Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
8 Oct

How to Strengthen Your (Bare, Flat) Feet

About 20% of adults have flat feet. A small subset of the population suffers from hereditary flat foot, but most of it is developed. Very few of us are actually born with flat foot. In this post I’ll explore what you can do to avoid flat feet in the first place, and if you already have them whether it is possible to reverse the damage.

Since publishing blog posts on ditching shoes, alternatives to going barefoot, and others I now receive regular reader emails like this one:

Dear Mark,

I’ve had flat foot all my life (18 years so far) and always wondered about the cause from an evolutionary stand point, and any negatives that might come from it. I vaguely remember the doctors subscribing foot supports and a lot of unnecessary products which I haven’t used in a decade. I don’t have any problems that I know of, but just wondering if there’s any alterations I should make to my workout routine to benefit me more? Thanks in advanced.

Ahmed

Great question, Ahmed.

First, how do we develop flat feet? Almost every online resource gives a few stock answers for the cause of flat foot. Most places say something like this:

Causes of Weak Arches:

Flat feet can be hereditary and present themselves at birth. For others the condition can occur as a result of mis-treating the feet – for example wearing high heels for prolonged periods of time, or wearing shoes with no support.

Flat feet or fallen arches can also result from:

  • Weakened muscles in the foot due to aging
  • Weakened muscles in the foot due to injury

Or this:

Causes:

  • Weakened muscles due to aging or heavy strain placed on the feet.
  • Standing or walking for long periods in high heels.
  • Wearing shoes that don’t provide proper arch support.

Okay, weakened muscles in the foot I can buy as a cause. In fact, it’s almost certainly one of the primary causes of flat foot. High heels aren’t doing us any favors, either, although I’d amend that one to include anything with even slightly-raised heels as a causative agent. I cannot, however, agree with the contention that lack of shoes without “proper arch support” is the problem; I’d even say that it’s the exact opposite. Try “Wearing shoes that do provide proper arch support” instead. Shoes do little else but provide an environment that our feet simply haven’t truly adapted to.

Our genes want us to be barefoot. In fact, it’s the only environment they know, having been born into a shoeless existence. On an individual scale, you could say we adapt to our shoes, but not on a genetic level. Evolutionarily, we’re still walking on the same bare feet Grok used to get around his environment. In fact, hominids have been obligate bipeds for over two million years. Our feet were arguably the first things to develop. Before the big brains, the complex tool making, and the language, our ancestors were walking upright on feet that looked remarkably similar to our own. But don’t tell that to the guys at Nike. They’re convinced those millions of years of natural selection still weren’t enough to produce a working, functional foot that doesn’t require manmade supportive footwear (unless, of course, you buy the Nike Free, in which case the lack of support is suddenly beneficial – awesome logic, huh?).

The Evidence

Before I get carried away on a tangential rant against athletic shoes, I’ll try to stick to the topic at hand. We know that shoes alter the structure and function of the foot. I mean, it sounds like plain common sense, but there’s also some concrete evidence. Back in 1905, an orthopedist named Dr. Philip Hoffman conducted a “Comparative Study of Barefooted and Shoe-Wearing Peoples” (don’t you just love old research?) and published his results in the American Journal of Orthopedic Surgery. He also took a ton of photos.

Here’s one of a foot that rarely – if ever – saw the inside of a shoe.

Note the wide toes, and how a straight line can be drawn through the axis. Looks pretty healthy and stable, right?

Now look at this photo of a pair of feet and the shoes they’re shoved into.

Notice the narrow structure and the cramped toes, especially the angle of the big toe. It’s pointing inward!

Shoe wearing acts quickly, too. Here, Hoffman snapped photos of two sets of feet.

Foot A is that of a child who has worn shoes for a mere three months, while Foot B is that of an adult who’s gone barefoot his whole life. Three months was all it took to drastically shape the child’s feet. Already his big toe is turning inward.

In the end, Hoffman concluded that of the “one hundred and eighty-six pairs of primitive feet examined, [he] did not find a single foot associated with the symptoms of weakness so common in adult shoe-wearing feet, which are weakened by the restraint the shoe exerts over function.” He also noticed that foot development was remarkably similar, in all populations, up until the introduction of foot wear. Shoes, it seems, have an undeniable ability to alter one’s natural foot structure.

