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Foam Rolling for Flat Feet?


#1

TL;DR? Foot notes: I have flat feet, very very flat feet. Extreme pain working standing up all day, orthopedics not helping, people with very flat feet commonly have severe pain when standing for long periods,a corrective surgery is 5k+ 20 week of recov between both feet.

An alternative is exercises for feet, going barefoot, not using foot othotics (weaken feet). Should I foam roll feet and calves and consider getting vibram five finger shoes (they actually have size 15s! lol) because apparently its the next best thing to being barefoot.

original thread

So my mother (a nurse) has always told me I have flat feet, very very flat feet lol. I never really understood why that is a bad thing until now. Some of you probably remember a previous post about foot pain working as a dishwasher for 9 hour shifts with little movement etc, a big cause of foot pain..well flat feet make it a lot worse than if I had normal arches.

My feet ache very badly.. pain in my ankles and whole foot plus tightness and discomfort in my legs,specifically my calves due to a change in my gait due to having no arches which makes my calves very tight.

Ive been reading about fallen arches and orthotics etc. Ive gotten shoe inserts and they give my feet relief for about an hour or two then nothing. Ive read the best way to improve my feet without a surgery running about 5k and 10 weeks of recovery (one foot at a time) is walking barefoot as much as possible, never wearing shoe inserts and stretching exercises like spreading your toes and holding it 10 times for ten second periods etc.

So my questions are as follows,should I start foam rolling my calves and feet? I figure atleast it will losen my calves. What can't foam rolling solve? lol. If anyone is a foot doctor out there (I know someone has to be!) any ideas? last question.. Do you think I should get those vibram five finger shoes..thy're suppose to be the next best thing to being barefoot anyway.


#2

I'm just jumping in because I am interested in this. Hopefully someone will stop by soon!


#3

I have very flat feet too; picture a wet foot print that goes out on the inside and outside of the foot. The pain depends on my recent activity level. I have played sports just about year round the past 24 years. I had prescription orthodics in HS that seemed to help. Then I went a very long time with out any insoles. Recently I bought some Shool's from Walmart. They helped as I was having some plantar fasicitis from more running.

If I have pain builing up I will strech with a towel around my toes and pull towards body. I also like to stand with one foot on a golf ball or something similar. The helps to relieve some pain.

I still notice that my calves and akles get sore but the insole seem to help.

Waiting tables used to be painful through the legs and back. I figure in the back of the kitchen it is the same.


#4

I can understand your pain. I also have very flat feet. When I was younger my tendons in my feet were

collapsing due to my flat feet. (VERY PAINFUL) Back then there was nothing they could do except gives me

these horrible looking old man brick shoes with custom arches. I do foam roll my calves due to the tightness

of my feet and to tell you the truth it helps. Although I do feel that they are still pretty tight it

relieves some tension there for the short term. I recently got customer inserts for my shoes that I had made

at a place called â??Good Feetâ?? I can transfer them to any pair shoes I have. I have to admit it has increased

my endurance and made going to out much better. I would get very antsy going out because of the pain in my

feet when I would stand in one place to long... It appears you have the same problem, it only helps

temporarily. I have not tried foam rolling my feetâ?¦. Sounds like a good idea though ill have to follow up

with you on that. Sorry I donâ??t have a solid answer for you but definitely start foam rolling your calves. I

would be curious to see others feedback since this is not an often talked about subject

I also have a question for you. Do you notice your flexibility with regards to your hip flexors and legs in

general are tighter due to the flat feet? This might just be a problem of mine.


#5

Foamrolling is so cheap and easy that you might as well try it.

I have flat feet, but apparently not as bad as yours. I used to wear running shoes with arch support and green superfeet insoles, which worked for me (vs other regular shoes). Now I wear Nike Frees which work equally well for me. If you try them, it's generally recommended to break into them slowly rather than wearing them all day from the start.


#6

Also, if your toes tend to point out a lot (e.g. walk like a duck), that contributes to flattening of your arches. You may have some tight hip muscles which could use some stretching/foamrolling.


#7

I do feel like the flexibility in my legs suck in general compared to the rest of my body. I'm specifically wondering If I can improve the arches in my feet by strengthening the muscles. Walking barefoot is suppose to help..wearing five finger vibrams is suppose to be just as good and they take a while to get used to because it uses so many different muscles that regular shoes let degrade. I know for a fact that the muscles in my feet suck before my feet even started bothering me.

I feel like the flexibility issues could be part of the change in ur gait while walking/ running do you flat feet. Over pronating I believe its called.


#8

If I were you, I would check with your Dr. before going all out barefoot. Or at least check

with a physical therapist. Most people with sever flat feet need arch support to reduce

further damage to the tendons in your feet. You could make the situation worst. Check with

your Dr.


#9

If I were you, I would check with your Dr. before going all out barefoot. Or at least check

with a physical therapist. Most people with sever flat feet need arch support to reduce

further damage to the tendons in your feet. You could make the situation worst. Check with

your Dr.


#10

Without looking at your gait and feet, I can only make assumptions, but the following methods have helped with various athletes I have worked with that have flat feet or plantar fasciitis.

Foam rolling/SMR will help if the problem is muscle restrictions and tightness, which in your case sounds like it is. More than likely, you have overactive plantarflexors (point your foot/toes down) and evertors (bring your foot/toes out to the outside part of your body). You also probably have inactive/weak dorsiflexors (point your foot/toes up) and invertors (bring your foot/toes inwards towards the inside part of your body). Have this situation with your muscles will cause pronation of your foot, which essentially means a flat foot. So my best suggestions to help with this issue is to do SMR of your plantarflexors (gastroc, soleus) and evertors (peroneals) with either a foam roller, tennis ball, LAX ball, The Stick, whatever device you decide to use and stretch those muscles as well. In addition to that, strengthen your dorsiflexors and invertors (Tibialis Anterior, extensors). It may also help to perform mobility drills that encourage dorsiflexion of the ankle before activity or even at the start of each day.

