What to Do for Flat Feet – Reduce Foot Pain And Build Back Your Arches

By Dimi | Tips

Foot pain happens to anyone from time to time, but for those 20% of the US population who have collapsed arches or flat feet[1], this problem is more common than usual. Collapsed arches cause an increased strain on the ligaments of your heels. If left untreated, this condition can lead to an increased tightness, inflammation and painful health problems such as plantar fasciitis or tendonitis.

Firstly, you need to check if you are flat footed. This can easily be done with the water test. Wet your feet and step on brown paper or cardboard. Step back and examine the footprints you left. If you see a full footprint without a thinner part between the balls and heels of the foot, then you are one of the many people who have flat feet. Fear not though – there are ways to reduce the pain and possible health problems which can occur from having flat feet, and you can even exercise your feet and arches to treat the collapsed mid arches and resolve your problem permanently.


Tips on what to do if you have flat feet:

1. Ensure that your feet and arches get the proper support they need

Keep in mind that your feet and legs need to be protected from the huge impact which stepping and running on the ground has on them, especially when you have collapsed arches. Proper support will help absorb the shock from the impact and will also help keep your feet aligned when walking or running. This will reduce the soreness as well as the risk of developing more serious foot conditions and injuries. Such support can be provided by getting the proper type of shoes, orthotics or insoles which will help support your arches and absorb the impact. Get professional advice from a podiatrist and ask the staff at your shoe store for recommendations for the best types of shoes for flat feet, or for inserts and orthotics which will help alleviate the pain when walking, standing or running.

2. Avoid walking around barefoot at home or by the pool

Get house shoes which are comfortable and supportive to help reduce the pressure and impact on the feet after a long day at work or school. Clogs or slippers with added arch support are the best choice for people who have flat feet.

3. Take the time to massage your feet

Take your shoe and socks off, sit down and massage your heels by rolling a tennis ball, a golf ball or another round object with the bottom of your feet. You can also use an ice cold water bottle, which is especially soothing if you feel soreness or are suffering from plantar fasciitis or another painful inflammation of your feet. Roll them, so that the blood flow to the heels is boosted.

4. Make sure you stretch your feet properly.

People with flat feet are very likely to overpronate too. This means that the feet roll inwards when walking or running. Overpronation leads to an additional straining of the muscles of the feet and legs which are working for straightening your gait and can often end up being tightened and stressed due to the added effort. This is why stretching on a regular basis is crucial to alleviate the strain on the muscles and reduce the foot pain. Try stretching each calf against a wall. With one foot at about two feet from the wall, and with the other with the ball on the wall, place your palms on the wall and lean forward while keeping the foot on the wall straight. Hold this position for about 20 seconds and them switch legs and repeat on the other side too. Do this regularly and your feet and legs will feel better after a long day, a walk or run.

5. Do some ballet moves to help alleviate the soreness in the feet and to start building your arches

Try doing some exercises which can actually resolve your problem with collapsed arches. One excellent one is to lay down with your legs straight ahead and then start flexing your feet and them pointing the toes out. Keep repeating this exercise and you are likely to start noticing your arches getting higher. Another dance-inspired exercise is standing on your toes. Hold on to a chair and stand on your toes and balance. Step down and then stand on your toes again. By doing 3 sets of about 10 of these stretches on a regular basis, you will make sure you start building those arches up again.

6. Get rid of any excess body weight

Maintaining normal body weight is good for everybody, but it is especially essential for people with flat feet. Excessive body weight will only add to the stress and impact on the feet. It is possible that being overweight or obese can actually cause your arches to collapse and could be the reason you get flat feet.

“In both gender groups, the relationship between the MLA and BMI was positive and statistically significant. The relationship was more distinct among girls ..than among boys.”[2]

Start exercising and ditch the junk food. Don’t neglect the sport shoes you wear, there are plenty of models for all sports and arch types(e.g. running shoes or cross training shoes specifically for flat feet) Make sure you take all necessary precautions to get rid of that extra weight so that your feet feel better now!

7. Try physiotherapy

Ask a professional physical therapist to help you build your arches with a special exercise program. This can be done with various exercises as well as with the help of training equipment as well as machines which treat the feet after the exercises.

8. Order custom made orthotics.

Sure, this is a much more expensive option as compared to buying a pair of ready-made insoles, but custom made orthotic are made to fit your specific foot shape and size and can provide you with unsurpassed quality of arch support and stability. They can be worn in nearly any type of shoe and will ensure your feet and arches stay supported and protected from the excessive impact of hitting the hard ground.

9. Contact a podiatrist or surgeon.

If your flat feet are cause by a fracture or other damage to the bones, ligaments or if you have tendonitis, as a last resort you can undergo surgery to repair the problem for you.

In conclusion:

Hopefully this list of recommendations for people with flat feet will help you resolve the ongoing issues with foot pain, discomfort and injuries which are very common occurrences among people with collapsed arches. By engaging in regular exercises, stretching, physiotherapy, and by wearing the appropriate shoes, insoles or orthotics, you could be able to reverse the process and get your arches back to normal once again!


1. Fallen Arch – by Harvard Health Online
2. Body weight and the medial longitudinal foot arch: high-arched foot, a hidden problem? by Woźniacka R, Bac A, Matusik S, Szczygieł E, Ciszek E.