A lot of people, exercisers and non-exercisers, have pain and fatigue in their feet. This can be caused by unsupportive shoes, strain, and several other factors. Exercises to strengthen the arches of your feet have been shown to ease foot pain and foot fatigue.
Why Are Strong Arches Important?
A study released in 2008, showed that the abductor hallucis muscle (a bottom of the arch muscle) supports the arch by contracting and controlling proper foot posture while standing. This foot posture is called “pronation”. If the posture is off, it can cause the foot to roll to the left or right. When this happens, you may develop other problems like shin splints, plantar fasciitis and even pain in the legs and joints.
How to Strengthen the Arch of Your Foot
A study in 2011 (Jung et al, 2011) compared the two most common arch strengthening exercises. You can see samples of these 2 exercises in the first 2 videos below. It was suggested that both exercises work, however, the Short Foot Exercise (Video 2) works best. Even though the 2011 study showed the Short Foot Exercises were most effective, our doctors recommend a different version of the Toe Curl Exercise (Video 1). Why? It is easier to perform. You can view Video 3 for instructions on this easy Toe Curl Exercise. However, if you are a high-intensity athlete, we do suggest that you perform the Short Foot Exercises (Video 2).
Short Foot Exercise (Video 1)
Toe Curl Exercise (Video 2)
Easier Toe Curl Exercise (Video 3)
- Do exercises while sitting
- Watch the easier toe curl exercise video
- Exercise one foot at a time
- Time how long it takes the foot to get fatigued
- Repeat on the other foot.
- Do the exercise every other day, increasing the time every time you exercise.
- Work up to 5- 10 minutes per foot.
You can purchase the Archexerciser here.
Other Ways to Strengthen the Arches of your Feet
Other studies used orthotics as a way to strengthen the arch. Although orthotics help, the study proved that a combination of orthotics and arch strengthening exercises worked best. Those that used both orthotics and exercises had stronger feet Orthotics work by aligning muscles in the correct position to help strengthen the arch while doing the exercises. When not using an orthotic while performing the exercises, the muscle lost foot support.
Two types of Orthotics
You have a choice when it comes to orthotics. You can purchase a custom orthotic or a prefabricated one. Although the study did not state which was better, we believe a custom orthotic will provide the best position of the arch to receive the best results. With a custom orthotic, designed by your podiatrist, you will receive proper foot/arch alignment. Even though we recommend the custom orthotic, a prefabricated one will be beneficial as well. Foot Healthcare Associates offers both prefabricated and custom orthotics. Our prefabricated orthotics brand is FootChair Adjustable Arch Orthotic.
References for Arch Exercise
- Headlee DL. Fatigue of the plantar intrinsic foot muscles increases navicular drop. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2008
- Jung D, et al. A comparison in the muscle activity of the abductor hallucis and the medial longitudinal arch angle during toe curl and short foot exercises. Phys Ther Sport 2011.
- Jung D, et al. Effect of foot orthoses and short-foot exercise on the cross-sectional area of the abductor hallucis muscle in subjects with pes planus: a randomized controlled trial. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2011
Foot Healthcare Associates have offices in Southfield, Novi, and Livonia but provide the best foot and ankle treatment – surgery of all types – to all patients in all areas of Michigan including Livonia, Northville, Farmington, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield, Redford, Westland, Garden City, Dearborn Heights, Canton, Plymouth, Wayne, Novi, Southfield, Walled Lake, Wixom, Commerce, Milford, Highland, White Lake, Waterford, South Lyon, Brighton, Howell, Whitmore Lake, Lyon Twp, Oak Park, Royal Oak, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Clawson, Centerline, Lathrup Village, Detroit, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Twp, Troy Pontiac, Rochester Hills and all other Metro Detroit areas.
Our doctors also service most Southfield, Livonia, and Novi area hospitals!
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