What Are Flat Feet?
The arch of your foot is its main supportive structure. If this arch loses strength, the bony framework begins to collapse, causing your foot to flatten. Like a sagging bridge, the weakness in the middle strains the joints at both ends of your foot.
Causes of Flat Feet
There are many causes of flat feet. Some people are born with them. Others acquire flat feet as a result of arthritis, trauma, or musculoskeletal disorders. Overuse or repeated pounding on hard surfaces can also weaken the foot's arch.
Symptoms of Flat Feet
Discomfort from flat feet often doesn't appear for years. At some point, pain may be felt and walking may become awkward as increasing strain is put on your feet and calves.
Problems Related to Flat Feet
The excess strain from flat feet can cause other foot problems, such as hammertoes, bunions, heel spurs, arch strain, corns, neuromas, and sagging joints. Flat feet can also affect other parts of the body, causing fatigue, pain, or stiffness in the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back.
How to Treat Flat Feet?
Taping your feet may help by temporarily maintaining the proper position of your feet.
Custom orthotics can readjust the weight-bearing position of your feet. Soft, semi-flexible, or rigid inserts may be used, depending on your weight and physical activity.
What Can I Do About Flat Feet?
To help ease the pain of flat feet, try the following as part of your daily routine:
- Stretching - To stretch your soles and tendons, try to lean on something stationary, with one leg in front of the other and both heels flat. Bend the front knee. Hold for 10 seconds. Bend your back knee, bringing the heel up. Hold for 10 seconds. Do this 5 times with each leg.
- Soaking and Massage - Warm-water soaks or ice massages can help relieve pain, but if you have diabetes or a circulation problem, talk to your Podiatrist first.
- Shoes - Be sure your shoes are supportive and comfortable, with enough space in the toe box for your toes to wiggle. Women should wear low-heeled shoes, not pumps.