The arches of your foot are helpful in acting as shock absorbers. Because the entire foot does not hit the ground, you experience less strain on the joints and less pull on the ankles. As you age, the arch in your foot can drop or collapse, making your feet more flat. This can cause pain and discomfort when walking or exercising. In addition to wearing more supportive shoes, you also can perform exercises that strengthen the muscles that pull on the arches, known as the tibialis posterior.
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Toe Raise with Eversion
The toe raise with eversion exercise helps to stretch and strengthen the tibialis posterior muscles and can be performed throughout the day. Start by standing with your feet hip width apart. Focus your weight on the outside edges of your feet, feeling your arches lift slightly. Slowly rise on the balls of your feet, trying to concentrate most of your weight on your outer toes and feel the arch lifting. Pull your knees in slightly with your weight still focused on your outer toes. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then lower the feet to the ground.
If you have access to a sandy beach, walking on the beach one to two times per week can help to stretch and strengthen collapsed arches. You do not have to walk quickly for the exercise to be effective. Instead, focus on spreading your toes as you walk and feeling a stretch in the back of your foot. Keep your feet in line with your knees, taking steady careful steps.
The towel scrunch exercise helps to stretch and strengthen your arches. To perform, stand with one foot in the center of a hand towel. Scrunch your toes in and straighten them out to bunch the towel as much as possible. When you have scrunched the towel, use your feet to stretch the towel back out. Repeat on the opposite foot.
The stork stretch involves standing with one foot on the floor and lifting the other foot up to increase pressure on your foot on the floor. Start by standing on one foot near a wall or other supportive furniture. Imagine someone is lifting your foot at your arches as you lift the foot to put the tops of your toes on the floor and increase the pressure on your heels. Hold this position for 10 seconds as you feel the muscles in your foot strengthening. Release the stretch and repeat on the opposite foot.