Foot arches are one of those body parts that you don’t typically give much thought to until you have an problem with them. Arches help bear the forces that accompany walking or running and assist in propelling your body forward. When you have flat feet, your arches may not perform their intended functions in the right way. Fortunately, we can help!
Types of Foot Arches, Pronation, and Potential Issues
There are variations of foot arches. Normal ones are moderate in height, provide ideal support, and do not generally result in any particular problems or difficulties. Low arches (flat feet), on the other hand, compromise the way your feet are intended to work.
Your feet undergo an inward rolling motion with every step. This process (pronation) assists your lower leg in absorbing the force and shock that accompanies your stride, especially from high-impact activities like running. If the rolling motion is excessive, we refer to it as “overpronation,” and this is commonly seen in patients with flat feet.
Overpronation may cause pain in your foot, ankle, knee, hip, and lower back. Your foot’s excessive rolling motion is transferred to your lower leg, which then causes the knee and hip to come out of alignment and forces your back to rotate in an unnatural fashion.
Diagnosing Flat Feet
It may seem difficult to determine which of the arch styles you have, but observing your footprint can provide an easy clue. When your print is wide—as opposed to only seeing half (or less) of width at the midpoint—you likely have low arches.
Another easy way to tell if you have this condition is to simply examine your shoes. Individuals with low arches typically have extra wear in the ball of foot and heel areas of their footwear on account of overpronation.
If you are still unsure, there is another simple way to find out – schedule an appointment with us and let our foot specialists give you a definitive answer!
Risk Factors and Complications
Inherited foot structure is the most common explanation for flat feet, but there are a variety of other factors that lead to fallen arches. These other factors include: pregnancy, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and even simply getting older.
With regard to arch type, it is important to know that low arches are actually common for infants and toddlers and are not likely cause for concern. This is because the longitudinal arches take time to develop. So when you notice that your young child has flat feet, take comfort in the fact that it is normal.
Treating Flat Feet
If you have low arches and are not experiencing any pain or problems, then it is unnecessary to treat the condition. However, should you lead a more active life and find that issues arise following periods of activity, come see us for help. We will assess your specific situation, but effective treatment options are generally nonsurgical and may include:
- Orthotic devices and arch supports specifically created for your unique feet by our office to provide the necessary support you are not receiving from your foot structure.
- A stretching regimen can help alleviate a tight Achilles tendon that is related to your flatfoot. We can provide instructions on stretches that will keep your tendon limber.
- Your workout program may be aiding to pain and discomfort, so we can offer advice on low-impact activities—walking, bicycling, swimming—that keep you from overworking your arches.
- You may find benefit by wearing structurally-supportive shoes, especially those that control your motion and decrease overpronation. Our office will help you find models that work best for you.
Our goal is to fix your condition with the use of conservative techniques, but if they aren’t relieving your pain, there may come a time when you need to consider surgery. At this point, we will carefully go over all of your options and ensure that you are able to confidently make an informed decision.
Richardson Podiatry Associates has helped many patients over the years to overcome issues that accompany flat feet. We will do the same for you when you contact our Richardson, TX office by calling (972) 690-5374 or using our online form to request an appointment.