When it comes to the body there is some strange conventional wisdom (my least favorite type of intelligence) that dictates what can and can’t be accomplished with that with which we are given.
The inability to build arches in flat feet is one of the tropes that drive me most crazy. I am here to tell you that you can build arches in flat feet and it isn’t all that difficult. It requires some changes to basic movement patterns and a concerted effort over a long span of time.
Everyone can build muscle. Do enough pushups and you will build yourself some guns. Do enough foot work and you will build arches.
The foot has twenty-six bones with thirty three possible articulations. The bones of the feet are held together with ligaments and there are many muscles connected to these bones.
There are four layers of muscle in the foot alone and the arches of the feet are built upon the tone of the muscles of the calves, four of them in particular.
The human foot has a very cool design for its arch system—which includes three arches in each foot. The human foot is a spring arch which means that it lowers and lifts with every successful step. But steps are only truly successful when the arches are functional.
In the case of flat feet and high arches, the spring action of the foot fails to deploy for different reasons. In the flat foot there isn’t enough tone to lift and release the arch. In the high arched foot the bones are too closely connected and they can’t spread apart enough to get that same lift and release.
Poor walking patterns are at the heart of many flat feet. In order for the spring arch of the foot to work well the shin and foot bones need to align properly. Where the foot reaches the floor the foot and shin should land close to a right angle. This creates the momentum and thrust that puts the arches into play.
Unfortunately most people land with their foot and shin at an obtuse angle with the shin behind the ankle. This does a number of things we would prefer to avoid but most specifically it doesn’t allow for the arch system to drop and lift.
If someone with flat feet started walking with better mechanics it is likely that their feet would change and arches would develop.