But wait: there’s even more. Researchers in India found (PDF) that flat foot was far more prevalent among people who wore footwear before the age of six. Kids who ran around barefoot for most of their first six years – the formative years, it turns out – had better developed longitudinal arches and less flat foot. Among children who wore footwear on a regular basis, 8.2% suffered from flat foot (compared to 2.8% of barefoot kids). No other factors had comparable impacts. Adults didn’t have higher rates of flat foot than the kids, unless they reported wearing shoes as children. Why do we wear these things, anyway?

If you’ve got kids or are planning on it, you may want to take a good long look at their shoes – or lack thereof.

What Can You Do About It?

Okay, that’s all very compelling, but what does a guy like Ahmed do about his condition? Whether it was inherited (not likely) or developed through footwear usage, he’s still got to deal with a pair of flat feet. He can’t go back in time to age four and throw out his baby sneakers. He can’t erase the years and years of shoe-wearing, years that may have exacerbated his problem (kudos for ditching the orthotics, though!). Is Ahmed beholden to his situation? Are his feet forever altered?

No! Assuming his flat foot was developed, he’s still got the genetic potential to improve his feet and – at least partially – restore some of his natural structure and strength. You’ll still technically be flat footed, but you should be able to restore total functionality to your feet.

The first, perhaps most important step is to stay away from orthotics and shoes with “plenty of arch support.” Rather than help you solve your problem, shoes with arch supports prop you up and lead to weak, atrophied foot musculature. Your feet aren’t grasping, pulling, pushing, and flexing inside a pair of athletic trainers; they’re growing soft and growing weak. Fixing, or at least mitigating, your flat feet is going to require some serious foot strength.

Next, spend as much time as humanly possible with your bare feet. If you’re at home, remove your shoes as soon as you enter. If you’re heading out to take the dog on a walk, try circling the block in your bare feet. Mail’s come? Shoeless. Early morning paper? Barefoot. Living room workout? Do it without shoes on. You’ve got to learn to use your feet again, and the best way to do so is to simply live, eat, breath, and sleep barefoot.

Try toe running. When I haven’t done any serious barefoot work (which is very rare, actually; I’m almost always barefoot or in minimalist footwear) in awhile, I’ll hop on the treadmill in my socks (to reduce slippage) and do five or six minutes of light jogging. The catch is that I make sure to stay on my toes the entire time. This strengthens the ligaments and muscles (there are over a hundred of ‘em in the human foot) and prepares them for future activity.

A Few Simple Exercises to Strengthen Your Feet

Do toe spreads. Sit, stand, or lie down and fan your toes out as widely as possible. Create space between each toe. Hold this position for ten seconds, and repeat the exercise ten times daily per foot.

Point at things with your toes. Pick something, anything, in the room and point your toes at it. Now flex your foot. Hold it for five seconds, then release. Again, do this ten times per foot each day. For extra work, try tracing the alphabet with your feet in midair each day.

Get on your toes. Stand on your tippy-toes and just walk around for five minutes each day. Never let your heels touch the ground for the duration. Barefoot toe treadmill work is a worthy alternative.

Try side walking. Stand up (barefoot, of course) and get in a shoulder wide stance. Bend your knees slightly and roll onto the outer edges of your feet. Keep the weight on your outer feet and slowly raise up on your toes. You should feel your longitudinal arch stretching; once you do, hold that position for five seconds. Repeat five times each day.

Walk in sand. Sand is never the same. If you kick off your shoes and hit the grains (yeah, I just coined that phrase: “hit the grains”), you will be catapulting your virgin bare feet into a chaotic, ever-changing environment that will force them to adapt. Hyperbole aside, walking barefoot in the sand is a highly effective way to strengthen your feet.

