Flat Feet Facts
Many people, both children and adults, have flat feet. Flat feet is the term used when someone does not have an arch, or a curve, at the bottom of their foot. Some people never have issues, and others do. Flat feet can impact the ankles, knees, hips, and back. Because your feet support your entire body, it is important to care for your feet in order to best support your entire body.
What causes flat feet?
Flat feet can be caused by several factors, including bone, ligament, and muscle deficits. People may be born with flat feet, or they can be acquired over time. Flat feet can be caused by abnormalities with bone and joint structures. More common, however, are deficiencies in ligament and muscle strength. When a person is flat footed, their ligaments become overstretched. Overstretched ligaments do not return to their original length. Therefore, they no longer are supporting the bones in the feet the way they should. Think about ligaments as a rubber band. If you were to stretch a rubber band over a book for a prolonged period of time, that rubber band would not return to its original length and shape. The same thing occurs when ligaments are put under excessive stress for increased periods of time. Once a ligament is overstretched, the muscles have to become stronger in order to support the bones without the help of the ligaments. When muscles are not strong enough, a person continues to have flat feet. Overtime, this increased workload on the muscles, ligaments, and joints can lead to pain.
What can I do to help my feet?
There are several things to help your feet. Below are a few simple solutions to try, especially if you are experiencing pain.
See a physical therapist
A PT will perform a thorough assessment to determine how best to help with flat feet.
Orthotics: The use of a shoe insert can be used to give the muscles in your foot “a rest.” Just like you cannot carry a 100 pound bag all day because your muscles will get tired, your feet need a break too. With the increased load placed on flat feet, they need time to rest. Both off-the-shelf and custom orthotics are available, and your PT will help determine which is the best option for you.
Exercise: The therapist will teach you how to strengthen your feet and your body in order to complete exercises with the least amount of stress on your feet as possible.
Try a few exercises at home
Picking up small objects (bouncy balls, legos, pens, etc.) with your toes increases the strength of the tiny muscles supporting your feet.
Single leg balance: Stand next to a countertop and try to balance on 1 foot. Maintain balance for as long as possible. Also, try to grip the floor with your toes as you would palm a basketball. Make sure you place your weight on the outside board of your foot instead of the inside.
If these simple exercises are not enough, please call a physical therapist. We are here to help you get back on your feet!