T Nation

Low Arches and the Problems They Cause


#1

I have very low arches, almost flat feet. This often leads to shin splints, very poor glute activation, and terrible calf activation. Are there any exercises I can do to fix this? I would like normal feet and the benefits that go along with them. Thanks.


#2

Z-Health has a great foot mobility series that should be able to help a lot. Poster -mc- is a zhealth practitioner and has posted links to the series on previous posts, so hopefully she will cross this post and re-post it.

Another thing you can look at are you plantar fascia and peroneal musculature tightness. If the plantar fascia are tight it can contribute to flat footedness. Also, if your peroneal musculature is tight, it will pull your foot into eversion and pronation, causing you to be flat footed. To counteract those two situations, you can do some self-myofascial release of your plantar fascia and peroneals and stretch them out well along with your calf.

Also, take a look at your posterior tibialis and other inverter muscles and make sure they are adequate strength and length. If those muscles are too long and/or weak, it will also contribute to a flat foot position.

You can also look at hip mobility and other areas that can contribute to a flat footed position, but that would be way too much to type. For that you should see somebody who can to a function and static screening of your posture and movement.

Some flat foot situations are purely structural and you may need orthodics to correct it. But most of the people I have encountered have been able to find success with proper soft tissue and muscle activation work.


#3

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#4

I've stashed this post away for future reference. I never really worried about being flat footed, but I'm sure working on it can't hurt...


#5

Thanks for the kind comments BBB and duffy. They are much appreciated. As always BBB, your added information and knowledge is great and always encouraged and welcomed.


#6

I wish I knew where most of things you all are talking about are located. So far I've found the heel, toes, and middle part. Gonna google a diagram of foot muscles.


#7

I have awful toe off (big toe I notice it, I roll instead toward my other toes) on one side. Any ideas?


#8

...Sorry, hit the "post" button prematurely. I meant to add a thanks to BBB and LH. Any clue how to improve my toe off? My feeble brain has relied on attempts at calf raises focused on good extension and sets w/ toes pointing different angles, but there has to be more?

Foam roll x2 - I have been rolling a golf ball for a few weeks and that has done wonders on my plantar fascia. I find my feet "ride" differently (foot strike, weight transfer, etc) when these are happy!

On a related note, a good read - "Born to Run." Through the book, there was substantial discussion of barefoot running (I know, Nike "looooved" this) and it's ability to strengthen the muslces of the foot and improve gait, etc. I have tried a bit of it in the last few weeks, and it seems to help (although I always seem to overdo the duration of the training on unprepared feet rather than easing in to it, and the balls of my feet are super sore afterward: reads - poor training intelligence yields poor results).


#9

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#10

thanks BBB, appreciate the tip!


#11

I started doing all my sled pulling barefoot for a while. While I feel this helped everything else in my legs and hips, I'm still very flat footed, too.


#12

Something else that may help in addition to what I and others wrote above would be a doming exercise for your feet, essentially retraining the mechanics and intrinsic muscles of your foot to create support for the medial longitudinal arch.

Here is a link to a great article written by Patrick Ward explaining a doming exercise/drill and how to progress it:
http://optimumsportsperformance.com/blog/?p=1535&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+optimumsportsperformance%2FQzvR+%28Optimum+Sports+Performance+Blog%29&utm_content=Yahoo!+Mail


#13

BBB,

Been doing the light weight tip toe calf raises quite a bit. One thing I noticed - I got back from a 4 mile run yesterday, and have built up a callous and quite a bit of soreness on the ball of my left foot (the side at issue) roughly an inch or less back from my 3rd & 4th smallest toes (lol, you like the anatomical vocabulary here :wink:. I assume this has to do w/ some overpronation, but probably also some form of medial rotation somewhere?

All I notice is that my hip doesn't have any explosiveness on the left side. IE - playing basketball, when I go in for a left handed layup to jump off my right foot, WHEN I PLANT THE LEFT FOOT prior to shifting to the right foot for takeoff, I feel like I can't "bend" much to load up for an explosive transfer. Wow, that probably made no sense. Anyways, this problem has been bothering me for about a year and a half now. I'm not sure if its left hip, low back somewhere (QL?), TFL/ITB, glute med?

Nutshell - If I get out the jump rope, I can't spring much at all when I'm doing a left foot single leg hop. If I were doing a seated calf raise, I have spring and bounce there w/ the calf, so I'm putting the issue above the knee.

I also notice single leg knee extensions are painful w/ the left only.

I think I mentioned this in another thread and never heard from anyone, but I failed the rat s* out of the Ober Test on the left side a few months back while going to PT. I have foam rolled ITB, glute, and done doble knees to chest to stretch low back, to no avail, also marriage proposal stretch for tight flexors. I notice my hip snaps when I extend and externally rotate... that doesn't hurt, but is a potential symptom?


#14

Barefoot training might be nice to train the intrinsics and get an arch... but I would only recommend it for squats and deads initially. If you already have foot problems, too much too soon might cause some major problems. I wouldn't do it with any exercise that requires you to run or sprint. Exercises with your feet planted shouldn't be a problem because there are no excessive ground contact forces.