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Flexing The Arch Muscle

When I started this project last year I was new to blogging. The original focus for this site was on flat feet and overpronation. As the site grew I found that I wanted to write about other areas of health and fitness as well. So I created a separate site to cover a broader range of topics and the original content here became a sub-section of the new site.

During that process, I had to trim away a lot of the flat feet specific material to make everything fit within the context of the new site. I wanted to continue with the weekly progress updates for this project but I realized there wasn’t a good place for them with the direction the other site had taken.

Welcome to the new and improved Fix Flat Feet!

Over the past few months I received several emails asking me to re-publish the information from the older site. I decided to revive this site so that all the old content could have its own space. This will keep the content better organized and hopefully make it easier for people to find what they are looking for.

Arch Strength

In a few months it will be a year since I started working to improve my arches. I’ve learned a great deal during that time about why I had flat feet for so long and what strategies worked best for me to build up the arches in my feet.

Here is a photo I took at the start of the project:

Flat Feet Arch Flab

I remember looking at this picture last year and wondering what that stuff was in the place where my arch should be. It looked like a wad of fat. I really didn’t know what it was or why it was there.

Muscle Pinned Under The Foot

Now I know that most of the stuff is muscle. Unused muscle. Muscles don’t literally turn to mush but that’s certainly what it felt like.


Regaining Arch Strength

The muscle felt soft and mushy because it wasn’t being used. Either the muscle was weak to begin with causing the arch to flatten, or the arch collapsed putting the muscle in a position where it couldn’t work. I’m still debating which came first.


Now I know it is a muscle because I can feel it tense up when I do arch strengthening exercises. If I over do it I can tell because the muscle will almost go into a spasm. But that’s okay because at least I know it’s working again!

This muscle is called the abductor hallucis and one of its main functions is holding the shape of the arch. One way to tell if the abductor is strong or not is to see if you can spread your big toe away from the second toe. When I began doing arch strengthening exercises I couldn’t to save my life!

No matter how hard I concentrated I wasn’t able to spread the toes apart. When I discovered that, I immediately made it a goal to get that strength back. It took a lot of work and initially all it seemed I could do was move the toe up or down, even when that wasn’t my intention. After several months, along with working on exercises like the short foot, my brain finally connected with that muscle again and ever since I’ve stayed focused on making that arch muscle as strong as possible.

Important: This post is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical or physical therapy advice.

Photo of author
James Speck
James is a physical therapist with over 20 years of experience. He created this site to share his own journey toward better arches.

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2 thoughts on “Flexing The Arch Muscle”

  1. Hello, Can you please post the flexing exercises? I have a flat foot and i would really like to get rid of it, thanks!

  2. Hi James,

    I just stumbled on your site and I am really very pleasantly surprised to find so much valuable info on flat feet, so thanks very much! I’ve always had an anterior tilt in my pelvis and knees pointing slightly inwards and flat feet. My body functions alright, especially when I practice tai chi regularly, but I have a look of neck trouble and headaches, so since a while I decided I’d like to improve my flat feet condition. Are there any exercises you can come up with to start out?
    Thanks a lot!

    Jeroen Manders (saxophone player from the Netherlands)

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