I can’t stress this enough: go slowly. From the previous pictures, it’s obvious how much of an impact shoes can have on our bodies. For many of us, a lifetime of shoe wearing means the risk of overtraining our bare feet is possible, or even likely, if we don’t exercise caution. You don’t want to leap blindly into barefoot sprints with severely flat feet and risk injuring yourself even further, do you? Do the strengthening exercises before anything else.

Again, the damage may be done, and the flat feet may be permanent. I’m obligated to say it. There is, however, a lot of anecdotal evidence, especially on some of the barefoot running sites, that suggests people with flat feet can prosper without shoes (and even cure their condition), but there’s little in the way of actual, concrete evidence. We do know that shoes affect the structure and function of our feet; what we don’t know is whether the damage can be reversed. You can certainly strengthen your feet simply by removing your shoes and going barefoot as often as possible – and I highly doubt we’re forever beholden to an artificial adaptation. We often hear about people adopting the Primal Blueprint and turning their lives around in a month after eating the Standard American Diet for years, because our genes are hardwired to prefer certain things and our bodies can recover from an awful lot of abuse. Maybe our feet are the same way. Maybe actual structural changes can’t be completely overcome, but I’d be willing to wager that through careful, targeted foot exercises and a focus on barefoot living, we can make them almost irrelevant.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on flat feet and a barefoot existence. Hit me up with a comment. Thanks for reading, everyone!

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. At age 13 my arches fell, probably a result of sitting at home reading instead of getting any exercise. Previously I had fairly normal looking feet.

    Hurt just walking.

    I started playing tennis. I did not play because I wanted to get fit or because I thought it would heal my feet. Just wanted to. Painful and frustrating. Within a week of starting, I was playing every day. By the end of summer I typically played 4-5 sets of singles a day, every day. My feet hurt like hell.

    After about 2 years of this, I noticed I had arches again and my feet no longer hurt.

    Although my recovery was probably aided by my youth, I suspect some people of whatever age can recover from foot problems by exercising their legs more than they probably think they can.

    Now 65, my feet are still strong. I played 3 hours of tennis yesterday outside (also shoveled snow off the courts).

    Stephen Lehr wrote on December 13th, 2013
  2. I tried stretching my feet but every time I do I get a bad muscle cramp in the center and so I stopped… what should I do?

    Yesenia wrote on January 21st, 2014
  3. This was great stuff…could not believe my eyes! Was attracted soon as you mentioned the evolutionary bit.
    It was a startling coincidence. I will be 80 in March and have had confounded foot
    problems all my life. Started to do Hatha Yoga a few years ago for this problem but
    for a multitude of others! By chance got to look at some additional foot exercises on the net and these included the very intrusive and make-sense exercises you’re
    advocating …they work! I concur with your comments of the adverse effects of shoes, but at least only last week I bought myself a pair of wide-fitting shoes, not high and in which I give my feet so much more freedom.
    The result of all this! It grows more positive by the hour. (should have said my feet are as flat as boards! and it’s been no fun, and all sorts of hip problems, and
    1cm plus length difference in my right leg.)
    It was great stuff again, and if I work at it: the exercises and diet, too, should have
    inter alia a wonderful pair of feet …or at least ones that will be adequately functional. Thanks for the common sense and knowledge.
    Yours
    Nathan

    Nathan Morris wrote on January 29th, 2014
  4. I like your ideas about strengthening your feet. The only one I am unsure about is side walking. I have flat feet with my ankles rolled inwards (now trying to not let it worsen). My dad also has flat feet. He walks exactly the way you described as side walking on a day to day basis even with shoes on. I picked up the same walking out of imitation I guess.

    What I want to say is, I still have flat feet (flexible type). However due to years of walking where you roll your feet inward; putting weight on the outer edge of your feet, my dad developed bow legs where his knees arches outwards when his feet are together. So now his knees are causing him a ton of pain. So yea.

    dubs wrote on February 4th, 2014
  5. Had flat feet since a child. Used to be agony when in junior school when in gym asked to climb ladder several steps, then jump off = ouch, saying that mildly.
    Since then? I have and do walk barefoot or in socked feet as much as I can.
    Was given arch supports etc etc etc, but never did me any good, nor did any exercises – the foot man I saw said my feet were the flatest he had seen.

