Below are some of the basic exercises from the program I used to build arches in my feet and fix my overpronation. As my strength and flexibility improved, I progressed these exercises to make them more challenging and added a lot of new ones. But in the beginning, my routine would usually look something like this.
1. Short Foot
The short foot exercise is one of the first movements I practiced to strengthen my arches. This exercise targets the small muscles that support the arch on the underside of the foot. The goal is to shorten the distance between the ball of the foot and the heel by sliding the forefoot along the ground towards the heel.
While performing this exercise it's important to keep a neutral heel position and not let the toes curl or lift off the ground. When done correctly the ball of the foot and the heel stay in contact with the ground while the arch lifts.
Hold the flexed position for 5 to 10 seconds.
2. Calf Stretch
Having good ankle flexibility can be an important part of preventing the collapse of the arch and controlling foot pronation. The calf is a group of muscles that run along the back of the lower leg and attach onto the heel.
Keeping the knee of the back leg straight, gently lean forward while bending the knee in front until a stretch is felt in the back of the lower leg.
A few general guidelines for calf stretching:
- Feet stay pointed straight ahead
- Keep heels in a neutral position with weight distributed towards outside edges of feet
- Think about pressing heels down towards floor
Hold stretches for 30 to 60 seconds.
3. Heel Raises
Heel raises strengthen several of the lower leg muscles that support the arch. This is an exercise that can be performed in many variations. The variation above is done standing on both legs with hands placed on a wall for balance. The focus is on lifting the heels as high off the ground as possible while keeping the big toes pressed into the floor.
4. Toe Yoga
The muscles that control the toes are similar to the muscles in the hand that move the fingers. These muscles are frequently underused and may lack strength and control. Toe Yoga involves alternating between pressing the big toe down while lifting the other four toes up, then lifting the big toe up while pressing the other four toes down. Easier said than done!
Hold each lift for 5 seconds.