If your foot's entire sole comes in contact with the floor while standing, you could have what's called flat feet, says Miguel Cunha, DPM, board-certified podiatric surgeon and founder of Gotham Footcare in New York City.
Years of wear and tear from underdeveloped arches or arches affected by injuries or natural aging can put constant stress on your tendons. This continued pressure can be very painful and can affect your gait and posture — which can lead to more stress (and discomfort!) on your feet and the rest of your body (like the knees or back), Cunha adds.
If you know or believe you have flat feet and are experiencing pain, don't hesitate to speak with your doctor — and while you're checking in, ask about how a yoga practice can help you, too.
Cunha believes that yoga can potentially ease pain associated with flat feet caused by plantar fasciitis — also known as inflamed tissue on the thick band that runs along the bottom of your foot connecting your toes and heel bone.
"To ease the pain, stretching the foot, calf, and Achilles tendon [can] reduce the tension in the plantar fascia. Yoga poses that require an extension are the best to tighten the fascia and reduce the pain," he explains.
Certified yoga teacher and the president of Practyce.com, Pik Chu Wong, agrees: "I would suggest starting with easier poses and more gentle classes to begin with since opening or stretching your feet takes time."
Wong looks at yoga for flat feet as a way to "retrain" your body, noting that you could experience some pain while trying the below poses for the first time. Remember to listen to your body and stop poses when needed — and always talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
- Sit on a block or a rolled-up blanket with your knees bent, so that your toes are facing behind you next to your hips.
- While in this pose, use your thumbs to massage into the bottom of your feet.
- Try this pose for about three minutes, and work up to five minutes over time.
- Stand tall with your feet about hip-width apart and one foot in front of the other.
- While standing, squeeze the toes of your front foot toward the heel, making your foot shorter.
- Repeat on the other foot.
- Try this for about one minute per foot.
Crescent Lunge Pose
- Stand with one foot about 3-4 inches in front of the other foot.
- Slightly bend your front knee and keep your front foot flat on the mat.
- Lift your back heel.
- Raise your arms toward the sky with your gaze slightly lifted.
- Try holding this position for one minute before repeating on the opposite sides.