    Suffice to say, years have rolled on, had a few accidents that have caused major probs in other areas, hence now I’m disabled.

    Pain never too much off an issue in my feet, till now, one foot [ probably due to using a crutch when I try to go out – cant seem to use both crutches and hold shopping same time ] so that probably is/has weakened my right foot more. Have alot of pain underfoot now and that foot swells badly – doesnt help that I’m disabled, not mobile due to other major pain etc and mainly housebound and I’m only mid forty.

    Last few months can only wear slipper boots if I do go out and, only found out that not any one of my single shoe / boots I have fit that foot, so barefeet and slipperboots at the moment and alot of pain when trying to weightbare / walk on right foot.

    Will try to keep right leg/foot rested high to reduce swelling when I can and, will try your alphabet stretching [ I do circle foot, wriggles toes etc etc etc ] but will try anything.

    [no, cant go to dr as he took early retirement , I’d been a patient of his since I was born, so he knew about all my problem, his replacement new female gp is hopeless ]

    Angie C wrote on February 12th, 2014
  6. I have “flexible” flat feet that still have “spring”. They’ve been like that for several decades.

    I go barefoot anytime I can–walking barefoot but not running barefoot. At cold temperatures low as 40 degrees F and up to hot temperatures with a heat index of 100 degrees F–I have a wide range of temperature tolerance. Not just grass and smooth dirt either–also on sidewalk (smooth or slightly rough), or asphalt (blacktop or gravel embedded asphalt). Not just short distances–often for as long of a distance as my feet can last (before getting sore arches and walking becomes much more delicately overall) but also stopping periodically as needed if the I feel too much burn from the scuffing and/or stopping periodically on shade spots or cooler surfaces as needed before the feet burn way too much on hot surfaces. So, when I do go barefoot more than just throwing out the trash or going to check the mail, my feet get a multi-hour/longer distance workout for that day (also including any driving barefoot and shopping in grocery stores or warehoure stores barefoot).

    Arch observations? I if I sit relaxed and put my feet up, they have an arch, somehat low. If I point my toes still sitting relaxed, the skin on the sole of the foot gets more “wrinkly”, but the arch does not increase. If I stand feet fully on the flat surface, I can barely put a finger under the arch. If I stand on the balls of the feet and toes on a flat surface–then the arch gets significantly higher. If I stand only on the toe pads on a flat surface then then the arch gets really higher–very close in height to what someone’s foot with a high curvy arch looks like when standing on a flat surface. That means the arch is not rigidly low when relaxed and almost completely flat when standing at *all* times–it still has strength, so it still has spring.

    But when I walk, I can see the arch stretch only a small amount (if I am walking past a building with a reflective window) but it never gets higher than it was when I was standing still with the feet fully on the flat surface. I leave entire foot-shaped footprints in the sand when walking on beach near the water, completely foot-shaped wet footprints after getting out of a pool and walking on a pool deck, and when I walk barefoot almost the entire foot except for about about the last half inch or so of the sole nearest the middle of the arch is the dirt pattern (when it gets dirty on paved surfaces).

    Except for informational purposes in this comment, I don’t care if the arches fall that much and look almost completely flat when standing or walking–my feet seem strong enough to go 5k to 10k on moderate temperature mostly smooth paved surfaces. I’m not trying for high arch feet, nor high arch footprint shapes, nor high arch barefoot dirt patterns.

    That said, if I do have to wear shoes then I *do* wear arch support inserts (for closed shoes) or arch support flip-flops (such a Keen brand men’s flip-flops)–the arches are going to fall anyway, so why let them fall anymore from unsupported shoes?

    Heatfooter wrote on March 19th, 2014
  7. Hi mark

    I have a flat foot have have effected my knees. I have pain on the left side of my kne of my right leg.
    Any solution for that please let me know .

