM
sounds like you need to see a real physical therapist ..
to bad you weren't in So Oregon, I could point you to the right guy.

09-18-2006, 09:58 AM
Hatchi, i'm 18 years old- Spenco should be good enough right?
No, absolutely not. That's like saying since you are 18 you can eat all the junk food you want because heart disease won't kick in until after 40.

You are better able to tolerate the discomfort of flat feet and inadequate arch supports at age 18, but the skeletal misalignment is causing permanent damage NOW. Both my knees are blown because of chrondomalacia patella (cartilage deterioration). The damage was caused by playing basketball for years in junior high, high school, and college with cheap arch supports and cheap basketball shoes. I never played football and never took a hit on my knees. The lack of proper orthotics allowed my flat feet to put significant lateral stress on my knees, which wore out the cartilage. I did not realize I had a problem until my knees went out while climbing stairs at age 36.

Do something about your feet now, before you do any permanent damage. I guarantee that if I developed a "lump of hardened flesh" above my achilles tendon, I would have an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon the next day! Quit screwing around and get treatment.

Guys think they are indestructible at 18. Wait until you are 50 and see how fragile your body really is.

Joseph Timbs
09-25-2006, 10:27 PM
You definitely need good insoles , I can tell this from experience. Between rucking and running , it got to the point that I could not sit comfortably while driving my car or eating dinner. The pain started in my left leg but quickly spread to the other leg too , then my knees , hips, and eventually my lower back began to give my absolute fits . I was 28 , but walked like a crippled old man.

I'm still having trouble , and my legs and knee hurt , but I am better , and will be picking up a new ortho set come Wednesday.

If you plan on doing any cool / Hooah stuff , you had better take care of this now ! ;)

Cold War Scout
09-26-2006, 04:40 AM
I have always had flat feet. One of the things I have done all my life (in response to issues like this) is to try and strengthen the muscles around the area in question. Exercises that I like to do which I feel do so for my feet are:

Calf raises (both heel and toe)
"Toe scrunches" (when releasing look down at your toes and try to spread them like your fingers)
Side to side ankle rocks

I have on several occasions while orienteering wound up in positions where I have almost twisted my ankle, but I sincerely believe that it is because of these little exercises that I do that gave my ankles the strength to not bend in/out completely and thus I avoided injury.

While I have never bought one or actually seen one, JumpUSA makes an interesting toe strengthening contraption:


09-28-2006, 01:35 AM
I've noted that when I curl in my toes strenuously, it seems to dislocate a bone in my foot, causing intense pain until the bone slides back into place. It's a medial bone located in the medial inferior part of my instep. Is this supposed to happen, and would it be damaging anything in my foot?

Or is it a sign that certain muscles are in sore need of conditioning? This first happened to me while doing gymnastics at age 7 and ever since I've been able to dislocate that bone in my feet just by curling my big toe in hard.