Do You Have Flat Arches?
Have you ever noticed that some people have really flat feet? You may even be one of them. Most people’s arches develop throughout childhood, but some people never develop an arch. Others develop arches but over time their arches fall and collapse. Flat arches are common and often a painless condition, however, at times this condition can cause pain because it alters the alignment of your legs. The pain from misalignment can affect your ankle, calf, knee, leg, and back because of the extra strain caused.
Spenco Total Support
Browse our full collection of insoles for low arches.
What Are Flat Feet?
Flat arches, also called fallen arches, pes planus, or flat feet, is a common and often painless condition. When a person has flat feet, the entire sole of their foot comes into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. Flat arches are a normal variation in foot type, and people without arches may or may not have problems. Those who do have painful feet from flat arches may experience symptoms such as pain in the heel or arch area, or swelling along the inside of the ankle or inside the bottom of the foot. Some people may have ankle, knee, hip, leg, and back pain related to low arches because this condition can alter the alignment of your legs. Someone may also experience foot fatigue or stiffness in the feet due to flat arches.
What Causes Flat Feet?
There are a few different causes for flat arches. This condition can be a congenital flatfoot, which occurs when arches do not develop during childhood. It can also be caused by a postural deformity in which the arch of the foot collapses over time. This happens when years of wear and tear weaken the tendon that runs along the inside of your ankle and helps support your arch.
At times flat arches develop after an injury. The posterior tibial tendon is the main support structure of the arch of our feet. The tendon can become inflamed (tendinitis) or overused – sometimes it can even become torn. Once the tendon is damaged, Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfuction (PTTD) can occur and the arch shape of the foot may flatten. Flatfooted runners are prone to overuse injuries and should be sure to wear proper support in order to prevent injury.
In some cases people experience tarsal coalition, a condition in which the bones of the foot fuse together in an unusual way, resulting in stiff and flat feet. This is most commonly diagnosed during childhood.
Many young children have flat feet, but when a child rises to his or her toes, a slight arch appears. This is called flexible flatfoot. For the most part, a child’s arches will develop as he or she grows older.
How to Know If You Have Flat Feet
Do you have flat feet? Here is a simple test to find out: With your feet wet, stand on a surface that will reveal your footprint. A good option for this is a concrete floor or walkway. Next, step back and look at your wet footprints. If there is a print of your entire bottom of your foot, including the center, it is likely that you have flat feet.
How to Treat Flat Feet
There are various ways to treat flat feet. One of the most important treatments is a structurally supportive shoe. If your flat feet are causing you pain, then adding over-the-counter orthotics to good shoes may help very much. Or your doctor might suggest custom-designed arch supports, which are molded to the contours of your feet. Arch supports won’t cure flatfeet, but they often reduce symptoms.
Stretching exercises or physical therapy can also help flatfooted patients, but unless it is combined with proper footwear it may not be effective long term.