Austin Rolfing: Raising Your Fallen Arch

Raising a fallen arch is not easy but it can be done.  This is assuming that we’re talking about a “fallen arch” not flat feet that you might have been born with.  There are a couple of things to think about when trying to raise your arch. The first being what exercises you can do to strengthen and hopefully “lift” your arch.  The second is opening up or lengthening tissue that might be keeping you in a fallen arch.

Two of the primary muscles that help raise support your medial (inside) arch are your Tibialis Posterior and your Abductor Hallusis.  The Tibialis posterior tendon (a leg muscle that crosses the ankle joint and inserts in the medial arch) is usually focused on during acquired flat foot deformities as a primary cause.  It however doesn’t kick in until the passive support of the arch breaks down so we will not focus on it here.

The abductor hallusis muscle starts at the inside base of your heel and inserts into the base of your big toe.  The best way to work this muscle is called the “short foot” exercise.  Here is a brief explanation on how to do it:

To perform a short foot exercise, sit in a sturdy chair, using good posture. Place both feet flat on the floor with your toes pointing straight forward.  Raise the arch of your right foot off the floor without curling your toes and lifting your heel. This is called the short foot position. Hold this isometric contraction for six seconds. Relax, and repeat with the left foot. Inch your feet forward and perform another rep with each foot. Perform 15 to 20 repetitions with each foot to strengthen and stabilize the muscles that comprise the longitudinal arch of the foot. Reposition your feet a little farther away from the chair each rep to target the muscles at slightly different angles. When this exercise is executed properly, you will feel muscle contraction in the foot and lower leg.  As quoted by, Dr. Nicholas A Campitelli – Podiatric Medicine and Surgery

Here’s a Youtube video that will give you a visual on how to do the exercise: Click Here

I’ve done this exercise myself quite a bit trying to maintain healthy arches.  It’s a bit awkward at first but you’ll get the hang of it in a few days as long as you are diligent about doing it a few times per day.  I also find it useful to do the exercise while standing since eventually you’re shooting for this muscle to support your arch while you’re standing and walking.

The second part you need to do is lengthen the tissue on the outside of your feet.  To do this you can stand on the outside of your feet and slowly bend your knees until you feel a stretch on the outside of your ankles.  You will probably also need to see someone who does structural integration Like Myself at my Rolfing practice in Austin, TX. Who can take a look at the bones of your feet to see if the bones in your feet are articulating against one another appropriately?

Here are a couple of links to other sites with exercises you can do IN ADDITION to, not instead of, the short foot exercise:

-http://www.livestrong.com/article/142341-what-exercise-can-i-do-my-fallen-arches/?utm_source=RELARTICLES_R1

-http://www.marksdailyapple.com/flat-feet-treatment/#axzz25hIOMaaQ

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