Another issue that normally will cause pain along the foot is due to fascial restrictions along the foot and calf. In the foot, it is called the plantar fascia. You can work on this with a golf ball, tennis ball, or LAX ball by just rolling it on the bottom of your foot. If you want to add in a cold element to it as well to help with pain, you can fill up a 16-20 oz water/soda bottle with water and freeze it and use that to roll on the bottom of your foot.

Vibrams are good and will help strengthen your feet and calfs, but make sure to ease into them if you do decide to wear them. An abrupt change can cause a great deal of discomfort in your feet/legs and can cause injury. If you decide against vibrams, I would recommend avoiding any and all shoes with a big heel or excess cushioning in the heel (Shox, etc). Go for a more flat footed shoe (Chucks, Frees, etc).

Now this is just an overview of what could possibly be wrong with your feet and should be a good starting point. Mobility issues at the hips can effect the ankles as well as stability issues at the knee. The body is one giant kinetic chain, so you can't isolate out just one part and expect the root problem to be fixed. But start with the SMR of the calf and peroneals with good stretching and mobility work, strengthen your dorsiflexors and inverters, work the plantar fascia on your foot, and try out some new shoes.

I hope this wasn't too technical in jargon, but you can always google the words you don't understand. Best of luck and let us know how things progress!


#11

Thanks alot, I understood most of what but I'll google what I dont know =P. the muscles involved in my ability to pull my foot upwards toward me are weak, my feet do tend to go out to the side and it feels uncomfortable walking otherwise. I can point my toes up but those muscles are also weak..so you pretty much hit everything lol. I'm pretty sure I will go with Vibrams because theyre pretty popular even if they look silly so people will be more interested then prone to fall down laughing lol. When I was reading a blog about these shoes he addressed the shoes looking funny and made a comparison to grunting during a squat/dl/weighted pull up circuit.it sounds or looks funny but its awesome.win.


#12

Petermus,
Sounds good and best of luck. I will repeat this again though - Make sure to ease into the Vibrams. I cannot stress that enough. I personally own a pair of Chucks, Frees, and Vibrams and will wear the Chucks/Frees for daily purposes and will use the vibrams for specific training purposes and the frees for other training purposes. I had to ease into the vibrams over a 2 week period and I didn't have any underlying foot issues.

Again best of luck and keep us updated on your progress.


#13

Thanks for your advice. I really enjoy walking barefoot, ive even walked a few trails barefoot but its a pain because of the risk of glass etc. So ill be wearing them as much as possible but will definitely ease into them. They should be getting here today =)


#14

http://www.triggerpointbook.com/

I highly recommend foam rolling and you might find this attached link useful as well. I used to have various areas in my upper RT trap region, knee pain, and the occassionally medial foot pain and corrected all of it through trigger point thereapy and foam rolling. It seems tedious, but it really gets the job done. A little bit of focused pain and the tension goes away. You have to religiously perform these exercises but they work like no other.

I would be willing to wager that you have a lot of trigger points along your calf. See if you can palpate your calves and find small nodes of tension, or areas that seem to be sore localized in a certain spot along the belly of the muscle. That's a trigger point. If you massage it out with a golf ball, tennis ball, your thumb or hard, blunt object it will release tension on your feet. Polish it off with overall foam rolling to get an extra stretch of the tissues and you will discover a huge difference in pain level.

v/r

Gremlin


#15

Dumbed down version of LevelHeaded -- my trainer keeps two different sized hard rubber balls in his bag for warm ups. For his clients with foot pain, he has them take their shoes off, step on a ball and roll, roll, roll. He also keeps a baseball, or larger ball, that you use to roll your calfs, on the backs and sides. It hurts so good and makes a huge difference.


#16

First of all get a professional diagnosis before you spend more time, money and effort.
Try to find another job - I did and it makes a big difference.
I am dealing with plantar fasciitis for more than a year now and I understood that treatment efficiency is very individual. If something works for one it may not work for the other. There are many treatment techniques that you can try. Did you try Taping? I have found it very useful. Read the article in the following link - (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/96375/duct_tape_cured_my_plantar_fasciitis.html?cat=50) There are a few Taping techniques you can find in YouTube - just type "Plantar Fasciitis Taping" in YouTube search. Personally I found a very informative website in:
http://www.plantar-fasciitis-elrofeet.com
Take care & Good luck


#17

I fully support taping as a temporary, short-term solution. But ultimately, you are doing just that - making a temporary, short-term solution. The analogy I always use is: If you had a leak in your roof, would you put a pot under it to catch the water and continually empty the pot, or would you fix the roof? The tape may help with reducing pain and the OP may need that added support from the tape or orthodics to help get past the initial stages of returning to normal function, but you have to fix the root problem. There are some cases where there is an acute flare up of plantar fasciitis and taping will help resolve that issue, but in the OP's case, it is an ongoing issue with admitted flat feet.

IMO, you can work on a lot of things to help improve flat feet/plantar fasciitis for the long run. I agree that each person is different and what works for one person won't always work for another, but generally speaking, majority of people with plantar fasciitis have one or a combination of the following conditions: tight and restricted fascia of the feet and calfs, poor dorsiflexor and inverter strength, poor dorsiflexion and ankle mobility, and tight/overactive evertor musculature.

Some structural issues will make completely "fixing" flat feet impossible, but you can still strengthen the proper areas, increase mobility in the appropriate ROM, and decrease the tension on the plantar fascia and in turn decrease pain.