Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, can be caused by various factors. Some individuals are born with naturally low arches, which is often hereditary. Other common causes include:
Injury or Trauma: An injury to the foot or ankle can lead to the weakening of the arches, resulting in flat feet.
Overpronation: Overpronation occurs when the feet roll inward excessively while walking or running. This repetitive motion can strain the arches and contribute to flat feet.
Age and Wear: As we age, the supportive tissues in the feet may weaken, leading to a gradual flattening of the arches.
How do you treat flat feet?
Treatment for flat feet depends on the severity of the condition and the presence of any associated symptoms. In most cases, flexible flat feet that don't cause pain or functional issues may not require treatment. However, if flat feet result in discomfort or affect mobility, the following approaches may be beneficial:
Orthotic Devices: Custom-made orthotics, such as arch supports or shoe inserts, can help provide additional support to the arch and alleviate discomfort.
Foot Exercises: Strengthening exercises for the feet and lower legs can improve the muscle tone and stability, supporting the arches.
Footwear: Choosing the right shoes with proper arch support and cushioning can significantly benefit individuals with flat feet.
Physical Therapy: Working with a physical therapist can help address muscle imbalances and improve foot function.
Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce stress on the feet and minimise discomfort.
Is flat feet bad for you?
In most cases, flat feet are not harmful and are considered a natural variation. Many people with flat feet lead healthy, active lives without any issues. However, flat feet may contribute to problems in some individuals, such as:
Foot Pain: Flat feet can lead to foot pain, especially after prolonged standing or physical activity.
Leg Discomfort: The altered foot mechanics may cause strain on the lower legs, leading to discomfort.
Knee and Back Issues: Flat feet can sometimes affect the alignment of the knees and lower back, potentially leading to pain or discomfort in these areas.
What shoes work best for flat feet?
When choosing shoes for flat feet, look for the following features:
Arch Support: Opt for shoes with adequate arch support to help maintain proper foot alignment.
Stability: Shoes with good stability features can help prevent overpronation and support the arches.
Cushioning: Ample cushioning in the midsole can provide shock absorption and reduce impact on the feet.
Motion Control: Some shoes are designed to control excessive foot motion, which can be beneficial for individuals with flat feet.
Can orthotics help with flat feet?
Yes, orthotics can be highly beneficial for individuals with flat feet. Custom-made orthotic devices, prescribed by a podiatrist, can provide extra support, improve foot alignment, and distribute pressure evenly across the foot. They can help alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of overuse injuries associated with flat feet.
Can you reverse flat feet?
In some cases, especially in children with flexible flat feet, the condition may improve or resolve as the arches develop with age. Additionally, implementing the right interventions, such as orthotics and foot exercises, can help improve foot function and potentially reduce symptoms. However, in many cases, flat feet are a lifelong natural variation and may not completely revert to having high arches. The focus is on managing symptoms and optimising foot function rather than reversing the flatness itself.
It's essential to consult with a qualified podiatrist or healthcare professional for a proper evaluation and personalised treatment plan if you have concerns about flat feet or experience any associated discomfort.
When to See a Podiatrist About Flat Feet
While flat feet are often a natural and harmless variation, there are instances when it's essential to seek professional advice from a podiatrist. Consider scheduling a consultation with a podiatrist if you or your child experience the following:
Persistent Foot Pain: If you or your child frequently experience foot pain, especially in the arch area or the inside of the ankle, it's crucial to have it evaluated by a podiatrist. Persistent pain could indicate an underlying issue that requires attention.
Difficulty Walking or Standing: If flat feet are causing difficulty with walking, running, or standing for extended periods, a podiatrist can assess the foot mechanics and recommend appropriate interventions.
Visible Deformity or Swelling: If you notice any visible deformity, swelling, or changes in the shape of the feet or ankles, it's essential to have it examined by a podiatrist to rule out any other underlying conditions.
Uneven Shoe Wear: Check the soles of your shoes regularly. Uneven or excessive wear patterns may indicate biomechanical imbalances associated with flat feet.
Limited Foot Flexibility: If you or your child have restricted foot flexibility, particularly in the arch area, a podiatrist can assess the range of motion and provide appropriate guidance.
Discomfort Affecting Daily Activities: If flat feet are interfering with your or your child's ability to participate in daily activities or sports, a podiatrist can help identify ways to improve foot function and minimise discomfort.
Pain in Other Joints: Sometimes, flat feet can contribute to pain or discomfort in the knees, hips, or lower back. If you experience such pain, a podiatrist can evaluate the foot alignment and determine if flat feet are a contributing factor.
A qualified podiatrist can conduct a thorough examination, analyse the foot structure and function, and recommend suitable treatment options tailored to your specific needs. Early intervention and appropriate management can help alleviate symptoms, enhance foot function, and improve overall quality of life.
If you're uncertain about your foot condition or are concerned about your child's foot development, don't hesitate to reach out to a podiatrist for professional advice and guidance. Remember, proactive foot care can make a significant difference in maintaining healthy and pain-free feet.