Flat feet are typically caused by a bone inside the foot that is hypermobile and comes out of alignment. It’s called the tailless bone and if you can use the analogy of a stone bridge that if you have stones that come up to the center of the bridge and you pluck out that middle stone then the bridge collapses.
Essentially in the feet, the tailless bone that is inside the ankle joint acts like that stone bridge and that center stone. And, typically what happens with a flat foot is that the talus bone migrates forward on ambulation so, when a person steps down and puts all of their weight the tailless moves upward which causes the midfoot to unlock and then you have a flat foot. We do have treatments for this condition, and typically you do want to treat a flat foot because if you don’t there can be issued ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain, and back pain. Because if you can imagine your base is out of alignment then the rest of your joints can become out of alignment which our thought is that this can cause arthritis at a premature age and various kinds of joint pains in the upper mouth extremity up the kinetic chain.
Flat Foot/Flat Feet
You probably hear the term ‘flat foot’ or ‘Pes Planus’. We’re sure you’ve even heard some of your friends or colleagues discussing the flat foot as well. And we’re sure there’s a few of you out there who’ve been diagnosed with having a flat foot. It’s one of the questions that I most often get asked, “Do I have a flat foot?”
Let us tell you a little bit more about a flat foot. Flat foot is a common condition that affects the world population. Estimates suggest it occurs one in every five individuals.
How Do I Know I Have A Flat Feet?
To identify someone with flat feet, you need to observe the way a person stands or walks. During standing or walking, those with flat feet tend to flatten their inner foot or arch. Furthermore, the foot may roll over to the inner side. However, for children under the ages of 10 who may not have fully developed foot arches, assessing whether a child has a flat foot can be difficult.
Why Do I Have Flat Feet?
There are several contributing factors to flat feet. Often, hereditary causes may contribute to having certain tight or weak muscles or ligament laxity. Also, poor footwear can play a major role in causing flat feet. For example, wearing shoes that limit toe movements such as high heels when young, can lead to flat feet in adulthood.
Will Having a Flat Foot Cause Pain?
Having a flat foot does not necessarily increase the incidence of injury, nor does it usually cause a problem. However, flat feet may put a strain on your muscles, ligaments and joints, which can cause pain in your feet, legs, hips and back when you stand or walk. Furthermore, individuals with flat feet tend to develop tired or aching feet after prolonged periods of walking or standing.
Do I Need Treatment for Flat Foot?
Treatment is only required if the flatfoot causes pain in the foot or lower limb.
How Can I Improve My Flat Foot Condition?
Besides treatment, there are exercises you can do to improve your flat foot condition. It is important to perform these exercises in a safe and comfortable position. Stop immediately and inform your podiatrist if you experience any pain.
To ensure your safety is maintained during exercise:
- Pick an appropriate time to do the exercises.
- Be well rested and ensure your symptoms are well controlled by your medication.
- Exercise at your own pace.
- Avoid jerking or bouncing. instead, maintain a comfortable and sustained stretch.
- Perform these exercises several times at one go and do them repeatedly throughout the day.
Exercises to Improve Flat Foot Conditions
- Exercise 1: Towel Scrunch
Sit barefoot in a chair and place a small hand towel on the floor in front of you. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the towel and reach out with your toes as far as you can, grab the towel and scrunch it back towards you. Keep reaching out and grabbing more towels until you run out. Repeat on the other foot.
- Exercise 2: Stairs Raises
Stand on a step with only the ball of your foot on the board and the rest of your heel and foot should rest slightly below the toes. Start with your foot in a neutral position and raise to your tiptoes by pressing down with your toes. When you lower, resist the urge to drop your heel too far below the stair line. Do three sets of stair raises, ten times per set.
- Exercise 3: Calf Stretches
Stretching your calf muscles can help loosen tight calf muscles that contribute to a flat foot.
To stretch your calf and Achilles tendon:
Sit on the floor with your legs fully extended in an L-shaped position and your toes pointing upwards. Place a towel or Thera-band over your forefoot and hold. Pull it towards you. You should feel the stretch at the back of your left leg below the knee. Hold the stretch for twenty to thirty seconds and repeat the stretch with the opposite leg. Repeat the stretch three times on each leg and do this exercise three to four times daily.
- Exercise 4: Independent Toe Lift
Start with your foot placed flat on the floor. Try raising all 10 toes upwards and hold for 5 seconds. Then relax, and repeat 10 times.
- Exercise 5: Hip Muscles Strengthening
Hip weakness can contribute to flat feet so it’s also important to strengthen the muscles that control the outward movement of the leg. This helps to ensure that the joint of the leg stay in proper alignment. One such exercise is side-lying leg raises. Begin by lying on your side with one arm bent and resting under your head. Keep both legs straight with your bottom leg touching the ground, while raising the bottom leg. Hold for two seconds then return both legs to the ground to complete one rep. Perform a total of 10 reps, 3 times a day.
Don’t let flat feet ruin your quality of life. Get treatment today and do the exercises regularly. Start today and you can be pain-free from the flat foot.