I've spent a lot of time this week working on the technical details of this site so I haven't had much opportunity to talk about the project itself. My goal is to make this site a good resource for people with flat feet with the focus on designing an exercise program for correcting flat feet.
As part of my regular exercise routine I've been including some foot specific exercises, but not in a defined program. Part of the reason for waiting before starting a specific program was because of the time commitment for building the site. But I also needed to find a way to measure my progress in a somewhat scientific way.
In addition to tracking my results by taking weekly pictures, I also thought about using the wet foot test as seen below:
The wet foot test and photos are generally helpful for figuring out your foot type, but they don't give any real measurements that can be used to track improvement. After reading through studies discussing different arch measurement tests I decided that the Staheli arch index would be the easiest and most reliable way to track my progress.
Measuring the arch index requires getting a footprint, measuring the width of the arch and the heel, and calculating the index from those numbers. Doing this requires a footprint that's clear enough to measure, and the studies I read all used specially designed (and expensive) mats and pressure pads.
I solved this problem, as you can see in the picture above, with a bit of washable paint from the craft store (which the bottle assures me is non-toxic).
For the actual program, the plan is to spend between 10 and 15 minutes each day doing exercises specifically designed to strengthen the arch.
The exercises at this point that I think will be the most helpful are the short foot exercise and the downward dog stretch. As I am lucky enough to live within a short drive to the beach I also plan to do some barefoot running (something I've taken an interest in recently) in the sand as often as my schedule allows. So those are the basics--I'll be making changes to the program as I continue to research and learn more about the how my arches respond to different exercises. I've never seen this done before so I'm not sure what the time frame should be for improvement, but I estimate at least 6-8 weeks based on the length of time it normally takes the effects of exercise to become noticeable.
I hope everyone finds this site helpful and please continue to check back regularly to see how things are progressing!