Flat foot is a.k.a fallen arches or pes planus. Most adults have an upward curve on the inside sole of their feet. This is called an arch. However, if you place your feet on a flat surface and you see a complete imprint of your feet, then you most likely have flat feet.
Flat feet arise from many causes. Some common factors are abnormality from birth, stretched or torn tendons, broken or dislocated bones and rheumatoid arthritis. Other factors that can increase your risks are obesity, aging and pregnancy. People with flat feet tend to notice that their shoes wear out unevenly.
Most people with flat feet do not have any symptoms. However some might complain of
- Tired feet
- Pain over the heel, big toes and/or the arches after long distance walking
- Lower back pain
- Swelling along the inside of the ankle
Those usually occur when the connecting ligaments and muscles of the ankles are strained.
The reason why people get pain from running and walking long distances is mainly due to over-pronation. Over-pronation is when the feet roll inwards too much and go past the point for shock absorption. This places stress and causes pain on the ankle, lower leg muscle, knee joints, hips and sometimes the back.
Good running shoes are important for people with flat feet. Good running shoes prevent over-pronation and provide stability and motion control while a good insole provides firm support to prevent undue stress to the body. Run on flat terrain to reduce over-pronation. Avoid running shoes with excessive cushioning and little support.
- Sit in a chair with your knees 90 degree to the ground. Lay a towel on the floor. Place your bare feet flat on the towel, curl your toes, gather a ridge of the towel under your toes and pull the towel towards you. Repeat 10 times. Reverse the motion by grabbing the ridges in the towel with your toes and push them away from you. Repeat 10 times.
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet positioned flat on the floor. Keep your toes facing forward. Pull your toes slowly toward your ankles while keeping your heels on the ground. This movement raises the middle portion of your foot. Hold in this position for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.
- Sit in a chair with your knees 90 degree to the ground. Place a tennis ball below the soles of your feet and roll it for 10 minutes.
The common treatment will normally be using an orthotic device either over-the-counter or custom made insoles to provide support for the feet. Stretching exercises on the Achilles tendon and posterior calf muscles with proper footwear can help alleviate the symptoms from a flat foot.
In rare cases, surgery is required to alleviate the symptoms of flat feet.