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Three Exercises To Stretch And Strengthen Your Arches

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If you suffer from arch pain, taking the time to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your arches can help alleviate the pain. When your muscles are strong and loose, wearing uncomfortable shoes every once in a while or walking all day won't cause so much pain and soreness. For best results, try performing these three exercises once per day. With any luck, you'll notice your arches getting stronger and your painful episodes subsiding within just a few short weeks.

Sideways Toe Stretches

This exercise is easy to perform while you're sitting at your desk working or browsing the internet. As long as you're not wearing shoes, you're set to go. Start by curling all of your toes under your foot. Focus on contracting the muscles in your arch as you do so. Then try to curl your big toe towards the outside of your foot. Even if it barely moves as you do this, that's okay – the point is that you are contracting the muscles in your arch that move your big toe inwards. Keep those muscles contracted for 5 – 10 seconds, and then let your toes uncurl. Rest for a second, and then repeat the exercise 10 – 15 times before working your other foot.

Wall Stretches

Runners often perform this stretch to loosen their calves, but if you do it barefoot, it also stretches out your arches. Stand so that you are facing the wall. Then, put the toes of one foot against the wall, about 4 – 5 inches from the ground, and plant your heel firmly onto the ground. Bend forward slightly until you feel the tension in your calf and arch. Hold this position for 15 - 20 seconds, and then switch to the other leg. Keep alternating legs until you have stretched both arches 5 times.

Toe Raises

This exercise strengthens the muscles in your arch, along with the opposing muscles along the top of your foot. Take off your shoes (you can keep your socks on), and stand on a flat surface. Rise onto the balls of your feet so that your heels are suspended in the air. Hold onto a wall or chair for support, if needed. Hold this position for as long as you can tolerate, and then lower your heels back onto the ground. Repeat the movement 10 – 12 times.

Keep in mind that sometimes arch pain has a more sinister cause than weak muscles. If your arch pain is severe enough to keep you from walking, or if it does not improve in spite of performing these exercises, you may be suffering from arthritis, a ligament injury or a fracture. Seek diagnosis and treatment from podiatrists or physical therapists in your area, so you can get back on your feet.