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Learn Arch Lifts - a foot strengthening exercise

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Updated August 16, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

foot exercise

Before and After Arch Lift

(c)2010, Marguerite Ogle

Lifting the arches is one of the easiest foot exercises you can do, yet it is a very effective foot strengthening exercise that helps shape and maintain the arches of the feet.

There are 3 arches in the foot. Not everyone knows this. Most of us think of the obvious arch that shows up along the inside of our foot. That is the medial longitudinal arch. But there is another arch that runs lengthwise along the outside of the foot, the lateral longitudinal arch. And we have an arch that runs side to side across the mid-foot which is the transverse arch.

We need all 3 of of our foot arches to be strong and flexible in order to have healthy feet that provide a good foundation to stand on and move from.

Easy steps for lifting the arches foot exercise:

  1. Align Your Foot and Leg: You can do this exercise standing or sitting. If you do it standing, do it with your legs and feet in parallel position. If you are seated, have your shins straight up and down so that the angle of your ankle is similar to what it would be standing. see fig. 2

    There is a wide variety of curve to the arches of the foot that fall within the normal range. Yours may be greater or less than what is pictured here. What is important is to feel the lift and get a sense of all 3 arches working.

  2. Lift the Arches: Keep your toes relaxed, don't scrunch them up, and pull the ball of your foot and heel toward each other. Imagine that a dome is inflating under the middle of your foot. The foot stays on the floor. see fig. 3

    Tips: Feel as if your heel is scooping under toward the ball of your foot. This won't look very dramatic, and your foot probably won't move, but it will subtly change shape. You should be able to see that medial arch lift if you look to the inside of your foot.

    As you do the arch lifting, think in terms of the 3 arches of the foot. That will help you get the all-the-way-around feeling rather than just a long arc front to back.

  3. Release the arch lift

  4. Repeat 3 to 5 times
    You can do this foot exercise throughout the day. It is an easy one to sneak in just about anywhere, anytime.

Next, move on to stretching and flexing the foot with towel curls.

Did you know that Joseph Pilates invented equipment to exercise the foot? Learn about Pilates foot exercise equipment

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