Flat feet (also called pes planus or “flatfoot”) are relatively common. Characterized by fallen or collapsed arches, the condition affects up to 14% of adults in the United States.¹ Some babies are born with flat feet, but a lot of individuals experience fallen arches later in life.
Injuries and health conditions like obesity, arthritis, and muscular disorders can be a cause. Pregnancy and aging can also contribute to flat foot deformity. Not sure how to tell if you have flat feet? Some flat foot people sometimes don’t have any symptoms, but many experience chronic flat feet pain, discomfort, or overuse injuries.
If you have fallen arches, you might be wondering, Can you fix flat feet? The team at Vionic is passionate about podiatry, and we know a thing or two about correcting and relieving a variety of foot conditions. Find remedies, tips, and pointers on how to fix flat feet below.
How to Correct Flat Feet
If flat feet don’t cause you any foot pain or discomfort, fixing the condition might not be necessary. But if fallen arches contribute to ongoing pain, stress, imbalance, poor posture, alignment issues, plantar fasciitis, or other foot conditions, you’ll want to find a solution.
Correcting flat arches can make your feet and entire body feel a lot better. Plus, there’s a good chance it’ll help prevent future ailments.
There are various approaches you can take to fix flat feet. This includes a stretching and strengthening routine, physical therapy, rest, and in some cases, flat foot surgery. Orthotics and arch support shoes can also make a big difference. Here’s what you should know about each approach.
Stretching and Strengthening
Some individuals with collapsed arches have shortened Achilles tendons. The condition can also cause heel pain and tight calf muscles, especially along the posterior tibial tendon. Stretching these areas regularly can alleviate discomfort and lengthen your tendons.²
Try these stretches for flat feet:
- Standing with your hands pressed against a wall, extend one leg behind the other with both feet flat on the floor to stretch your calves and Achilles tendon. Then switch sides.
- Standing on a step with one foot behind the other hanging half-way over the edge, slowly rise up to your tiptoes to stretch your arches, then lower back to a neutral position. Do a few reps, then switch sides.
- Sitting on a chair with a golf ball or roller underneath one foot, roll your foot back and forth, focusing on the arch, then switch sides.
We recommend repeating at least a few reps of these stretches on each side two or three times as often as every day. Strengthening moves can be beneficial as well.
Try these strengthening exercises for flat feet:
- Standing with your feet hip-width apart, shift your weight to the outer edges of your feet while raising your arches as high as you can, then slowly release back down.
- Sitting in a chair with a towel underneath your bare feet, use your toes to scrunch up the material. Hold this curled position for a few seconds, then slowly release.
- Standing flat on the floor or with your heels hanging over a step, roll onto your tiptoes while lifting your heels as high as you can. Hold for a few seconds, then lower down.
- In a standing position, press your big toe into the floor while lifting your other toes. Next, slowly lower your four toes while raising your big toe. Do a few reps, then switch feet.
Try doing these moves three or more times a week to strengthen your calves, toes, and arches. If you can fit it into a daily routine, even better. It might take a few weeks of stretching and strengthening before you start to notice any improvement.³ But like all exercise regimens, consistency will pay off.
When flat feet contribute to overuse injuries, physical therapy can help correct the problem. A physical therapist will work with you on various stretches, postures, and muscle-strengthening moves to treat and prevent injuries. They’ll also recommend at-home techniques and lifestyle changes you can implement on your own.
Have you considered orthotic inserts? Sometimes called insoles, arch supports, or just orthotics, over-the-counter inserts can provide relief from flat foot pain and discomfort. You might be able to get custom orthotics from your podiatrist, which are created from a mold of your feet. But OTC options can be just as effective and might be worth a shot.
Like many of these remedies, orthotic inserts won’t reverse flat feet, but they can alleviate your symptoms and reduce stress on your heel bone, ankle, and the ligaments on the bottom of your feet. Supportive insoles can also enhance your alignment, improve your balance, absorb impact, and make your shoes much more comfortable.⁴
Vionic carries arch-support insoles for men and women in both full-length and three-quarter-length options. They can be placed in any pair of shoes to improve under-foot contact and deliver all-day wearability.
Staying off your feet won’t correct or fix fallen arches per se, but it’s often necessary for relieving symptoms associated with the condition. If running, walking, dancing, or prolonged standing causes heel pain, shin splints, or aggravates your feet or legs, some rest and relaxation might be the best solution—at least temporarily. You can also try wearing footwear specifically made to support recovery, such as our recovery sandals, to help your feet rest and recharge.
In most cases, surgery isn’t recommended for flat feet. However, if the condition is a result of an injury, torn tendon, or bone deformity and other therapy approaches haven’t worked, an operation might be a reasonable solution. Bear in mind that surgery doesn’t actually correct collapsed arches. It only aims to fix the problem associated with your flat feet.
Another option is to get arch support shoes with built-in orthotics. If you think orthotic shoes can’t possibly be fashionable, we’re pleased to tell you you’re wrong. You can find some of the best shoes for flat feet in a broad range of styles, including women’s flats with arch support, trendy sneakers, dress shoes, and sandals. Don’t believe us? Check out the curated collections from Vionic.
Orthotic Inserts and Supportive Footwear from Vionic
All Vionic shoes are designed with our exclusive Vio-Motion Support technology. Each pair has three-zone comfort with arch support, heel stability, and cushioning in all the right places. Our styles come in whole and half sizes, and women’s shoes are available in medium and wide widths to accommodate feet of various shapes and sizes. And our orthotic inserts feature the same innovative technology as our footwear.
Many of Vionic’s products carry the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) Seal of Acceptance. This means they provide adequate pain relief and support overall foot health.
1. Aenumulapalli, Ashok et al. “Prevalence of Flexible Flat Foot in Adults: A Cross-sectional Study.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR vol. 11,6 (2017): AC17-AC20. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2017/26566.10059
2. “Flatfeet”. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/flatfeet/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372609
3. Emily Cronkleton. “What are flat feet?”. Healthline. Updated on Oct 16, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/flat-feet-exercises
4. Kim, Eun-Kyung, and Jin Seop Kim. “The effects of short foot exercises and arch support insoles on improvement in the medial longitudinal arch and dynamic balance of flexible flatfoot patients.” Journal of physical therapy science vol. 28,11 (2016): 3136-3139. doi:10.1589/jpts.28.3136