FLAT feet can be common in a lot of people. An estimated 20-30% of the general population have an arch in their foot that has fallen or has simply never developed in one or both feet.
When people have flat feet, their feet may roll to the inner side when they are standing or walking. This is known as over pronation and it may also cause the feet to point outwards. The arch in your foot provides a spring in your step and distributes body weight across your feet and legs. Your foot arch needs to be sturdy, strong and flexible to adapt to the stress that it undertakes. Medical and physical test reports have proven that a force of up to three times a body weight can be exerted on the human foot while running. Walking is something we do so much of each day and does not apply as much pressure but if you have flat feet the issue needs to be addressed.
Exercises can and will improve strength and flexibility in the feet and ankles which may help improve symptoms. These exercises can include heel stretching, resistance band exercises, toe raises, towel curls, trigger point roller balls or tennis ball and stair arch raises. I advise not to exercise if you are fighting a foot issue. Take a break from strenuous activity and seek a professional’s help.
Fitted insoles or orthotics will relieve pressure on the arch of the foot and will relieve pain because they prevent the foot from rolling inward. Orthtotics are the best choice and will treat symptoms. Arch supports might not cure flat feet but will certainly reduce the issue. Soft tissue work to the feet and deep tissue work on the foot’s extensors and flexors will improve circulation in this area. Some therapists recommend wearing a wedge in your footwear which can also take pressure off the foot. Wearing good supportive footwear is vital. A boot with plenty stability if you have a physical job, a tight comfortable shoe if you have an office job or a well cushioned trainer or running shoe when you exercise.
If you do not show any symptoms of flat feet, then there are many tests online which can be done at home to see if you have a fallen arch.
Paudie O’Donovan is a Neuromuscular Physical Therapist specialising in pain relief and improvement of mobility/flexibility. He runs a Sports Injury Clinic in Skibbereen.
Follow him on Facebook, Instagram or contact him on 086-2339618