Posted on April 28, 2016
Do your feet look like this? Or worse? Or maybe not quite as bad, but they kind of seem flat? Do you wear orthotics to help “support your arches”? If so, I’d love to teach you how to better control your arches with your very own homemade orthotics, your foot and hip muscles! ***TIMEOUT*** If you’re halfway to your trash can with your orthotics, slow your roll a bit. It will take time to improve your arch control, so keep those in there, finish the blog, apply the exercises, get in and see your PT and then maybe we can talk about getting rid of those bad boys. That said, sometimes strengthening isn’t enough and I do prescribe orthotics to patients, but I always prescribe your homemade orthotics first, if we can!
Why do some people have flat feet? Most of us are born with a genetic predisposition to flatter or higher arches. We all start out with flat feet and as we learn to walk as a baby, our arches then begin to develop, some more than others. Even if we do develop a normal or high arch, we can lose it into a flat foot later in our lives. Most of us were put in stiff shoes early in our life and didn’t have to use our foot musculature as much and thus didn’t develop much of an arch. We didn’t have a need to because our sweet light up superman shoes were doing it for us! Over time if we don’t have proper foot and hip strength or lack ankle mobility our arches can gradually flatten out. This can lead to our feet collapsing inward and causing our knees to follow. This can result in pain anywhere from the foot and ankle all the way up to the knee, hip, and low back.
Is pronation a bad thing? Saying that pronation (arch flattening) is a bad thing is a HUGE myth. Pronation is GOOD. We like pronation, it helps absorb the shock of your body hitting the ground. The problem arises when we can’t control our pronation, and the rest of the body follows. From there we’re in a poor position to pushoff and move again and that can lead to pain.
You can get a head start on controlling your arches/pronation better here
You Tube search “corvallis and albany sport and spine arch raises”
You can progress this by going more after your posterior tibials muscle which helps control and slow down pronation. You can start in sitting and then apply it functionally in standing with the 2nd video.
From there, you want to apply the foot control into lots of balance activities. Take a look at our single leg foot reaches to put your foot control into even more practice.
Finally, build your strength even more with this heel raise progression.
So get going on those arches! Remember, this can be a process and take a long time to build up, but just work at getting a little better at it everyday! Have fun working on perfecting those homemade orthotics!
Dr. Dane Happeny, PT, DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy