There are roughly 3 million cases of flat feet in the US per year. Additionally, around 30% of the global population has flat feet. Despite the condition being so common, millions of flat feet still go untreated yearly.
If you have flat feet pain, you may have many questions about how to correct the issue. What types of treatments work for flat feet pain, long-term? Although doctors may have suggested them, you may not know what kind of orthotic will help correct the condition.
The best arch supports may be different for everyone, luckily, custom orthotics are meant to be customized for your feet. Here, you can find more information on precautions you can take to avoid flat feet. Arch supports for flat feet can be difficult to find, so let us help you!
What is Flatfoot?
Flat foot, also known as fallen arches, is a condition in which the arch of the foot collapses, causing the entire sole to come into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. Normally, the foot’s arch helps distribute the body’s weight evenly across the foot and provides shock absorption when walking or running. However, in people with flatfoot, the arch collapses, leading to pain, discomfort, and changes in gait.
Flatfoot can be classified into two types: rigid and flexible. Rigid flatfoot is a condition in which the arch does not collapse even when the person is not bearing weight. Flexible flatfoot, on the other hand, is a condition in which the arch collapses when the person is standing but returns to its normal position when the person is not bearing weight.
Common Causes of Flatfoot
There are many causes of flat foot. It’s important to note that flatfoot can be a complex condition with multiple causes. In some cases, the underlying cause of flatfoot is unknown.
- Genetics: Flat feet can run in families and may be inherited.
- Overuse: Overuse of the feet, such as from standing for long periods or participating in high-impact sports, can cause the arch to collapse.
- Aging: The bones and ligaments in the feet naturally weaken and lose elasticity with age, which can lead to flat feet.
- Injury: Foot and ankle injuries, such as a broken ankle or torn tendon, can cause flat feet.
- Neurological conditions: Certain neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, can cause flat feet.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese places additional stress on the feet, which can cause the arch to collapse.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This autoimmune disease can cause inflammation and pain in the feet, leading to flat feet.
- Pregnancy: Changes in hormone levels during pregnancy can cause the ligaments in the feet to relax, leading to flat feet.
Some people with flatfoot may be aware that they have the condition, while others may not. In some cases, flatfoot can be asymptomatic and cause no noticeable symptoms. In other cases, people may experience symptoms such as pain in the foot and ankle, tired or aching feet, difficulty standing for long periods, and difficulty wearing certain shoes.
How are Flat Feet Different from Fallen Arches?
“Flat feet” and “fallen arches” are used interchangeably to describe the same condition. Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, refer to a condition in which the arch of the foot collapses, causing the entire sole to come into complete or near-complete contact with the ground.
Normally, the arch of the foot helps to distribute the body’s weight evenly across the foot and provides shock absorption when walking or running. However, in people with flat feet, the arch collapses, leading to pain, discomfort, and changes in gait.
Flat feet can have several causes and can be classified into two types: rigid and flexible. Rigid flatfoot is a condition in which the arch does not collapse even when the person is not bearing weight, while flexible flatfoot is a condition in which the arch collapses when the person is standing but returns to its normal position when the person is not bearing weight.
Fallen arches are acquired flat feet. People are naturally born with flat feet, however, approximately 50-70% of children will outgrow the condition as they mature and their feet develop greater strength and stability.
However, it is important to note that some children may continue to have flat feet into adulthood and may experience symptoms such as pain and discomfort. The exact percentage of children who grow out of childhood flat feet can vary depending on many factors, including the underlying cause of the flat feet, the child’s overall health and development, and the child’s level of physical activity.
Injuries Caused by Flat Feet
- Plantar fasciitis: This is a condition in which the fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot, becomes inflamed and causes pain in the heel and arch.
- Shin splints: This is a condition in which pain is felt along the shinbone due to overuse or strain on the muscles and tendons in the lower leg.
- Ankle pain: Flat feet can put extra strain on the ankles, leading to pain and instability.
- Knee pain: Flat feet can cause the knees to overpronate, or roll inward excessively, leading to pain and instability in the knee joint.
- Back pain: Flat feet can cause imbalances in the way the weight is distributed across the body, leading to strain and pain in the back.
- Tendinitis: Flat feet can cause overuse and strain on the tendons in the feet, leading to tendinitis, or inflammation of the tendons.
