You say you “can’t” run. You’ve got flat feet or high arches. Is there such a thing as “perfect” running feet? 

I don’t think so.

Everyone’s feet are unique, the key is to know what you’re working with and do what you can to improve. What kind of feet do you have and how does it affect your run?

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Here are three common arch types:

Flat feet: People with little to no arch, typically collapse inward upon foot strike. Running flat footed can be an injury risk as it causes stress on the feet and knees.

High arches: When standing, a person with high arches might find that they tend to stand more on the outsides of the feet. They may not supinate (roll outward) but the high arch may not provide much cushion.

Medium arch: This is the most common foot type. The medium arch typically supports the body weight and pronates naturally upon foot strike.

No matter the height of your arch, there are a few things that you can do that will help prevent injury when it comes to your feet.

Stand on your mid-foot

To find the mid-foot, imagine a tripod on the bottom of your shoe. One point more or less below your big toe, the second point beneath your little toe (spanning the widest part of your foot) and the third point at the forward part of your heal.

You will always be able to wiggle your toes.

Aim to stand on the tripod every day, all day, with equal weight on each point.

As stated above, if you have a high arch, you’ll tend to have more weight on the outsides of your feet, and if you have flat feet, your weight will tend to collapse in.

Notice where you stand throughout the day – catch yourself and pay attention. Find your tripod, wiggle your toes, and relax your feet.

running flat footed_2Toe dexterity

Your feet and – more importantly – your toes are a critical part of the run. With each strike of the ground your foot flexes, absorbs energy and helps to propel you forward. Toe dexterity is critical.

Have no idea what I’m talking about?

Do this simple practice:

1. Stand with your feet hip width apart.

2. Lift the right big toe, while keeping all other toes flat on the ground.

3. Lower the big toe, and then lift the smaller toes while keeping the big toe on the ground.

4. Repeat ten times on each foot (or do as many as you can until you can do 10!).

Strengthen your feet

Every time you put on shoes, the muscles in your feet have to work less. Simply taking those shoes off and walking barefoot for a day helps. However, hardwood floors aren’t much of a challenge.

Live life on the edge and walk across gravel. Walk barefoot in the sand. Or find a rocky beach, and go skip some rocks, while walking back and forth.

This is meditative practice at it’s best, as well as good for your feet.

If you’ve been wearing shoes for any amount of time though, do this is small bursts. You can’t go from wearing shoes all day to barefoot without getting injured.

Practice for five-ten minutes at a time, and gradually increase.

Remember, there’s no such thing as “perfect” feet, or the “perfect” running body. Simply use the body you have and the clues that it provides to run well and prevent injury.

Enjoy every run!

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