Category Archives: Flat Feet

Fixing Flat Feet and Injury Prevention with Foot Exercises

Fixing Flat Feet – Are Flat Feet Necessarily Bad?

It has been traditionally thought that flat feet (or planus foot) were bad, as it makes the body more prone to injury. While some types of flat foot may be bad, such as in the case of ruptured muscles or foot deformities, some studies show that the functionally of flat feet aren’t a problem.

This study provides high-level evidence that foot shape has little impact on pain, injury, and functioning among military recruits.1

The height of the arch appeared to bear no relationship to the gait. In shoe-wearers, the affection commonly called flat foot is often associated with more than ordinary eversion of the foot on standing and walking. This eversion is due not to the low arch, but to the associated weakness or stiffness of the joints of the foot and weakness of the muscles controlling them.2

Although the function of flat foot is not necessarily problematic, some studies show that it may lead to cartilage damage in older adults.

Planus foot morphology is associated with frequent knee pain and medial TF cartilage damage in older adults.

Because of such studies, focuse has shifted from arch height to foot function. In other words, the arch height may not be as important as long as you have functional and strong foot muscles.

How to Strengthen Arches

Muscles in the foot, like elsewhere in the body, can be trained and strengthened. Here are some exercises that can be done to help strengthen the arches and muscles in the foot:

Pen and Penny Exercise

Short Foot Exercise

Towel Curls

You may also want to consider purchasing toe separators, which help spread and strengthen the foot muscles. Correct Toes place your toes in their correct anatomical position, can be worn in shoes, and are designed to be worn during weight bearing activity for maximum results.

Here are some additional foot and lower leg exercises that can be performed at home:

  • Walking on heels
  • Walking on toes
  • Calf raises
  • Toe taps
  • Picking up Pencils

Additional Resources

1. Foot shape and its effect on functioning in Royal Australian Air Force recruits. Part 1: Prospective cohort study.
2. Conclusions Drawn From A Comparative Study of the Feet of Barefooted and Shoe-Wearing Peoples
3. Association of flat feet with knee pain and cartilage damage in older adults.

Plantar Fasciosis – How Shoes Are Killing Your Feet, Literally.

Foot problems – Are shoes the culprit?

Between 75-80% of the adult population suffers from some form of foot problem 1. This may seem ironic considering how high tech shoes can be with heel support, arch support, toe springs, cushion, and other motion control technology. Are these high tech shoes really doing our feet any good?

In a 1903 study entitled, Conclusions Drawn From A Comparative Study Of The Feet Of Barefooted And Shoe-wearing Peoples, Hoffman examined 186 pairs of habitually bare feet. The result? Not a single foot problem was found.

It is very significant that in the one hundred eighty six pairs of primitive feet examined, I did not find a single foot associated with the symptoms of weakness so characteristic and common in adult shoe-wearing feet, which are weakened by the restraint the shoe exerts over function.

Plantar Fasciitis… or Plantar Fasciosis?

Shoes encourage a wide range of foot problems, such as bunions, hammer toe, and even fungal infections, but how can shoes encourage plantar fasciitis? Plantar fasciitis (‘itis’ meaning inflammation, ‘osis’ meaning degeneration) is inflammation on the bottom of the foot, typically on the heel. But, is it really inflammation?

Dr. Harvey Lemont, who had performed foot surgery on patients with plantar fasciitis, collected tissue samples from 50 patients. Upon investigating the tissue, Dr. Lemont discovered no evidence of inflammation, but rather tissue degeneration. Tissue degeneration occurs when blood supply is cut off from the tissue, preventing tissue from regenerating and to eventually die.

Lemont’s findings was published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association:

The authors review histologic findings from 50 cases of heel spur surgery for chronic plantar fasciitis. Findings include myxoid degeneration with fragmentation and degeneration of the plantar fascia and bone marrow vascular ectasia. Histologic findings are presented to support the thesis that “plantar fasciitis” is a degenerative fasciosis without inflammation, not a fasciitis.

The dangers of shoes

Abductor Hallucis

Abductor Hallucis – Plantar Fasciosis

How do shoes cut off the blood supply to the tissue? That answer is not immediately obvious. Shoes, often with their small toe boxes and toe springs, force the great toe inward and upward. The great toe being in such a position, stretches an inside muscle called the abductor hallucis and restricts blood flow to the tibial artery.

What can be done?

Re-aligning the big toe outward, to its natural position, will help compress the abductor hallucis and encourage blood flow.

  • Wearing minimalist shoes that have a large to box and lack a toe spring.
  • Go barefoot more often to strengthen the foot muscles.
  • Purchase toe spreaders like Correct Toes to help realign the toes to their natural position.
  • Stretching the big toe downward.