Malayiiika

Flat feet

12 posts in this topic

Hello everyone :)

I have been doing yoga for a while now and it seems that I can't make any progress with one-legged balance poses (tree pose, half moon pose, warrior III, standing pigeon and so on) and, to a lesser extent, with high lunges. I am pretty sure the problem comes from my flat feet. I can't find ease in these poses and I feel a lot of pressure around the Achille's tendon.

Does anyone face the same issues? Do you have any advices to find ease in these poses when having flat feet?

Thanks in advance

Hildegard likes this

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Hi there Malayiiika!

It's possible that your achilles tendons are tense, but you should also consider the possibility that your calf muscles may not be flexible enough :) There are great exercises to stretch your lower legs!

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So, I don't feel pressure in my Achilles tendon when trying to balance. We may not have the same muscle weaknesses, but, there is definitely something about the small muscles in your feet that help support arches that also help with balance.  I think practicing grounding down your feet even in tadasana or all your lunges will slowly build your strength to balance in one-legged poses. A useful tip I heard about "grounding down" your feet in yoga is to not grip your toes and think about pushing your big toe down like it's pressing a button that is slightly forward of you.

Or, you can specifically investigate which muscles are weaker from your flatter arches, and try to strengthen them.  I wouldn't have believed this could happen, but it happened to me this morning during class.  I usually balance much better with my right foot than my left - overall it's my dominant leg, so I always thought it was just the leg strength (calves and ankles) helping me balance.  But today, I realized my left leg was very stable while I couldn't do half moon with my right leg.  This is after a 3 month break from yoga and even walking moderate distances while I recovered from a top of the foot injury on my right foot.  I think my arches were always on the flat side, but, all the muscles at the top of the foot and ligaments supporting the arch have weakened.  When I had some ball of foot pain (like more intense muscle soreness like DOMS, not sharp, throbbing pain) after walking with a heavy bag 2 weeks ago, I found a site to help me identify which muscle was weak.

For you, do you have pain in these areas?  http://thewellnessdigest.com/flexor-digitorum-longus-muscle-foot-and-toe-pain/ Just look at the bottom for the other areas and see where you feel pain when you walk too much.

It seemed like my flexor hallicus brevis was giving me issues, so I found this strengthening drill exercise at the end of this website page: http://fitforreallife.com/2015/07/when-foot-pain-isnt-plantar-fasciitis/

It is much more difficult for me to do this drill on my right foot than my left (lift my 4 toes while big toe is flat).

So, everyone is different - we can't really assess your situation - maybe consider going to a physical therapist? flat feet can cause long-term issues anyway.  But I thought I'd share my experience in case it gives you ideas on trying to research options.

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15 hours ago, jvanhouten said:

Hi there Malayiiika!

It's possible that your achilles tendons are tense, but you should also consider the possibility that your calf muscles may not be flexible enough :) There are great exercises to stretch your lower legs!

Thank you :). I have never thought about a lack of flexibility in my calf muscles. I will look for some specific exercises to stretch that area and see how it goes. I don't think it is the problem though because I'm quite flexible in general and I always stretch after my workout. 

11 hours ago, yogafire said:

So, I don't feel pressure in my Achilles tendon when trying to balance. We may not have the same muscle weaknesses, but, there is definitely something about the small muscles in your feet that help support arches that also help with balance.  I think practicing grounding down your feet even in tadasana or all your lunges will slowly build your strength to balance in one-legged poses. A useful tip I heard about "grounding down" your feet in yoga is to not grip your toes and think about pushing your big toe down like it's pressing a button that is slightly forward of you.

Or, you can specifically investigate which muscles are weaker from your flatter arches, and try to strengthen them.  I wouldn't have believed this could happen, but it happened to me this morning during class.  I usually balance much better with my right foot than my left - overall it's my dominant leg, so I always thought it was just the leg strength (calves and ankles) helping me balance.  But today, I realized my left leg was very stable while I couldn't do half moon with my right leg.  This is after a 3 month break from yoga and even walking moderate distances while I recovered from a top of the foot injury on my right foot.  I think my arches were always on the flat side, but, all the muscles at the top of the foot and ligaments supporting the arch have weakened.  When I had some ball of foot pain (like more intense muscle soreness like DOMS, not sharp, throbbing pain) after walking with a heavy bag 2 weeks ago, I found a site to help me identify which muscle was weak.

For you, do you have pain in these areas?  http://thewellnessdigest.com/flexor-digitorum-longus-muscle-foot-and-toe-pain/ Just look at the bottom for the other areas and see where you feel pain when you walk too much.

It seemed like my flexor hallicus brevis was giving me issues, so I found this strengthening drill exercise at the end of this website page: http://fitforreallife.com/2015/07/when-foot-pain-isnt-plantar-fasciitis/

It is much more difficult for me to do this drill on my right foot than my left (lift my 4 toes while big toe is flat).

So, everyone is different - we can't really assess your situation - maybe consider going to a physical therapist? flat feet can cause long-term issues anyway.  But I thought I'd share my experience in case it gives you ideas on trying to research options.

