Objects that bend and adjust under pressure are able to handle more force than something stiff that has no “give.” Think of palm trees in a hurricane. The trunks and palms flex and bend in the wind, making them less likely to be knocked down. Your feet are under high levels of pressure every day when you stand or walk. Your arches are what adjust and allow your foot to absorb that pressure and manage your body weight—which is why flat feet can cause pain and biomechanical issues.
Identifying Your Flat Feet
Flat feet are well-named. They are lower-than-average arches that make the middle of your foot look flat when you stand. Most people develop an arch during childhood, usually by the time they start walking, but occasionally not until around school ages. Others, however, never develop an arch and have flexible flatfoot their whole lives. This may or may not cause pain for their feet.
However, a flattened midfoot can also be the result of another problem. Injuries and overuse can create fallen arches, also called adult acquired flatfoot. Usually this happens when the supporting tendons or ligaments holding up your midfoot are torn or otherwise damaged. Issues with the posterior tibial tendon are one of the main causes of this kind of flattened arches. Age, arthritis, illness, and nerve damage may also contribute to this foot condition.
When Low Arches Cause Pain
Not all flat feet cause problems. However, because low or flat arches are less efficient for absorbing shock and distributing pressure from your body weight, you do have a higher risk for pain and foot fatigue, particularly through the midfoot and heel. Occasionally you may have swelling along the inside of the ankle, particularly if your flatfoot is the result of posterior tibial tendon dysfunction.
Sometimes the arch problems can actually contribute to pain in other places, like the knees, hips, and back. You are far more likely to develop overuse injuries when you’re active, too. Conditions like heel pain, shin splints, and forefoot pain are more common because your lower limbs aren’t stable and don’t absorb shock efficiently.
How to Handle Your Flat Feet
Fortunately, there are ways you can alleviate your arch pain and keep your lower limbs stable. If you don’t have pain, you don’t necessarily need treatment. If your midfoot is uncomfortable, however, it needs to be addressed. The Martin Foot and Ankle podiatry team will carefully evaluate your lower limbs and determine the extent of your condition. Then we’ll help you decide on the best treatments to relieve the discomfort and stabilize your feet.
Changing your shoes and using orthotics are the two most common treatments. Wear shoes that stabilize and support your arch. Avoid high heels or super flat footwear, since they don’t support your midfoot and could actually add to the strain. If that’s not enough, consider using orthotics to stabilize the foot. Custom orthotics can help correct the faulty biomechanics that cause discomfort. You may need physical therapy, too. Stretches and exercises can help loosen tightened tendons that may be contributing to the fallen arches and alleviate some of the pain.
No one should just accept living with foot pain; it can be treated. Let Martin Foot and Ankle help you manage your flatfoot discomfort and stabilize your lower limbs. Make an appointment with our Lancaster, Lititz, York, and Hanover, PA podiatry offices by calling (717) 757-3537 or using the website request page. See how we can help today.