Flat feet was always something that harmed my badminton and sports performance significantly. I first experienced the real pain of having flat feet while doing hurdles during my middle school years where I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my foot making me limp for the rest of the day. The pain continued to affect and made it difficult for me to enjoy sports such as badminton.
As such, I’ve made this post to help some readers learn about exercises and remedies they could try to treat flat feet to allow them to play badminton to their fullest extent.
Because I am not a certified doctor or physiotherapist, I must make a disclaimer here. Everything I say here should be subject to judgment as it comes from my personal experience, whatever my doctors told me, or research into this topic. The exercises and remedies I provide are not guaranteed to work. Results vary from person to person.
With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into some exercises and remedies to treat flat feet!
First, we need an understanding of flat feet. People with flat feet have either no arch or a low arch in their feet. Healthy people will usually have a gap beneath the inner part of the foot when a person stands. Ankles will also look like they’re collapsed inwards for a flat-footed person as well.
It’s usually genetic or created by walking in shoes with no arch support or walking in a way that puts pressure onto the inside of your feet.
The arch provides a spring to your step and helps distribute body weight across the feet and legs. The arches need to be both sturdy and flexible to adapt to stress and allow you to walk on a variety of surfaces. People with flat feet are lacking the optimal structure of the arch and thus, may feel pain or imbalance while walking or playing sports.
Flat feet never really affected myself until I was doing strenuous activities such as playing badminton or in my previous example, running hurdles. That’s when I felt sharp pains along the arch of my feet and could barely walk.
Other symptoms of flat feet may be a pain in the calves, knees, or other lower body joints. Because of the low arch, people with flat feet might experience strained muscles and connecting ligaments because of their inability to distribute weight evenly. These are symptoms that I have personally felt, and they really hurt the length at which I can perform to the best of my ability in badminton.
Another annoying part of flat feet is the rate at which my shoes are wearing out. Every time I get new shoes, I can always see the inner feet area of my shoes kind of compress or rub off because of the pressure in my inner feet section. To avoid this problem, I often tried to walk by forcibly putting pressure onto the outer sides of my feet only to find that pain is caused in the outer sections.
Flat feet can really affect your performance in any sport or activity as pain will often stop you from playing longer and enjoying activities to the best you can. Luckily, there are some exercises and remedies you can try to treat flat feet.
One of the exercises my doctor recommended to me when I came to him about my flat feet was to do calf stretches. Flat feet are often caused by weak calf muscles that fail to pull the arch up. Thus doing some calf stretches can increase the strength of the muscles and also reform the shape to hold the arch in position.
How should we do these calf stretches though?
My doctor recommended me to stand on a stair step with the heels hanging off the edge and then pushing your heels down until you feel a stretch. Hold the position for about 10 seconds or so and then let up. Then do it again for 3-5 sets.
After doing this, my arch has improved slightly, and my calves have felt a lot more flexible allowing me to not only play longer but also better and faster as well.
With this kind of exercise, I also like to mix in some calf raises as well to improve calf strength and thus, the explosion of your vertical jump. Basically, after you lower your heel for a few seconds, raise your heel above the stair step and hold that position for a few seconds and then go back down.
Another more intense variation which focuses more on strengthening your calves is to go up and down a lot faster. Just get rid of the holding the position part and go up and down for this kind of training. You can even add weights to this kind of exercises.
Another calf stretch exercise you could do is where you sit down with one leg extended and bend over and try to reach for your toes. Do this for 10 seconds and then switch to your other leg. If you’re flexible enough and you can touch your toes, try pulling your toes back. This kind of stretch is also part of the standard warm-up exercises for badminton.
There are many more types of calf stretches you could do, and they’re all excellent for strengthening your calves and raising your arch.
Another remedy for flat feet is rolling a tennis ball under your arch. This one is supposed to push your arch up from below, and it generally feels terrific.
To do this one, grab a tennis ball, or golf ball, and put it under your foot where the arch is. And then you can just roll it around with your feet for some time.
What I like about this exercise is that you can do it while watching TV, working on your computer, or just about anytime you’re sitting down. As someone who works on his computer every day for hours on end, I find this exercise helps me to keep my blood flow up and keep moving.
Toe curls are something that I recently looked up and tried. This exercise strengthens the muscles around the arch and pushes the arch up.
To do this exercise, grab a towel and lay it onto the floor. Then put your foot on the sheet and curl your toes towards yourself. You should see the towel scrunch up. Then you push your toes back to the original position and repeat.
With this exercise, you can also try it with some weights for further strengthening. Grab a few weights or heavy objects and put it onto the towel. Then try the exercise again.
This is something that I haven’t seen on any sites yet. It’s also something that only works short term and something that people often have controversial views on.
If you don’t know what acupuncture is, it’s an ancient Chinese system of healing where doctors put thin needles targeting pressure points to relieve pressure from them.
I tried acupuncture once on my feet, and they did work for a moment. For the rest of the night, I was pain-free in the feet and could walk perfectly fine. But the very next day, the pain came back.
So this is something that’s definitely hit or miss, but I wanted to include it because it did work temporarily and could potentially work more depending on the person.
Of course, these exercises may help remedy flat feet, but it won’t necessarily get rid of it. Flat feet is tough, if not impossible, to get rid of. However, there is a solution known as orthotics or specially designed insoles for your feet.
This is one treatment that does cost money though, but it is well worth it if you find flat feet discomforting you a ton.
What you want to do with insoles and arch supports is to buy one and put it in your shoes. Then you wear the shoes and walk around. That’s it!
Unfortunately, I haven’t had too much experience with many different types of insoles other than Dr. Scholl’s and nor have I tried putting insoles in badminton shoes yet. If you would like me to try it out and put a blog post out, definitely tell me in the comment section down below!
Even though I listed some supports linking to Amazon here, I don’t actually recommend going out and buying one online without consulting a doctor or a person of expertise. You may get insoles that don’t actually help you at all or maybe even harm you. Definitely, check with someone or test insoles out first.
Another option I’ve seen is getting a custom shoe tailored to you. My grandpa has done this method before, and it has undoubtedly helped to walk around longer. It is quite expensive though, and usually, it doesn’t come with options to tailor sports shoes such as badminton court shoes.
I hope this post helps! I have definitely seen more exercises and treatments for flat feet, but I haven’t necessarily tested them out or had experience with them which is why I didn’t list them down. There are things like massages and therapy which could work as well.