Collapsing arches in the feet can cause problems for many people in everyday life. Fallen arches, or pes planus, is something as many as 30% of people may suffer from, often causing a lot of pain – but it something that our exercises can help with. As well as addressing patella maltracking and knee pain problems, the cue of “knees out” that we use so often here, particularly during squats, is an excellent way to work at maintaining your foot arches.
How keeping your knees out helps with fallen arches
Performing squats, and rotating your knees out, puts your shins in the right orientation to support the arches in your feet. In particular, focusing on externally rotating the legs from the hips whilst keeping the feet straight and planted on the floor will create the arch you need. This causes the arches of the feet to pull up off the floor leaving only the balls of the toes, outside edge of the foot, with the heel taking the load.
Stand up and practise this now: with your feet shoulder-width apart and parallel to each other, externally rotate your legs from the hips but don’t let the ball of your big toe come up off the floor. As you do this you should be able to feel your feet pulled into a well-supported arch. To see how this works, then switch off the external rotation at the hips and let your legs rotate inwards. When you do this you will feel the arches of your feet collapse towards the floor. Now you will understand the mechanism for why the arches can collapse and what you can do to stop it happening.
When you are able to maintain that knees out position during the squat, it will become easier to maintain your arches for any other exercises – whether you’re performing a one-legged squat, walking, running, climbing stairs or jumping off an elephant.
Working on building this strength, as with any of the exercises on our site, takes time and effort. It won’t happen overnight, but if you stick to it, progressing as we advise in our Guide, you will eventually get there.