    Pallavi wrote on March 19th, 2014
  8. Yo, I don’t know if you still reply to people here, just wanna ask for your advice on something..
    I’ve got almost totally flat feet from an early age, I’m 19 years old and been doing exercise for most of my life. Now, because I have to join the army for 2 years (it’s mandatory in the country I live in) I want to join the special forces team. They basically run and walk around a lot, like 40 miles a week maybe…
    I am pretty athletic and in good shape, I can do any and all types of exercises they do and have enough stamina to do them, but I’m worried about running, because when I run around 1 mile in normal sports shoes my feet start bothering me.
    I will join this unit, but I can leave if I can’t handle it.
    So is there any advice you can give me, that can help improve my performance and reduce permanent damage to my feet, or should I simply visit a professional?
    PS. I practice Judo 3 times a week, meaning I do barefooted exercise that often.

    Nick wrote on April 1st, 2014
  9. I have had chronic knee pain. It appears the problem is not my knee but my feet. I have large inward turning big toes which people say are bunions but i have had them all my life. My arches are flat. The pain in my knee is dreadful. I am about to get insoles however i have recently started with yoga and like the idea of strong feet. I have been over last few days engaging my feet and i can feel it pull on my knee.
    I would love some advice. I sit most of the day as i am a therapist.
    Vivi

    vivienne wrote on April 25th, 2014
  10. Thank you for sharing! I suffer from flat feet (although until recently I never considered it suffering). I also have a rather large collection of heels in varying heights. About a year and a half ago I wore a pair of heels out with friends and did a considerable amount of walking; my feet haven’t been the same since! I started to notice pain in my arches and calves the day after wearing heels. I started to wear more flip flops and going barefoot and then when the winter came, shoes were the last thing I wanted to wear (except for the warmth they provided). I am really new to the Primal idea, but one of the first adaptations I made was going barefoot, and buying minimus footwear. I’m happy to see the exercises which I will be doing shortly when I head to the gym. I do agree with going slowly, but then again, I’m not an avid runner by any means.
    Thanks again!

    Sheila Wilkins wrote on April 28th, 2014
  11. So, I enjoy hiking, the sort where I pack a rucksack with a tent, cooking stove and food and then disappear for up to 5 or 6 days.
    The thing that holds me back is always my feet, after a day of my strongest painkillers not working I have to give up!

    I don’t have flat feet and in everyday life don’t have much problem with my them. They have always been narrow and are quite small for my height and sometimes the arches just randomly hurt as though I’ve pulled a muscle in them for a day or two.

    Already I never wear shoes at home and I flex my toes all the time because I have this terrible habit of clicking them :s What else can I do to stop that pain when I walk long way?

    Rebecca J wrote on May 14th, 2014
  12. Im nineteen years old and Im actually unsure whether my flat feet were genetic or developed. I know however that I was diagnosed when I was thirteen and given inserts that did nothing but put my feet through dire pain every day. So I wuit wearing them after about a year. And ever since, Ive had issues using my feet properly. Ive been slightly overweight most of my life, and I know that makes the sitiation worse. What I want to point out though, is that with flat feet, your feet arent the only parts of your body at risk. It also destroys the muscles supporting your knees. It has caused my knees to shift inwards and I constantly walk on my feet, feeling immense irritation from my nonexistent inner ankles up my calf to my knee. I feel it 24/7 and I just want to find a way to avoid that pain without having to pay to go through a painful surgery. This is an old post, but I hope to still recieve a response of sorts.

    AJ Stone wrote on July 7th, 2014
  13. My feet are so flat that my shoes tears the sides of my socks I have cut my shoe wear to every now and then and they ask me were are my shoes I tell them my shoes hurt more then broken glass so I just wear white socks most of the time.

    Ian Christopher Alexander wrote on July 16th, 2014
  14. hello
    my son, who is ten have severe flat feet and using orthotics different every year. He hates all of them. orthotics are very expansive but still no change at all. I am so worried about him. please let me know what else I should do for him. I am going to make him do bare foot and foot exercise. anything else I should do for him. please let me know.

    my email is farzana1016b@yahoo.com

    farzana wrote on July 20th, 2014
  15. Oh,thanks God who make me see your opinion.I’m sure i can get rid of cracking and popping in my ankles with these.I hope i can do better in gymnastics from starting my 16 years old age.
    Thank you
    Amir Hussain from Iran.

