When it comes to the health of your feet, there are many conditions and injuries that can cause things to go wrong. Many patients will go to a podiatrist with complaints of their feet hurting or other symptoms that consequently cause foot pain.
While there can be a number of issues with the feet, it is especially common for a patient to have complaints that are due to flat feet. Flat feet occur when you have little to no arch support for your foot, causing the entire sole of your foot to come into contact with the ground.
This can stretch out the tendons and ligaments and does cause a good deal of pain if you are not careful. Let’s take a closer look at some of the steps that you can take to help prevent flat feet from getting worse, and even some tips to help you relieve the pain that comes from having flat feet.
How Can I Prevent Flat Feet?
Our feet are pretty complex and there are a lot of different components that come together to make us move around. With more than 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons, 26 bones, and 33 joints, it is pretty amazing all of the work that we are able to do on our feet. But when the arch of the foot is off, it can cause a number of problems.
When you have flat feet, there are two issues that can come up. You either didn’t fully develop your arches during childhood, or these arches fell slowly due to damage to the tendons. There are a number of different things that can cause you to develop these flat arches and they include
- Living with certain conditions
- These can include cerebral palsy, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
- Having an injury to the ankle or the foot
- Having a history in your family of flat feet
- Being pregnant, overweight, or obese
When you have feet that are flat, with little to no arch support, it can throw the body out of line and lead to a good deal of pain and stress. This can be felt through many parts of the body such as your feet, ankles, lower limbs, and even in the hips and back.
Finding ways to prevent flat feet will make it better. It is important to note that neither rigid nor semi-rigid orthotics are not suggested for those with diabetes, due to nerve damage and the possible resulting injury from wearing them.
The good news is there are a lot of steps that you can take to help prevent and manage your flat feet. Some steps that you can take include
Manage Your Flat Feet
Fallen arches are more common than you may think. In fact, it is estimated that up to 30% of Americans will have this type of condition and 1 out of 10 of these people will have symptoms of the condition as well. It is possible to have a fallen arch either on one foot or on both feet at the same time.
It is important that you take the time to manage your flat feet as much as possible. You can work with a podiatrist or another specialist to help diagnose the condition during a routine visit.
They will then work with you to come up with a personalized treatment plan. There are a few different therapists that are available based on how bad the condition is.
Custom Orthotics Can Help You to Prevent Flat Feet
One option that you can consider for your feet is a pair of custom orthotics. Many patients who start to notice they struggle with flat feet will use an over-the-counter insole. While these can provide a few benefits and are not all bad, they are often not as good for the feet as a pair of custom orthotics.
Custom orthotics are designed specifically for your feet. This means that they are made to handle the exact cause of your flat foot and will provide additional comfort and support where you need it the most.
The materials of the custom orthotic are often higher in quality, which allows them to last a bit longer as well. Your doctor will be able to help you create a custom orthotic that will work for your needs.
They can create a custom mold of your foot and do an analysis of your walk and gait, looking at your medical history as well. This will make sure that you get an orthotic that is meant to last and is perfect for your foot.
Flat Feet Can Be Avoided With the Help of Supportive Footwear
A pair of custom orthotics can be a great option for you to choose from, but you should also consider the type of shoes that you put on as well. Similar to the custom orthotics that your podiatrist can give you, supportive shoes will provide a good deal of alignment to the body, can add in some arch support, and can cushion the feet when you move around.
There are a lot of great shoes out there, but you will need to look for ones that are specifically made to handle issues of flat feet. You can shop around online to find a pair that you like the most or consider asking your podiatrist for some recommendations so you get a pair of shoes that can help solve the issue.
Exercising Your Feet Regularly Can Help Prevent Flat Feet
Depending on how bad your flat foot condition is, you may need to do some exercises with the foot to keep it as healthy as possible. The point of doing some of these movements is to focus on strengthening, lengthening, and raising the arches so that you have some more support and can move around easier.
There are a few options that you can choose to help make sure that your foot is as strong as possible. Some of the exercises that are best for fallen arches and flat feet will include calf raises, arch lifts, and heel stretch to name a few. Your podiatrist may have a few recommendations for exercises to try as well.
Flat-footed Patients Should Consider Physical Therapy
For some patients, utilizing physical therapy can make a lot of sense. If the reason or cause for your flat feet is because you have improper technique when working out, poor form, or from a previous injury, then physical therapy is going to be one of the best options for strengthening that arch and making the feet happy.
When you do physical therapy, you will be able to work with a professional who knows your feet and your medical history and can ensure that the movements you do will be safe and healthy for the feet. The sessions are going to focus on helping you to restore more balance, alignment, and even proper movement to the whole body so you can walk with ease again.
Some More Unorthodox Treatment Options
Typically, a mixture of the simple treatment options listed above will be enough to solve your flat foot ailment, or at least significantly reduce your flat foot pain. Stretching and custom orthotics alone will usually halt flat foot pain enough to withstand daily activities again. However, some cases of flat feet are severe and require less traditional, and unfortunately more invasive, treatment options.
Injections Can Help Reduce Pain and Swelling
Corticosteroid injections may be the best option for you if the inflammation due to flat feet has not gone down with the utilization of custom orthotics, or with daily stretching. These injections are also used to reduce pain, but the use of them will usually require a series of injections. Sometimes, with extensive use of corticosteroids, the patient may develop a resistance to the treatment, at which point other options may need to be considered.
Your Doctor May Suggest Surgical Intervention
If several of the other treatment options have not solved your flat foot problem, additional tests may be run. In some cases, a flat foot is caused by a structural problem, such as a torn tendon, rather than the typical causes of flatfoot, like gait or excess weight. If your flat feet are caused by an injury, surgery may be necessary to repair the problem.
Bracing Can Help Stabilize Flat Feet
In some cases, a brace or splint can be worn on the foot or ankle to help support the arch and keep the foot in the correct position. Although this method is not as invasive as the other methods listed above, bracing can be uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Supporting Your Flat Feet
When you start to notice that the arch is going out of your foot or you struggle with foot conditions that are painful and uncomfortable due to a lack of arch support in the foot, then it is time to get the professional help that you need. Our team of professionals will be able to step in and provide you with some of the assistance that you need.
At URthotics, we are here to take care of your feet and make them last for your whole life. We are experienced with helping with a wide variety of different foot conditions, including flat foot, to make sure that you get some of the relief that you need.