Feet come in all shapes and sizes. If you have a very low arch or no arch at all when you stand, you have what is called a flat foot, also known as pes planus in the medical world. But you’re not alone! About 30% of the population live with this postural deformity.
Flat feet can be caused by a number of different reasons including, excessive pronation (the motion of your foot rolling in towards its arches when walking), having a naturally flexible or hypermobile foot, damage by trauma, damage by disease, and genetics. People with flat feet often complain of fatigue, arch strain, calf cramps, shin splints, heel pain, and pain at the balls of their feet. Although flat feet are usually permanent, there are ways to treat the symptoms and manage the condition to prevent future problems.
Treatment for Flat Feet
Custom foot orthotics help to position your foot in a more optimal alignment, allowing for better support, stability, and balance between the muscles that contribute to its dynamic movements. They can be made to control pronation in the foot and reduce stress, while maintaining proper mobility in the foot. They are removable insoles made custom to your foot and your foot’s needs.
Wearing better footwear can also help to manage your flat feet. Depending on the severity of your flat foot, you may benefit from an orthopedic shoe, which is designed with certain characteristics that make them different from everyday footwear.
For instance, the shoe may have a firm heel counter, increased torsional stability, built in arch support, and come in a variety of widths to accommodate a wider foot. Orthopedic shoes work to support the foot’s structure and mechanics by improving mobility and stability, as well as providing a comfortable fit.
With a flat foot, muscle balance is disturbed due to excessive pronation and a low arch profile.
The tendons that run along the arch become stretched and weakened while the opposing muscles on the outside of the foot become shortened and tight. This usually worsens over time. Physical therapy such as foot and ankle exercises can help to strengthen and stretch targeted muscle groups. See our blog post on Daily Feet Exercises for more information on exercises you can try to keep your feet strong and healthy.
Taping is another mode of physical therapy that may be used to help manage your symptoms associated with flat feet. It involves placing strips of athletic tape on your body in specific directions to help control pronation and support your joints, muscles, and tendons.