    Amir Hussain wrote on July 27th, 2014
  16. I don’t know what the fuss is all about with having flat feet. I’ve had flat feet for my whole life of 57 years and I would not trade them for arched feet ever. My knees are straight and I don’t have any pain anywhere in my entire body. In my opinion, all those silly exercises and / or even worse, orthotics, are merely a waste of time and in the case of orthotics, big money. For those of us so gifted, my advice is to “get used to them.” Flat feet are a blessing.

    mark burgan wrote on August 11th, 2014
    • here’s a tip from me to help those gifted with flat feet. Stand with the balls of the feet on a book and stretch the muscles and ligaments to the maximum and let the arches rest completely on the floor. This will allow the feet to relax and not hurt anymore as the full weight of the body will be upon the soles of the feet.

      mark burgan wrote on August 25th, 2014
  17. Hello,

    I did enjoy reading this, although primitive lifestyles were shorter than the current life expectancy. Now that we can live much longer, maybe our feet are not holding up and we need arch support to help with collapsed arches.

    I am not a doctor and do not know the answer. According to this article, I probably have weak arches because I love arch support.

    Rebecca wrote on September 10th, 2014
  18. I was born with flat feet (and the flattest you can imagine ;)), so I know how it is.

    Good thing is when I was little, I always walked barefoot – my parents had to remind me to at least wear socks at home 😉 because they were worried I might get sick from the marbled floor (it’s pretty cold), but I never did. It was the best period of my life.

    Later I forgot to go barefoot. Now I want to get myself those funky ‘shoes’ with toes that you wear, Mark :) How are they called again?

    Greetz!

    Adi wrote on September 18th, 2014
  19. I have had flat feet since I was born. The doctors prescribed orthopedic boots, never helped. I was always clumsy, falling down stairs, tripping everywhere. I got older, still fell down stairs, wore heels – still tripping. I am now 25, I don’t fall anymore, and I have a LITTLE arch in my feet!

    About three years ago I started doing yoga. The more you get into yoga, you have to pay attention to EVERYTHING…including your feet. In any standing pose, your toes should be spread out, like the exercise shown above, stretching them out, grasping the earth – with your big toe always north. When we lie down, most people that have feet problem, their feet face in towards each other – versus out. Its wrong. Every step, every pose in yoga, your feet should be parallel, either pointed, flexed, working various muscles in the foot. And it doesn’t stop there. Through yoga I learned I had weak ankles. It made so much sense, all the falling. No one ever said, “Hey, work on your ankles – they support your whole body and just like everyone was born with different body parts, maybe yours are weak!”.. You stand so much on one leg, alternating, standing on your toes, this will all help you walk properly. WALKING. No matter what you do, until you fix your walking you will NOT improve your flat feet. Notice your feet. If your feet go to ANY side, even a little bit, you are not walking properly. Point your big toe when you walk, and walk STRAIGHT. We should be grateful we have a flexible foot, we just have to work the muscles. If anyone needs further explaining or anything I missed… You can contact me, I have a lot to say and hopefully help you :)

    keylasbaby@gmail.com

    Keyla Reynoso wrote on October 9th, 2014
  20. What’s the best kind of footwear to wear (besides the minimalist – that wouldn’t fly in my office), especially in winter? I have arthritis in my big toe on my right foot and bone-one-bone arthritis in both knees. Ankles swell every day. I’m in barefeet at home. Thanks

    Tierney wrote on January 7th, 2015
  21. How do you know you have flat feet or not?

    Lynda wrote on January 20th, 2015
    • Basically if you have an arch under your foot, you so not have flat feet. If no arch under your feet is present then you have flat feet. The arch is supposed to be in the middle of both of your feet. Hope this helps!

      Eugene wrote on April 7th, 2015
  22. Neither of my parents have flat feet, but I have had flat feet my whole life. I’m very active but any athletic shoes I try always ending up hurting my feet and cause shin splints. What shoes would you suggest for running because you can’t go barefoot on a track..

