Yoga & Physiotherapy For Flat Feet

Flat feet are structural and easily seen when you glance at the soles of your feet. If you have no visible foot arch, this may be hereditary or from wearing shoes that do not support the arches. Many young children have flat feet, a condition referred to as flexible flat feet. When the child stands, feet look flat. But when the child rises to his or her toes, a slight arch appears. Usually as children grow older the arches develop Flatfoot is defined by clinical inspection and laser scanning. Prevalence of flat feet decreases with age 54% at 3 years, 24% at 6 years. Boys have a higher rate of FFF than girls . Flat feet is a formal reference to a medical condition in which the arch of the foot collapses with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. If this arch is flattened only when standing and returns when the foot is lifted off the ground. The condition is called flexible pes planus or flexible flatfoot. If the arch disappears in both foot positions, standing and elevated – the condition is called rigid pes planus or rigid flatfoot.

How to Fix Flat Feet

Solving flat feet starts with non-surgical methods. This includes shoe orthotics, exercises and yoga postures. The orthotics are important to prevent a regression while exercises strengthen the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Exercises for flat feet:
1. The best exercise for keeping the arch healthy is the "towel scrunch." With time and decreased demand on our feet, the small muscles become weaker.To strengthen those muscles, start out barefoot in your favorite chair and spread a small hand towel on the floor in front of you. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the towel closest to you and, reaching out with your toes as far as you can. Grab the towel and scrunch it back toward you, bunching it up under your foot. Keep reaching out and grabbing more towel until you run out. At the end of each scrunch, hold the contraction you feel in the arch for just a second before releasing. Do three sets of scrunches with a short hold at the top each day.
2. Another method to increase arch strength is toe raises on a stair or raised board. Stand on a step or board at least three to four inches off the ground with only the ball of your foot on the board and the rest of your heel and foot hanging slightly below the toes. Start with your foot in a neutral position and raise up to your tiptoes. Pressing down with your toes. When you lower, resist the urge to drop your heel too far below the stair line. This is really a calf exercise and your focus is on your arch. Ten arch raises per set and three sets should be easily accomplished without pain.
Orthotics are arch inserts that go into your shoe. In the beginning, your orthotics may feel like they are hurting your arch. It is true and the feeling is normal as some changes need to happen. You may also get a blister on your arch so wear double socks.
Yoga Posture for Flat Feet
Squat with Toe Stretch (knees on floor)
Kneeling with the toes tucked under is a great way to stretch the bottom of the feet. This can be a very intense stretch for beginners as it breaks up tension in the sole of the foot.
Squat (knees up, heels on floor)
Squatting with the knees up strengthens the muscles of feet, toes and lower legs which help in overall health of the feet.
An important posture for foot health. This asana is excellent also for meditation and pranayama.
Method :
1. Start by kneeling on the floor, knees together and feet spread around 1½ foot away from each other.
2. The buttocks should be resting on the floor. Your feet should be kept by the side of your thighs. The inner side of each calf should be touching the outer side of both thighs. Keep your toes pointing back and let them touch the floor. Keep your wrists on your knees, your palms facing upwards and join the tips of your forefingers and thumbs. Extend your other fingers and stretch your back erect.
3. Retain this posture for as long as possible, breathing deeply.
4. Now let your palms rest on your knees for some time.
5. Next interlock your fingers and stretch your arm straight over the head, keeping your palms upside.
6. Retain this posture for about 60 seconds breathing deeply.
7. Exhale and release deep finger lock; then place your palms on your soles, bend forward and place your chin on your knees.
8. Retain the position for about 60 seconds breathing deeply.
9. Take a deep inhalation, raise up your trunk. Take your feet forward and relax.
10. If you find tough to do the asana as mentioned above, try to place your feet one over the other and rest your buttocks on them. Slowly and steadily move your toes further and further apart. Now separate your feet and take them to rest outside your thighs. Then, after a while you will find your buttocks resting properly on the floor and your body will not be on your feet.
This Asana is of very much relaxing and invigorating to the body & mind. It is performed in a sitting position with a few variations. Providing complete exercise of lower limbs, abdomen and waist.
1. To start with sit down on your prayer mat with legs folded backwards and joined together. Lower your buttocks on ankles & heels thus sitting on your toes of both feet, keeping the toes flat forward on the ground. Keep your hands on knees with palms cupping on knees. Look at your nose tip without bending neck & back straight. Maintain this posture for one minute.
2. Now release your weight from ankles and toes and put your feet flat on the ground, toes pointing out backwards. Release the body weight slowly on the legs with feet flat sitting on back of heels. Still keeping both the palms of hands over the knees and sitting with back & neck straight and looking at the nose tip. Maintain this posture for one minute.
3. Slide ‘out’ your both bent legs thus lowering your buttocks on the ground keeping both the palms in hands still on your knees but now look straight ahead . Maintain this posture for one minute.
4. Still maintain above posture & raise your both hands overhead without joining palms. Now bend forwards from waist towards ground so as that nose touches the floor and both hands remaining in prostrated position on the ground. Remain in this posture for one minute. Now get up from this prostrated position and sit once again in an erect position with palms on knees.
5. Bring your both arms on your sides lie down on your back with assistance of your elbows touching ground. Back of the head touching ground first then back of the neck and finally your back. Bring your arms over head & stretch them separately full length touching ground while both legs and feet are pressed down by your buttocks. Maintain this position for one minute. After this time period, slowly withdraw yourself from the Asana and sit down in Sukhasan for a while.
This is the longest of all asanas and provides plenty of benefits. During above Asanas breathing must be kept steady but normal through out.
1. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket with hips or groins are tight. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together.
2. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can. With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot. Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. If not possible to hold the toes, clasp each hand around the same-side ankle or shin.
3. Sit, so that the pubis in front and the tailbone in back are equidistant from the floor. The perineum then will be approximately parallel to the floor and the pelvis in a neutral position. Firm the sacrum and shoulder blades against the back and lengthen the front torso through the top of the sternum.
4. Never force your knees down. Instead release the heads of the thigh bones toward the floor. When this action leads, knees follow. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. Then inhale, lift your knees away from the floor and extend the legs back to their original position.
Assistant Professor, DAV Institute of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation,
Mahatma Hans Raj Marg, G.T. Road, Jalandhar-144008,