What Other Precautions Can I Take to Avoid Flat Feet?
There is no guaranteed way to prevent flat feet, but some precautions may help reduce the risk or severity.
Exercising regularly can help strengthen the muscles in the feet and legs, which can help reduce the risk of flat feet. Excess weight can increase the risk of flat feet.
By exercising and maintaining a healthy weight, additional stress on the feet can be decreased. Stretching the feet and legs regularly can help improve flexibility and reduce the risk of flat feet.
A few stretching exercises to try that can help your flat feet pain are:
- Calf Stretches: Stretching the calf muscles can help improve the flexibility of your feet and reduce discomfort. To do this, stand facing a wall and place your hands on it for balance. Place one foot behind the other, keeping the front foot flat on the ground and the back heel lifted. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch feet.
- Arch Lifts: This exercise helps to strengthen the muscles in your feet that support your arches. To do this, sit with your feet flat on the ground, then lift your heels as high as you can, holding for a few seconds before lowering them back down.
- Toe Lifts: This exercise works to strengthen the muscles in your feet and improve your balance. To do this, stand with your feet hip-width apart and lift one foot off the ground, balancing on the other foot. Hold for a few seconds before switching feet.
Some other precautions you can take against flat feet are:
- Wear supportive shoes: Wearing shoes with good arch support can help distribute weight evenly across the foot and reduce the risk of flat feet. Using custom orthotics is another option to give your feet the arch support they need.
- Avoid high heels: High heels can place excessive stress on the feet and increase the risk of flat feet.
- Avoid standing or walking for long periods: Prolonged standing or walking can put additional stress on the feet and increase the risk of flat feet.
Taking breaks and resting can help reduce stress on the feet and reduce the risk of flat feet. It is essential to your health to allow your feet time to recover.
How Can I Heal My Fallen Arches?
Aside from stretches, exercises, and custom orthotics, there are some other useful treatment options for fallen arches.
Physical therapy can help improve strength, flexibility, and balance in the feet and legs, reducing the risk of pain or injury associated with fallen arches. While there are some exercises and stretches that can be done at home, a physical therapist can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.
Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can relieve pain and inflammation associated with fallen arches. Although store-bought medicine usually helps, flat feet pain sometimes requires prescription medication. It is best to see a healthcare professional if you find your foot pain is severe.
Rest can help reduce pain and swelling associated with fallen arches. Resting the feet and elevating them when possible can help reduce stress and strain on the feet and reduce pain and swelling.
Applying ice to the affected area can also help reduce pain and swelling by reducing inflammation and constricting blood vessels, which can help lower blood flow to the affected area. Ice should be applied for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day, to help reduce pain and swelling.
In severe cases of fallen arches, surgery may be necessary to correct the condition. This may include procedures such as tendon transfers or osteotomies to realign the bones in the foot and improve its function of the foot.
It’s important to note that fallen arches are a long-term issue, requiring consistent treatment.
What are the Benefits of Arch Supports for Flat Feet?
Given that flat feet are caused by the arches collapsing, giving support to your flat feet will relieve much of your pain. Custom arch supports are designed to fit the unique shape of your feet, providing a comfortable, supportive fit that can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with flat feet.
They can help distribute weight evenly across the foot, which can help improve foot alignment and reduce stress on the foot. This can help reduce the risk of pain or injury associated with flat feet.
Custom arch supports also increase stability and posture, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight and exercise. With the extra support and stability of the foot, the risk of injury is significantly decreased. Custom arch supports can help improve posture by promoting proper alignment of the feet, legs, and back.
Additionally, custom arch supports can help improve athletic performance by providing extra support and stability for the feet, reducing the risk of pain or injury.
Finding the Best Arch Support Insoles for Flat Feet
You will benefit from the added arch support custom orthotics can provide if you have flat feet. Bilt Labs offers custom arch supports that can be ordered entirely online. The Bilt Labs team of designers has been manufacturing orthotics for over 25 years, so they have plenty of experience and can get you the pain relief you deserve.
With time, flat feet can be corrected, and the pain alleviated with custom orthotics. You can use our free online quiz to narrow down what type of orthotic will be best for your lifestyle. Order your first pair of custom orthotics and experience how much custom arch supports can improve your foot health and alleviate your flat foot pain.