Flat feet are caused by many things, genetics, age, weight, etc., and can create painful body issues.
A physical therapist can treat and suggest simple lifestyle changes like exercises to lengthen and strengthen muscles, shoes and insoles that will lift the arch and posture builders to engage and strengthen the core.
But those with flat feet should understand what happens to the body when there is no arch in their feet.
What should I know about flat feet?
According to Healthline,
“Flat feet (pes planus) are commonly known as fallen or collapsed arches. It’s a relatively common condition that can affect up to 30 percent of the population, causing symptoms in 1 in 10 of these people. Usually, both feet are affected, but it’s possible to have a fallen arch on only one foot.
Flat feet are caused by a variety of conditions including injuries, obesity, and arthritis. Aging, genetics, and pregnancy can also contribute to flat feet. You’re also more likely to have flat feet if you have a neurological or muscular disease such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or spina bifida.”
There are many different stretches you can do to help relieve the pain of flat feet, including:
- Heel stretches
- Tennis/golf ball rolls
- Arch lifts
- Calf raises
- Stair arch raises
- Towel curls
- Toe raises
What can happen if I ignore my flat footed issue?
If pain caused by flat feet is ignored, it could become worse overtime. Walking and other activities could become harder to participate in, the body’s balance will be affected and the pain will appear in other parts of the body, including muscle, joint and tendons.
Bunions, calluses, plantar fasciitis, hammer toes, blisters and other painful problems will increase. Athletes will experience shin splints and fractures and overall quality of life will suffer.
The best advice is to contact a physical therapist for flat feet treatment to prevent unnecessary body pain.
How can physical therapy help with flat feet?
A doctor or physical therapist will review your individual issues to determine the bigger picture. They will explain how the feet are the foundation of the entire body and keeping them strong will help alleviate pain throughout the body including ankle, knee and back pain.
Things that are normally suggested are footwear with substantial arch support, insoles to relieve foot pressure, daily stretching exercises for both the feet and the legs, ice therapy to reduce inflammation, physiotherapy to correct the walking patterns or even ankle braces, injections or surgery for more extreme cases.
What should I do if I’m flat footed?
Some flat footed individuals experience no pain so there is no need to see a doctor or physical therapist. But if there is pain in the foot, ankle or other body areas, flat feet could be the reason.
See a doctor if the arches have dropped recently, there is pain in the lower limbs, supportive or orthopedic shoes fail to help pain or if the feet are continually heavy or stiff.
What is the importance of arches?
The arches add elasticity and flexibility causing the middle of the foot to spread and close. Arches help absorb shock and are key to the foot’s strength and body balance.
Arches also help distribute weight evenly around the entire foot. When the foot is flat, the rest of the body has to make up for no arch and adds additional burden on the feet, knees and back creating inflammation and pain.
Finding relief with custom orthotics
There is a chance that your physical therapist may recommend custom orthotics to help with your flat feet. There are many benefits to using custom orthotics, including:
- Speeding up recovery. Custom orthotics can help you recover quickly from the pain or injury caused by your flat feet. Your physical therapist can also put together a rehabilitation program that specifically addresses your needs, focusing on helping you recover as quickly as possible. This may include strength and range of motion exercises, in addition to your custom device.
- Preventing injuries. Custom orthotic devices can help aid you in avoiding injury by allowing your body to move more freely and comfortably. Your physical therapist can also teach you several different exercises you can do with your custom device to make sure your feet are still maintaining strength and function. If you’re recovering from a surgical procedure for any reason, your physical therapist will help you learn to maneuver with your new device in new ways that will help you stay active while reducing the chance of falls and injury during your recovery.
- Improving physical activity. Orthotic devices can help you move in ways you may have thought were lost. Your physical therapist can help you enhance your performance and give you advice on the proper forms and techniques of movement with your new device. If you are looking to get back into the activities you love, it is likely that a custom orthosis can help you achieve that. You and your physical therapist will work together to create a treatment plan that will help you reach your goals, and he or she will assist you in increasing your strength, endurance, and flexibility with your new custom device.
- Potentially avoiding surgery. In some cases, a custom orthotic may help you avoid an invasive surgical procedure altogether due to your flat feet. With surgery, you always run the risk of blood clots, infection, and a lengthy recovery time. Fortunately, it is possible that an orthotic device can correct a problem without the need for surgery at all. Your physical therapist can also provide you with targeted therapeutic exercises that will help your body speed up its natural healing process. While surgery is sometimes unavoidable, it’s almost always better to eliminate the need for an invasive procedure if the problem can be treated with a custom device.
Find relief for your flat feet today
If you’re living with flat feet, relief could be just around the corner! Contact Infinity Physical Therapy today to get started on the first steps toward relief.