Flat Feet: A Complete Overview

Flat Feet: A Complete Overview

Oct 05 , 2021


Tags - What are flat feet?

Flat feet are exactly what it says, feet that are flat at the bottom because the arches have dropped.

In some cases, this can lead to pain and tiredness in the feet, as well as cause problems in the ankles, legs or back.

Usually, there should be a gap beneath the inner part of the foot when you stand, as the arch is raised off the ground.

Read on to learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatments of flat feet.

What are Flat Feet?

When you look at an adult’s foot from the inside, there will be a noticeable upward curve in the middle known as an arch.

And it is tendons (tight bands that attach the heel to the bones of the foot) that form the arch. When the tendons do not pull together as they should, this can result in no arches and thus flat feet.

You can easily test yourself to find out if you have flat feet or fallen arches.

To do this, first get your feet wet. Then, stand on a flat surface to create a footprint and step away. If you see a full imprint, chances are you have flat feet.

Flat feet are extremely common in young children and babies - this is referred to as flexible flat feet.

Essentially, when a child stands their feet look flat, but when they stand on their toes a slight arch appears, then as a child gets older, their arches develop.

What Causes Flat Feet?

Flat feet can be just the way your feet are made. It can be inherited the same way we inherit other physical characteristics from our parents.

However, some conditions that cause flat feet are:

  • Damaged or torn tendons - in particular the posterior tibial tendon
  • Gradual stretch of the posterior tibial tendon - common in women over 40 from wearing high heels for prolonged periods of time
  • Damage to the bones in the feet or ankles
  • Conditions that affect the joints like arthritis
  • Flat feet can develop with age

There are a few medical causes of flat feet too which include:

  • Obesity: additional weight places extra strain in the tendons, making the arches more likely to collapse
  • High Blood Pressure: this can affect the blood supply to the muscles in the foot
  • Diabetes: this affects the nerves in the foot and can lead to weaker tendons
  • Pregnancy: added weight and hormones can soften supportive ligaments in the foot

Finally, a condition called tarsal coalition can cause flat feet as it causes the bones of the foot to fuse together. However, this is usually diagnosed during childhood.

Symptoms of Flat Feet

Usually, people with flat feet will not experience any pain or discomfort.

But depending on the type, some common symptoms include:

  • Leg cramps
  • Muscle pain and fatigue
  • Pain in the arch, ankle or heels
  • Pain when walking or a change in how you walk (gait)
  • Uneven body weight distribution 

Treatments for Flat Feet

Treatment for flat feet will depend on how severe the problem is and what caused it.

Unless there is significant pain or other difficulties, then treatment would not be recommended and there is not much reason to be concerned.

However, if you do experience discomfort you may be advised to rest and ice the foot to relieve pain and reduce swelling.

In addition, certain stretch exercises can be recommended as well as custom orthotic devices or shoe modifications to maximise comfort and relieve pressure on the arch.

On the other hand, high impact sports that involve jumping, such as basketball, should be avoided but exercises like toe curls and heel raises can help.

Lastly, make sure you wear the correct footwear that fits properly and is appropriate to your activity (don’t wear flip flops on a hike!), and try to choose those with low heels and wide toe boxes.

It’s worth noting here, if you experience difficulty walking, problems with your balance or severe pain, ensure you contact your doctor as you may need surgery.

The Bottom Line

Overall, flat feet should not cause any disruptions in your everyday life.

However, overtime it can alter the way you walk which could result in further abnorbilites.

Even though flat feet cannot be prevented, you can stop it from worsening and causing additional pain by taking necessary precautions, like wearing appropriate shoes that offer adequate foot support.

For more information, please get in touch today.

In the meantime check our full range of comfortable shoes.

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