In my case- being flat footed is bad. Caused stress fractures, tendon problems in my achilles and terrible shin splints. I ignorantly bought Vibrams and did the tough mudder in them and completely screwed myself over. Luckily, the pain in my achilles was so bad that I had to go to Physical Therapy.
The regaining of your arch like you were asking about was exactly what we were working on. It is definitely possible, but it takes discipline and consistency. We did exercises like towel scrunching, barefoot bose ball lounging, lots of balance work, all barefoot. It did improve quite a bit but my feet are still somewhat flat. Now I run with Newtons stability shoes, (which I am absolutely in love with) along with orthotics. The great thing about Newtons is they start you off assuming you have poor running form and they put you through a cycle of shoes to eventually get you to minimal running shoes if that's something you want to do. Since June I've been pain free.
Cool, thanks for the advice. I'm not going to get my hopes up, but will definitely work on strengthening my feet so that I can avoid injuries. I've been going barefoot more lately (not to run, of course) and it feels nice on my feet.
I will say, I've seen some improvement in my feet since I was in high school.
My arches are currently somewhere between normal and flat (they've flattened somewhat as I've grown older) so I'm probably not the ideal example for you. But my husband, who is an ex-runner, is probably a better case. He has had totally flat feet all his life. During his mid-twenties he got into running, about the same time as I did. Suffice it so say that he and his running buddies routinely left me in the dust. He did 7-minute miles and 21-22 minute 5K's. I don't recall his exact shoe models but he was using Brooks and New Balance neutral shoes. He did no particular stretching or strengthening exercises, and he never had a running-related injury. After about 10 years he lost interest in running and turned to other sports (leaving me to carry the running baton, so to speak), but the bottom line is that he ran perfectly well with his flat feet - for years - and never had a problem.
@ 5K: Ontario Mills Run, Ontario, CA, 25:19
@ 10K: LA Chinatown Firecracker Run, Los Angeles, CA, 51:44