by CAITLIN BUCK, Feis America Magazine contributor

I'm one of many Irish dancers who suffer from flat feet. And, according to my doctor, tightly lacing my shoes actually caused more harm than good to them, creating a lot of stress on an already delicate area. Hey, I thought I was supposed to lace my shoes tight because it’s easier to point that way!

After undergoing surgery and physical therapy for my feet, I’ve learned that it’s essential for flat-footed and low-arched dancers to do exercises that will help strengthen the arches instead of wearing tightly laced small shoes. Suffering from the same problem as me? Try these moves at home:

- Roll a tennis ball in a circular motion under both feet to warm up.

- Pick up marbles and other items with your toes.

- Roll a towel up with your toes then unroll it several times, really contracting the muscles in the foot.

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- Sit in a chair with your legs at a 90-degree angle and flex your toes up.

- Sit in a chair with your legs at a 90-degree angle and put a sponge under one foot. Press down on the sponge using only your toe muscles.

- Stand on a flat surface and imagine that you are at the beach with sand below your feet. Lift the toes of your right foot and imagine you are grabbing as much sand as possible then release. Repeat with the left foot.

Be sure to check back for a list of the best type of Irish dance shoes for flat-footed dancers.

What are some exercises that have worked for you? Share in the comments below!

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