Foot arch pain is one of the most common foot ailments, but there can be many underlying reasons for the discomfort you’re experiencing. That’s why here at Island Foot Clinics, we’ve familiarized ourselves with every possibility and offer a comprehensive healing approach. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite arch-strengthening exercises to recommend to patients at our new Victoria, BC, and Kelowna, BC locations. We invite you to try any or all of these exercises out for yourself.
6 Exercises That Will Help Relieve Your Foot Arch Pain
1. Lift Your Arches
This simple, classic exercise can be done virtually anywhere, and patients at our Kelowna, BC, and Victoria, BC locations especially love this one. You’ll keep both feet planted firmly on a flat, smooth floor and you’ll lift up only your arch while keeping your heels and toes touching the floor. This is tricky to do, especially when you’re first starting out, so we recommend that you shift your weight to the outside of your foot as you raise your arch.
You can perform this sitting or standing, but standing is a bit easier because your full weight will be keeping your heels and toes flat on the floor. Start with a number of repetitions you feel comfortable with, such as three sets of ten arches per foot, and gradually increase your repetitions over time. This exercise allows you to get a feel for the stretch of your arch. It not only eases pain but also strengthens your arch.
2. Pick Up Marbles
This may sound odd, but placing marbles on the floor and using only your feet to pick them up can greatly benefit your intrinsic foot muscles, especially those located in the arch. This is because of the way you must curl your toes and bend your foot to pick up the items. We recommend sitting in a supportive chair for this exercise, as standing could cause accidents or injuries.
If you find this too difficult at first, you can use just about any item in place of the marbles. For example, an item such as a towel is far more pliable than a marble, so you can bend it into a shape that’s easier for your foot to pick up. You can start with ten marbles or ten repetitions with the towel per foot and work your way up each day at your own pace.
3. Curl a Towel
Don’t put your towel away just yet, because there’s another exercise you can do that’s great for stretching the arch muscles and relieving foot cramps. For this exercise, you’ll start by setting a towel on the floor in front of you and planting your heel firmly on the floor over top of the towel. From here, you’re going to curl your toes toward your foot to scrunch up the towel and lift it off of the floor.
Hold this pose for a few moments before releasing, then repeat your actions with the other foot. As you move your toes to scrunch up the towel, try to be mindful of your heel and work to keep it planted as you move your toes. Focus your attention on strengthening and flexing your arches. We recommend starting with a five-second hold for each foot and slowly increasing your time as you feel more confident.
4. Roll a Ball Beneath Your Foot
This is another exercise you’ll want to perform while sitting, as standing while attempting this can be unsafe. You’ll sit with your spine straightened and place a ball underneath your foot, such as a golf ball or a tennis ball, and you’ll move your foot to roll the ball against your arches. This exercise is highly customizable, as you can roll the ball up and down, straight across, or in small circles to hit all of your problem areas.
We recommend choosing a chair that is tall enough for your knees to remain parallel to your hips. A chair that’s too low to the ground can cause back issues if your knee is higher up as you perform the exercise. It’s important to keep your posture straight as you roll the ball, as this will help you control the pressure where you need it most. You can begin with a 30-second repetition and increase your time in 30-second increments.
5. Raise Up Your Heels
This simple exercise involves keeping your feet flat on the floor and lifting up only the heel while the toes remain on the floor. The key to success with this exercise lies in keeping your weight even on both feet and placing that evenly distributed weight primarily on the balls of your feet. The higher you lift your heels, the bigger the stretch will be. This exercise is another favorite of patients at our Kelowna, BC, and Victoria, BC locations.
If you find the exercise too difficult while standing, you can perform it while sitting, so the bulk of your weight is supported by a chair. Practice the correct form and get a feel for the stretch before you begin doing the exercise on your feet. We recommend a mixture of repetitions and holds for this exercise. Start with a five-second hold, go up and down for ten repetitions without your heels touching the floor, and finish with another hold.
6. Use Your Stairs
Stand on your stairs, pick a foot, and place your other foot one step higher (for example, if your right foot bothers you more, place your left foot on the stair above your right). The upper foot serves as balance, while the lower foot is positioned so that the heel hangs off of the step. From this position, you’ll lift the heel of your lower foot as high up as you can while keeping your toes on the step.
To get an additional stretch, rotate your knee to the side and flex your arch inward, as this will allow your arch to expand fully to its limit. Lower your heel back down from here and repeat the process with the other foot if necessary. The most important part of this exercise is mindful movement, so make sure you are performing the steps of the exercise with deliberate strength and centered balance.
Common Reasons for Foot Arch Pain in Kelowna, BC, and Victoria, BC
While it can easily be something like genetics that makes a patient prone to painful arches, oftentimes foot arch pain is caused by things like improper posture or long-term obesity. Those who have sustained past foot injuries and have not taken the time to rest or heal properly can experience arch pain long after the injury has healed.
Wearing unsupportive shoes such as sandals or high heels can exacerbate arch pain. The wrong pair of shoes can mean conditions like bunions or back and leg pain in addition to painful arches. Choosing footwear that is breathable, lightweight, flexible, and fits the shape of your foot from front to back will help immensely in keeping arch pain at bay. The widest part of your foot and the shoe should match up, and the front should not restrict your toes.
We hope a few of these exercises have provided you with some foot arch pain relief. Remember that more serious or sustained ailments cannot be fixed at home, and it’s best to get a professional’s opinion sooner rather than later. Schedule an appointment with us here at Island Foot Clinics in Kelowna, BC, and Victoria, BC at your earliest convenience. If you’re outside those areas, check out our 21 other conveniently located practices around the region.