    Macey wrote on March 17th, 2015
  23. Hello everyone, I also have flat feet and this has been the case since I was born; my left foot is normal but with pretty much no arch, unless I tense the “arch muscle” then I get a pretty normal arch; on my right foot it is the same case, but the metatarsal bones are connected with cuneiform bones, and with this foot even if I tense the “arch muscle” the arch caves in when stepping on the foot. I was wondering if running or jogging barefoot on dirt/mud would be beneficial, or could there be consequences from doing this in my current condition? Any tips or recommendations would be appreciated! Thank you.

    Eugene wrote on April 3rd, 2015
  24. I’ve had flat feet all of my life thanks to genetics. Both of my parents have it and so does my brother. For the first 10 years of my life, I had to wear orthotics because my feet were turned in so bad that my pinky toes were unable to touch the ground. Thanks to orthotics, both pinky toes can touch the ground (thankfully), and I can walk for miles without pain. Without surgery, my feet will always be flat.

    Now let me be clear about a few things, from the ages of 5-7 I was unable to walk two miles without having my ankles being in some degree of pain, eventually that moved up to my knees. I did the over the counter orthotics for a few months at a time, but when I went to go see an orthopedic about my feet, he was astounded by how flat and RIGID they were. Weight bearing or non-weight bearing, my feet are always going to be as flat as a cardboard box and that’ll never change unless I get reconstruction surgery.

    So this is just funny to me because… There’s different types of flat feet. You have rigid flat feet, flexible flat feet, and fallen arches. No matter how often someone goes barefoot with fallen arches or rigid flat feet, their foot will not change shape. It may strengthen the muscles, but it won’t strengthen the ligaments and tendons in your feet that have weaken. I’m the proud owner of rigid flat feet and trust me, I’ve walked around barefoot, ran barefoot, and have even gone through physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles in my feet. But they’re still flat. Thanks to orthotics, my foot alignment is a lot better than what was when I was 7.

    Demi wrote on May 5th, 2015
    • I am sorry to hear your pain. Are you able to create an arch when flexing the “arch” muscles?

      Eugene wrote on May 5th, 2015
  25. I have had flat feet since birth, my mother has flat feet also just not as flat as mine. I prefer to walk barefoot, have since I started walking, I am almost 31. I have never been told I have any weak muscles or anything of that nature, but have tried inserts off an on all my life. Nothing helps the pressure that flat feet feel. Not to mention how hard it is to find a nice pair of shoes, sports or dress, that have little to no arch.

    I guess I would be considered one of the few born with flat feet? I can trace it back to my great-great-grandparents at the very least.

    Ann wrote on May 6th, 2015
  26. OK, I would truly love to see all the research you’ve sited as I have proof within my husband’s family that high arches are hereditary & not effected by wearing shoes.
    Every single person in my husbands family has extremely high arches, from parents to his 5 bothers and all their children. My husband mother made them wear shoes ALL the time! Yet they all still have high arches.
    I on the other hand walked around barefoot as much as possible, (until there is several inches of snow in still barefoot). I have extremely flat feet, to the point that if I stand to long my heels & balls of my feet hurt!
    Therefore I’m finding it hard to believe this article.
    I came across it while googling for help for fatigued feet as I’m a hair dresser & my feet ache so badly some days I can barely walk on them if I don’t wear nursing type shoes with arch support.

