Exercises to Keep Your Arches Happy and Get You up and Running

Now that we finally have some nice weather, here are some tips to keep you running all summer!

Summer is a great time to lace up your sneakers and get running or walking for your overall health and well-being. Did you know there are exercises you can do to strengthen your feet?

There’s no question that our feet do a lot of heavy lifting. They bear the load of our entire bodies and if part of the foot is not functioning properly, it can lead to pain, ankle problems, or problems with other joints of the lower limb.

Our feet distribute our weight and propel our bodies forward as we walk or run, and that weight shifts from heel to toe with movement. An ideal arch is neutrally aligned. If the arch of the foot is too high, or too flat, problems can arise that impact the rest of the body. Taking steps to strengthen your feet is beneficial for preventing injuries, particularly if you’re a runner, since you’re applying more force to your feet compared to when you’re walking.

Apart from orthotics, which can help support the arch of your foot consistently throughout the day, you can try these exercises1 to help keep your arches strong and your feet happy.

Towel Toe Curls

What you need: A hand towel

Step 1: Sit comfortably, with your knees bent at 90 degrees.

Step 2: Put the towel on the floor in front of you.

Step 3: Fan your toes out and grab the towel using only your toes.

Step 4: Repeat this motion, scrunching up the towel towards your body with each repetition until the entire towel is scrunched up.

Step 5: Once it’s all scrunched up, lay the towel out flat again and repeat five times per foot.

Short Foot Exercise

What you need: A hand towel

Step 1: Sit comfortably, with your knees bent at 90 degrees.

Step 2: Put the towel on the floor in front of you, under one foot.

Step 3: Use only your big toe to slide the towel back towards your heel, without lifting your toes off the ground or bending your knees. This forms an arch.

Step 4: Hold this arch for 20 seconds. Repeat with the other foot.

Step 5: Repeat steps 1 to 4 three times per foot.

If you have other questions or concerns related to your feet, injury prevention for running, or running technique, consult Dr. Jerry Wright or Dr. Tyler Hunsberger. 

1. Kim EK, Kim JS. The effects of short foot exercises and arch support insoles on improvement in the medial longitudinal arch and dynamic balance of flexible flatfoot patients. J Phys Ther Sci. 2016; 28(11): 3136-9. doi: 10.1589/jpts.28.3136.


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