The downward facing dog is a stretch taken from yoga that I’ve found really helpful for stretching tight muscles in the backs of the legs and calves. Here are the basic instructions for the exercise:
- Start on hands and knees. Hands should be underneath shoulders and your knees underneath hips
- Lift your hips up so the body forms an inverted “V” shape (as shown in the picture)
- Look at feet and try to press heels down toward the floor
- A stretch should be felt through the back of your legs and into the calves. Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat 4-5 times
Exercise Tips For Flat Feet
When I first starting stretching with the downward dog I wasn’t able to get my heels flat on the ground. After working on the exercise for a few weeks I was having more success getting my heels down. The problem though is that my arch was collapsing in that process. I was pronating my foot to compensate for the lack of flexibility in my legs.
To correct this problem what I began focusing on not letting my arch collapse, even though it meant my heels wouldn’t make it down to the ground. I did this by actively inverting (turning in) my heel. This motion is hard to describe so I’ve included a picture of what inversion looks like. Essentially, you are trying to turn your heel in so that it points toward the opposite heel.
For the downward dog, I would get into the position where I felt a stretch and then would hold the stretch while keeping my heels inverted. I did this exercise a few times a week for several months and eventually, I was able to get my heels down while still keeping an arch in my foot.