    April wrote on June 17th, 2015
  27. This message is for Mark Burgan since you seem very knowledgeable and the owner of this page stopped responding a while ago. I have read every single post on this site all 11 pages. I will.start from the beginning. I never noticed I had flat feet in high school. I played multiple sports and always slipped my feet in cleats or the most supportive sneakers for basketball i could find. After graduating college I was a summer helper as an electrician in new york city in 2013. My father is also an electrician he had a pair of old red wing boots that were worn out and years old with his orthotics in them. Prior to this i had never ever had any foot problems in my life. His boots would make my left foot numb and i felt like my left heel was always higher than my right whenever i walked in them. I used them 5 days a week 11 hours a day to lift heavy equipment and work in them for 2 and a half months. After that i went back to a desk job and in about 3 weeks regained feeling in my foot, but developed pain and discomfort in my arch. I saw a dpm who gave me a cortisone shot and saw me in 3 weeks and fitted me for orthotics. I quickly ditched his orthotics to have another pair made by him a few weeks later. I stuck with those longer, but my ankle began to hurt and my foot was still in pain so I ditched those too. Fast forward to summer of 2014. I was just dealing with the pain of my foot which eventually turned into a burning and fatigue in my left calf as well. I was bench pressing in the gym and hurt my back. I went to a chiropractor to have it corrected who took X rays and gave me an mri. As my back showed no problems at all he prescribed me foot leveler orthotics. I have been wearing them since summer of 2014. My back pain is still here and has gotten worse whenever I stand or walk my knees now are starting to hurt on the inside where your meniscus is located and my hips are in pain as well. I have started seeing a physical therapist for my ailments. I have seen multiple chiropractors, 2 dpms and an orthopedic surgeon who took X rays of my foot and said it looked fine aside from my bunion and hammer toes. Mark i am o lyrics 24 years old and I have as about a year ago started a new job as an electrician i have to wear work boots. I have read other posts about people that have similar pains and aches to me that sound like they ate headed for a wheel chair. I am by no means ready to debilitate my life in a wheel chair or have hip or back surgeries at this age. I have my whole life ahead of me. Mark my question to you is do you think dorsiflexion and plantarflexion and strengthening exercises will help me at all? What do you think will help me. I’ve also had mri of my back and nothing not even a herniated or slipped disk has been found. I have relief from my pain when sitting or laying down and that’s what makes me think it is all stemming from my feet. If anyone other than mark as well would like to chime in with any help please do. Thanks.

    Sean wrote on June 23rd, 2015
    • Hi Sean, are you currently doing any exercises? I commented above about my foot issue, and am not consistent above exercise myself but there is a device you can buy on the Internet to align the spine. What you need is a lot of stretching, perhaps doing Pilate’s, but even regular stretching would be good along with massage (you can use a Thera cane), would be good to relieve the pain bore attempting to work on strengthening the feet. Hope to hear from you soon.

      Eugene wrote on July 10th, 2015
  28. I also have overpronation which is more severe in my left leg than my right which I am assuming is from muscle imbalances stemming from my foot. Anyone help would he greatly appreciated.

    Sean wrote on June 23rd, 2015
  29. Please help anyone I’m in immense pain.

    Sean wrote on June 24th, 2015
    • Hi Sean, are you currently doing any exercises? I commented above about my foot issue, and am not consistent above exercise myself but there is a device you can buy on the Internet to align the spine. What you need is a lot of stretching, perhaps doing Pilate’s, but even regular stretching would be good along with massage (you can use a Thera cane), would be good to relieve the pain before attempting to work on strengthening the feet. Hope to hear from you soon.

      Eugene wrote on July 11th, 2015
  30. Healing Sesamoid Fracture

    Hi Mark – what do you know about Super Cissus and healing bone fractures? I have read good things. I broke my seisamoid in mid march and have been taking Naproxen for a possible Labral tear in my hip for 3 months. My recent foot x ray showed no healing but my MRI showed the bone is still healthy. I am now going to be taking calcium supplements and come off Naproxen and just take glucosamin and cissus. Anything else that could help with the healing? I started eating primal about 6 weeks ago.

    Thank you

    Janna wrote on July 9th, 2015
  31. Hi Mark.

    Im not sure how long ive been flat footed for, becuase i only started getting the pain at 11 years old.
    My mum said it was just growing pains so i tried to ignore it.
    The pain was in my knees but more predominantly in my left knee, which is the flattest foot.
    Ive been to the doctor once about it and they saw nothing wrong in my hips, knees or ankles, but the pain is extremely annoying and sore. It keeps me awake at night so i feel sleepy when im meant to be awake. I work on a farm so im guessing that walking around in wellies from 6-8 isnt a good idea.
    Id love some advice on how to stop the pain in my knees. The doctor adviced pain killers but they dont work. I was wondering if there was any stretches or massages for my knees i coukd try? I use a support of my ankles and knees during sports activities. It doesnt seem to help..

    Olivia wrote on July 13th, 2015

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