Sometimes flat is good. For instance, the south shore of Georgian Bay is made up of flat plates of shale, and some of the rocks contain fossils that are 450 million years old. It’s a great place to launch a kayak, fish, or just watch the sunset. Other times flat is not so good. Flat feet could cause you to overpronate (roll your feet too far inward when you walk) and put pressure on the posterior tibial nerve that lies along the inside of your ankle. This will result in tarsal tunnel pain.
The tarsal tunnel is formed by your ankle bones and the ligament sheath that lies over them. In between lie the blood vessels, tendons and nerves that feed the foot and make movement possible. When you overpronate, have swelling from an injury or arthritis, or have a growth such as a cyst in this area, the tissues press on the nerve, causing numbness, tingling, burning, or shooting pains in your ankle. These symptoms can reach into the foot and toe or up into the leg as well.
Relieving the pressure includes resting and icing the ankle until the swelling subsides, wearing a cast or brace to keep the bones and ligaments in place, or using injection or physical therapy. We may also recommend different shoes or fit you with custom orthotics that help correct the overpronation. Once the pain and swelling are reduced, stretching exercises will help you recover from tarsal tunnel pain.
Because tight calf muscles can make overpronation worse, you need to keep them limber. Here’s how:
- Stand facing a wall, put your hands on it at shoulder height, and put one foot back a step. Keep that heel on the ground and the knee straight, and lean in at the hips to gently stretch the gastrocnemius muscle in your upper calf. Hold for 10 seconds and release. Do this 3 to 5 times, 3 times a day. Repeat with the other leg. You can gradually hold the stretch longer each time. Don’t bounce or stretch so far that it hurts, though.
- Doing the same procedure but with the back leg bent stretches the soleus calf muscle as well.
If flat feet and overpronation are causing you pain or numbness, don’t hesitate to give Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic a call at (705) 444-9929 in Collingwood, or book an appointment on our website.
Photo credit: marin via freedigitalphotos.net