Understanding Flat Feet
With over 7 billion people in this world, it is only natural that there are bound to be many variances with regard to body structures. A clear example of this is foot arches. There are essentially three different styles—normal, high, and low—and each affects an individual’s gait in a different manner. When it comes to flat feet, the lack of arch may lead to problems or difficulties for some people.
Identifying Your Arch Style
It can be difficult to determine your arch style by simply looking down at your feet. Flat feet and ones with high arches look rather similar from the top, so you need another approach. There are two ways that can be helpful in telling if you have low arches:
- Take the “wet test.” Wet the sole of your foot and then take a normal step onto a thick piece of paper or dry pavement. If the print is full—meaning that it has roughly the same width all the way across the length of it—you probably have flat feet.
- Check out your shoes. Examine the bottoms of your shoes and note the wear patterns. If your feet are flat, they will likely have excessive wear along the inside edges of the ball of foot and heel areas.
Pronation and Flat Feet
Pronation is a natural inwards rolling motion that your feet go through with every step you take. As your feet roll, the arches flatten to help distribute force. This happens all the way through to the push from your toes at the end of a step, and it is about a fifteen percent roll for a neutral foot arch. Individuals with low arches tend to roll excessively, which is known as overpronation.
Most cases of flat feet are simply due to an inherited foot structure, but other factors that lead to the condition include pregnancy, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, aging, and traumatic injury. Regardless of the root cause, an individual who has low arches may experience pain in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back, often as a result of overpronation.
There is also a medical issue known as tibialis posterior tendonitis that is common to individuals with fallen arches. In this condition, the tibialis posterior tendon becomes stretched, torn, or inflamed and may cause chronic pain or severe disability.
Orthotics and Treatment
Most treatments for low arches are nonsurgical. They include:
- Orthotic devices and arch supports. Custom orthotics are medical devices we create especially for your feet and they provide the support you do not naturally receive, which reduces symptoms and relieves pain.
- Low-impact exercises. Flat feet become overworked with too much high-impact activity. To prevent this from becoming an issue, we might recommend substituting some low-impact exercises like swimming or bicycling into your workout regimen.
- Stretching exercises. Along with low-impact activities, stretching exercises can also be quite effective. Shorten Achilles tendons often accompany low arches, so keeping the tendon limber is helpful.
- Proper footwear. Choosing structurally-supportive shoes can make a difference in reducing issues from overpronation. Employees at shops that cater to runners can be particularly helpful with finding a pair that works for you.
Conservative methods are often successful, but surgery becomes a necessary option in some cases. If this applies to you, we will review all options ahead of time so that you are able to make a decision that you are confident making.
Treatment for Painful Flat Feet in Manalapan, NJ
If your low arches are not causing any issues, you don’t need treatment—simple as that. In cases where they are causing pain or interfering with your ability to do things you enjoy, A Step Up Podiatry, LLC, is here to provide the care you need. Sanjay Gandhi, DPM and the staff at our Manalapan Township office are ready to help. Call (732) 446-7136 or use our online form and schedule your appointment today.