What is Flat Foot?
People with flat feet have either no arch in their feet or an arch that is very low. Flat foot is also sometimes called “fallen arches”. Typically, when someone stands they have a gap beneath the inner part of the foot and the floor.
The arches in feet provide a spring to the step and help properly distribute body weight across the feet and legs. The structure of the arches determines how a person walks, which as we know can affect many other parts of the body. In order to adapt to stress and a variety of surfaces, the arches of the feet need to be both sturdy and flexible.
When people have flat feet, their feet may roll to the inner side when they are standing and walking, otherwise known as overpronation. It can also cause the feet to point outward. Flat feet don’t always come with symptoms, but this can depend on the severity of the condition.
When to See a Podiatrist
The most common sign or symptom of flatfeet is pain. Some people will experience it particularly in the heel or arch area and may worsen with activity. It can also cause swelling along the inside of the ankle. You should see a Podiatrist if you are experiencing foot pain.
These are areas that flat foot might cause pain:
- Inside ankle
- Arch of foot
- Lower back
- Lower legs
You might also experience swelling in one or all these areas, as well as stiffness in one or both feet. Flat feet can also cause uneven body weight distribution, which results in shoes wearing down unevenly or more quickly than usual.
What some people don’t know is that flat foot is normal in infants and toddlers because the foot’s arch has not developed yet. Arches typically develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop them.
There are also a few other causes or flat feet:
- Weak arches
- Injury to your foot or ankle
- Rheumatoid arthritis
It’s not too much of a concern unless you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your feet. Arches can fall over time due to years of wear and tear that weakens the tendon that runs alongside the inside of your ankle.
A Podiatrist may recommend specific methods to manage the symptoms of flat feet or preventing them from developing. Some exercises you can do are heel cord stretching and the golf ball roll.
Heel Cord Stretching
A tight Achilles tendon can encourage the foot to roll inward. The heel cord stretch is one that stretches the Achilles tendon and posterior calf muscles. It is recommended you perform this exercise twice a day.
Golf Ball Roll
The golf ball roll is an exercise that requires a chair and a golf ball. Simply put, you place the golf ball under your foot and roll it back and forth under the arch of the foot for 2 minutes to stretch the plantar fascia ligament.
If flat feet are causing pain, then supportive, well-fitted shoes can help. Extra-wide fitting shoes can provide relief as well. Fitted insoles and custom inserts designed for arch support may also help to relieve pressure on the arch and reduce pain. Keep in mind that these products only treat the symptoms and do not provide long-lasting benefits.
Wearing an ankle brace may also be beneficial until the inflammation reduces. Your Podiatrist may also advise you to rest until your symptoms improve, or avoid activities that aggravate the foot or feet. When obesity is the cause of flat feet, treatment may include weight loss.
Like most foot and ankle related conditions or injuries, it’s best to see a Podiatrist for diagnosing and treatment. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, do not wait for the conditions to get worse. For any questions, feel free to contact us or subscribe to our blog to continue learning more.