Use This Drill To Fix Flat Feet and Ankle Pronation
Dr. Joel Seedman, Ph.D.
Flat feet, fallen arches, and ankle pronation are some of the most common forms of foot and ankle dysfunctions. However they all fall under a similar category of neuromuscular and structural issues, most of which are related to valgus collapse of the hip, knee, and ankle. Therefore by addressing one of these components you’re essentially helping to fix the others.
Here’s one of my NFL athletes, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Taylor Heinicke demonstrating a very simple eyes closed variation for addressing these issues as we strengthen his feet and ankles for the demands of the rigorous NFL season.
To improve issues associated with excessive foot/ankle pronation, flat feet, fallen arches, and eversion the key is to perform drills that require the individual to resist pronation or valgus forces. Essentially these drills force the individual to drive into supination by pushing to the lateral portion of their foot. Single leg variations of movements where the weight is loaded contralaterally (opposite arm and leg) are very effective for addressing this as you’re essentially feeding the dysfunction. For example performing a single leg stand on your left leg while holding the load in your right hand forces the lifter to push their ankle outward to resist the pronation forces created by the contralateral loading.
Performing these in an eyes closed fashion further challenges the stabilizers around the feet, ankles, and hips. It also forces the lifter to rely on proprioceptive feedback from muscles spindles to dial in the movement and stabilize the body. Simply put, eyes closed variations improve body mechanics and kinesthetic awareness as anything but proper alignment results in loss of balance. Just be patient as these can be incredibly difficult to master.
If you have trouble with ankle and knee collapse during squats, jumps, lunges, and other lower body movements, performing drills that are loaded in a contralateral fashion is critical as they not only help eliminate ankle pronation but also strengthen the outer hips, abductors, and glute medius muscles.
For individuals who suffer with the valgus collapse of the feet and ankles as well as pronation and flat feet, you’ll want to practice drills like this daily. Several sets of 30 seconds per side is ideal. Start with eyes open variations on a hard surface then progress to softer surfaces and eventually eyes closed. Once you can successfully perform a majority of your foot and ankle stabilization drills under eyes closed conditions you’ll most likely have eliminated a majority of your foot and ankle issues not to mention most lower body dysfunctions.
For those who suffer with excessive supination of the ankles, performing the same drills but in an ipsilateral loading fashion (loading the same arm and leg) is ideal for correcting this form of dysfunction.
For more on fixing foot and ankle issues check out my in depth Foot and Ankle Training Manuel