A big part of learning how to fix flat feet was paying attention to what my feet were doing while walking. These are some simple rules I followed to improve arch stability when walking.
1. Point the feet straight
Normal walking involves the heel striking the ground at the beginning of each step. This is called initial contact.
I used to walk with my feet pointed outward. A common name for this is duck walking.
For me, I suspect the main reason for my duck walking gait was a lack of ankle flexibility.
It was easier to keep an arch when I kept my feet pointed straight rather than my old habit of having them angled out.
Perfectly straight wasn’t necessarily the goal though. Everyone’s bone structure is different and this also affects the position of the legs.
2. Make contact with the outside edge of the foot
After the initial contact, when the heel has touched down, I focused on having the outside part of the foot (the little toe side) contact the ground first. My old way of walking involved putting too much pressure on the inside of the foot.
Thinking of keeping weight towards the outside edge of the foot helped keep the heel in a neutral position.
3. Make firm contact with the big toe
One reason the foot collapses inward is because the big toe is not effectively stabilizing the arch.
I liked to imagine when taking a step that each toe touches the ground in order, starting with the little toe. This allows for the gradual loading of weight on the inside edge of the foot and big toe. In real time this happens quickly so practicing in slow-motion can be helpful.
The entire big toe should make firm contact with the ground.
4. Press off through the ball of the foot
The foot needs to supinate, or roll back outward at the end of each step. This creates a rigid lever to propel the body forward.
I call this walking with a springy step.
To make sure I was pressing off evenly through the ball or front portion of the foot, I found it helpful to think about keeping pressure on the front two points of the foot tripod.
Walking is such a natural thing to most of us that it’s easy to take for granted how complex a movement walking actually is. I cover the changes I made to the way I walked more in-depth in the membership area of the site.
Note that these tips apply to walking. Running involves a different type of foot strike pattern that often varies from person to person.