I have two clients with falling arches in the feet. Are there exercises for strengthening and stretching the feet to help with this problem?
Fallen arches are very common and are often related to other distortion patterns throughout the entire kinetic chain. This is possible because every segment in the body must be operating optimally for peak performance. If one segment is not functioning properly, then other body segments must compensate for the dysfunctional part. This process whereby synergistic muscles compensate for weak or inhibited muscles is called synergistic dominance. With flattened arches out this affects how the knee, hip, and back reduce forces during functional movement patterns, such as walking. When multiple joint segments are affected by faulty muscular control in another segment the risk of injury significantly increases and performance decreases.
To exercise the foot to improve the muscle tone in the arches – utilize your clients’ bodyweight in different balanced-challenged positions. The entire body must reduce force, stabilize, and produce force in multiple planes of motion (forward / sideways / rotation). So by having the client perform exercises while standing on one leg they will improve the integrity of the foot and ankle complex. It is very important to note that total kinetic chain control must be maintained while performing these exercises. This proper alignment includes keeping the arch up, knee aligned over the 2nd toe, and hips level.
Flexibility training and self myofascial release will also be helpful. Consult the exercise library for examples of stretching and SMFR that your clients can utilize to improve their function. We also suggest you review the article on Self Myofascial Release in the Post Rehab article category.
Alan Russell, ATC, PES, CSCS