Sometimes flat is not what you want. Ever been camping when your air mattress goes flat? How about sitting along the highway with a flat tire? Even a flat note when singing can make you cringe. But what about flat feet? Fortunately, most of the time this condition is not a problem. When it is, Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, can help.
Hereditary or Acquired? That Is the Question
Babies have this condition when they are born, and usually develop an arch when they begin to stand and walk. Some never do, though, because they inherit a foot structure that will remain flat throughout their lives. As long as it doesn’t cause pain or limit activity, it may be nothing to worry about.
If you had a normal arch, but now it has “fallen,” you may experience more problems. How do you know if you have fallen arches? You aren’t able to look at the sides of your feet while you stand, but you can do a simple test. Get your feet wet, then step onto a stretch of cement or a piece of absorbent paper and see what kind of print is left. If the entire sole of your foot shows, you probably have this arch type.
Why Arches Fall
Conditions like arthritis, which affects your joints, can cause deterioration of the bones that weakens arch stability. Other diseases like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy can make the muscles weak, stiff, and unable to hold the joint in place. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity can also affect the health and strength of your foot structure.
Women especially seem to develop a weakness in the tendon that supports the arch. Wearing high heels, standing for long periods of time, and the extra weight of pregnancy have been suggested as reasons the tendon stretches out. A stretched, weak tendon cannot hold the bones of the arch in their proper position, and the arch falls.
In addition to these causes, simple aging and the wear and tear over the years take their toll on your arch. Any injury to the tendons, bones, or ligaments in your lower limbs can also cause adult-acquired flat foot.
When Flat Feet Are a Problem
In some people, this deterioration of the foot structure causes difficulties, one of which is pain. You might expect pain in your arch, your ankle, or on the outside of your foot. However, it also can cause your ankles to roll too far inward as you walk—called overpronation. This changes the way your weight is distributed on your feet, and can affect your ankle joint and the large Achilles tendon at the back of your ankle. If your step is altered, it can throw off the balance of everything above it, so the pain can extend farther into your calf, knee, hip, and back.
Treatment to End Pain in Nothing Flat
The most important thing you can do to alleviate the pain is to always wear comfortable, well-constructed, supportive shoes that help hold your arch in place. Forget flip-flops—you need something solid underfoot. Other remedies you can try are resting until the pain subsides, using arch supports from a pharmacy, and losing weight to relieve some of the pressure.
We can prescribe custom orthotic shoe inserts designed for your particular feet to correct imbalances, support your arch, and cushion where you need it. We can also show you exercises and stretches to strengthen your muscles and keep your tendons and ligaments strong but flexible. Ask us about the best shoes for your feet and any pain medications you can take to relieve discomfort as well.
Don’t let any pain from your flat feet hold you back from an active and fun lifestyle. Contact Chiropodist Tony Abbott at Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, by calling (705) 444-9929 and get help today! Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for up-to-date info on keeping your feet healthy.