For adults, when feet turn inward, it is usually to compensate for another problem that involves connective tissue in the foot or leg. Put simply, you walk differently because something else hurts. Although foot strengthening exercises may help, the key is to find out why your feet are turning inward in the first place. See your doctor before beginning foot exercises to deal with the underlying condition.
When you have foot pronation, which means turning the foot inward, the heel strikes towards the outside edge of the foot when taking a step. As you pull your body forward, the foot continues to roll on the outer edge, so when the toes come down, they turn slightly inward. Walking in this manner can cause other foot problems such as fallen arches. Conditions that may lead to foot pronation include weakness in the hips due to obesity, shortened Achilles tendons, plantar fascitis and ligament weaknesses in the feet. Exercises for the feet and ankle muscles may help fix the problem by providing more support as you step down on your foot.
Toes flexes strengthen the ligaments in the feet. Sit down in a chair with one foot slightly in front of the other. Curl your toes under. You should notice a pull on the outside of your foot as your toes curl. Lift the toes up off the floor, balancing the foot on your heel. Keep the toes curled under as you lift. Hold for three seconds and then relax your toes. Do this exercise 15 to 20 times and then switch to the other foot.
Sit down on the bed or a bench with your foot hanging approximately 2-inches off the edge. Rotate your foot at the ankle as if trying to draw small circles with your toes. First, rotate clockwise for 15 seconds and then rotate counterclockwise for another 15 seconds. Repeat the exercise drawing a larger circle with your toes. Do this for 15 seconds in each direction and then switch to the other leg. Toe circles help build up the muscles in the ankles to give your feet more stability.
Lay a towel out in front of a chair and sit down with your foot on top of it. The goal of this exercise is to crumple up the towel using nothing but your toes. Pull the toes inward toward your body as if trying to arch the foot. This will cause the towel to bunch up. As you flatten out the toes, push the towel away from you to straighten it. Scrunch and straighten the towel 20 times and then switch to the other foot. As you grow stronger, put a weight on the end of the towel to increase the resistance. For example, place a 1 lb. dumbbell on the top of the towel, so you pull the dumbbell each time the foot arches.
Is This an Emergency?
- Missouri Foot and Ankle Center; Intrinsic Strengthening Exercises; Saul Trevino, M.D.
- NYU Langone Medical Center; Exercises to Relieve Heel Pain or a Tight Heel Cord; Jan Nissl, RN, BS; 2008
- "The Physician and Sportsmedicine"; Hyperpronation and Foot Pain; Steven D. Stovitz, MD; J. Chris Coetzee, MD