Thank you for the links !! Very interesting and helpful :) yes, I have been going to a podiatrist (is that a real word? Sorry, I'm not a native speaker^^) for a few years and I wear orthopedic soles. Therefore, walking doesn't really cause me pain (anymore) and I definitively have more balance when wearing shoes with my soles. I have already considered practicing yoga with my shoes on, but I don't really enjoy it. Anyway, I am going to check and try different exercises to see how it goes :)

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Yes, podiatrist is the right word!  In the US though, they go to a different school than med school doctors, but, specialize completely in feet.   I think the soles are good, so, just think of barefoot yoga practice as an opportunity to strengthen your arch muscles without support, and then the balance will naturally follow (slowly).

May I ask what you wear indoors around the house? I usually go barefoot, but, I was told that contributes to flat feet even more..  Are there specific indoor slippers or sandals you like?

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20 hours ago, yogafire said:

Yes, podiatrist is the right word!  In the US though, they go to a different school than med school doctors, but, specialize completely in feet.   I think the soles are good, so, just think of barefoot yoga practice as an opportunity to strengthen your arch muscles without support, and then the balance will naturally follow (slowly).

May I ask what you wear indoors around the house? I usually go barefoot, but, I was told that contributes to flat feet even more..  Are there specific indoor slippers or sandals you like?

yes, that's the same in Belgium: podiatrists don't go to med school.

Well, I am supposed to wear my soles all the time^^. But I never respect this rule. I just love walking around barefoot or with my fluffy slippers too much. I was told that birkenstock sandals were quite good for people with flat feet though. I am going to buy a pair of these very soon. I can tell in a few weeks if it's a good buy if you want :)

 

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Practice pada bandha to help strengthen the feet, improve balance and even lift your arches. If you incorporate this into your yoga practice, and even just when you're standing doing dishes, I think you will start to notice a big difference.

Here's a great article on Pada Bandha: http://www.markstephensyoga.com/blog/feet-pada-bandha

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I have a similar problem due to my flat feet. I wore special shoes for most of my childhood to correct this issue and while they helped a great deal, some problems remain.

For example, I have a tendency to stand on the blades of my feet (the outer edge, your pinky toe side) rather than on the soles of my feet. It makes no difference as to whether I'm wearing shoes or not. Becoming aware of this quirk, so to speak, has helped in that I remind myself to use the entire sole of my feet to stand while being very careful to evenly distribute my body weight. Doing this has helped me a great deal, as well as trying to gently press down with my big toe to make sure my arch isn't collapsing.

Another thing I've found very useful is to make sure that in warrior and lunge poses my knee is directly over the ankle. This helps distribute my body weight correctly and prevents injuries on my knees.

Lastly, doing simple ankle circles - on both directions - also help to loosen up the ligaments on my feet, which in turn helps me prevent cramping on the soles of my feet during one-legged balance poses, like the ones you mention.

Having said that, like everything else in yoga, this is a process and it's better to go easy on yourself. I avoided doing high lunges for a long time because of the painful cramping. Doing all the exercises and adjustments I mentioned earlier helped, but listening to my body and respecting its limits was just as helpful.

Malayiiika likes this

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Thank you for sharing your experience Hildegard ! I also pay attention to have my knee over my ankle when in warrior and lunge poses, but that's not always easy. Like you said, it's a process :) I keep practising and hopefully it will get better

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On 24/04/2016 at 7:39 PM, yogafire said:

Yes, podiatrist is the right word!  In the US though, they go to a different school than med school doctors, but, specialize completely in feet.   I think the soles are good, so, just think of barefoot yoga practice as an opportunity to strengthen your arch muscles without support, and then the balance will naturally follow (slowly).

May I ask what you wear indoors around the house? I usually go barefoot, but, I was told that contributes to flat feet even more..  Are there specific indoor slippers or sandals you like?

A little update: I have bought a pair of birkenstock (the gizeh model) and I don't regret it ! I have worn them during my holidays (to go to the beach, to do groceries, to walk around the city or in the countryside) and they were comfortable. I didn't have any problems with my feet (like tendinitis) even though I didn't wear my orthopedic soles most of the time. I think I'll use them as indoor shoes :)

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Thanks so much for the update @Malayiiika!  I've been activating my feet more recently now (we did an "exercise" of doing sun salutations with our toes lifted the entire time...!), so my arches are getting gradually stronger.  

So funny, I just got new shoes, too! I think my issue was more from having wide feet and too tight shoes that compressed my toes and put pressure at the top of my foot, so, I ended up getting Nike frees in the flyknit material. It's the bootie style so it fits like a sock and is soft at the top.  It's so interesting to see the different sources of the root problem but have similar symptoms (in this case, not balancing well)!

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You can try some easy yoga for flat feet. Below, you can have a look at some common and effective yoga that can be applied if you have flat feet:

  • Downward-Facing Dog
  • Intense Side Stretch Pose
  • Chair Pose
  • Extended Triangle Pose
  • Mountain Pose
  • Intense Side Stretch Pose
  • Reclining Hero Pose

These are some of the effective yoga for flat feet pain. So, try them at home whenever you get free time. You may also look more at: BestfootCares.Com

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