Helen Clare, running coach and yoga teacher, running on a beach

How to Fix Flat Feet

Foot Strength for Runners

First off – having flat feet, or collapsed arches, is not always a bad thing and it certainly doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t run!

– but there is a higher risk of injury stemming from weak foot muscles.

Luckily, there are several things we can do as runners to develop more foot strength and support, to prevent injury if your feet are on the flatter side.

Flat Feet & Fallen Arches

Now, the muscles that form the arch of the foot are there to provide stability – they act like a bridge, providing the foot with support and protection.

So, if that arch is weakened or collapsed, we loose that support – the muscles of the foot can’t effectively engage – resulting in the foot being unable to react to the ground we are running across. They won’t be able to spring back up in an efficient running motion.

We also loose ankle support, resulting in the ankles rolling in. This often results in referred pain in the shin, knee and hip – classic running injury areas!

So, having strong feet is super important to us as runners, but what can we do to improve foot strength?

Solutions to Flat Feet

A common approach is to look for running shoes designed for flat feet. However, the issue with this approach is that wrapping feet in a protective bubble with lots of arch support, will have the result of weakening the foot muscles further! In a similar way that a plaster cast on a leg results in loss of muscle stability and power – not what we are after, right!?

The longer term and better approach is to build the strength back into the foot muscles, while transitioning to more minimalist shoes that actually allow your feet to work and stay strong – as they are designed to do!

The result of this approach is strong feet & arches, good ankle stability and greatly improved running form, with an added spring in your gait!

(Bear in mind all cases are different. In some cases, some shoe support might be needed in the short term, alongside strength work. Educate yourself with how we can improve strength and stability of the feet (like this video), before resorting to shoe support.) 

Let’s Get Started Building Foot Strength

In today’s video I’ll share a few simple exercises we can do to help develop more foot support naturally – without relying on shoes.

I’ll also talk about some additional resources for you to try, including some focussed on core and glute strength, which will also have an incredibly positive effect on foot stability.

So in summary:

  1. Try today’s video exercises to start to build foot and arch strength
  2. Transition to a more minimalist shoe which allows the muscles in your feet to work and strengthen naturally
  3. Develop a whole body training program to build a strong connected core, mobility and flexibility for the ultimate running body

Once you’ve watched today’s class, as always I’d love to hear from you. Tell me about your feet! Flat, high, in between? Ever had a foot complaint or referred pain in the knee or hip?

I’d also love to hear how do you find balancing? This is a great indication of where you are at with strength and stability – critical elements for an efficient running body.

If balancing is tricky for you right now don’t worry, I can help you make amazing progress quickly!

Looking forward to hearing from you.

All my best,
Helen

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Useful Resources

Watch my Yoga for strengthening feet

Try my Yoga to release foot and lower leg tension

Build your core strength with my Best Core Exercises for Runners

#runbetter, #runbetterwithyoga, exercises for flat feet, fallen arches, foot arch pain, natural running form, pes planus, plantar fasciitis, strength training for runners, yoga for the feet


Helen Clare

Helen Clare, founder of Helen Clare Yoga and Run Better with Yoga, is a trail runner, senior yoga teacher and yoga for athletes coach, living in Cornwall, UK.

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