In construction, arches are strong. A bridge that has arches and support beams is able to hold more weight without collapsing than one that stretches straight across a gap without support. This is also true in your body. Your feet have arches for a similar function as a bridge; however, not all arch shapes are able to support you well. Flat feet can lead to pain in your lower limbs.
Understanding Your Foot Shape
Flat feet are a common foot structure that may or may not cause problems for you. Your arches are a part of your feet that help support and distribute your body’s weight and pressure. They’re formed by your tarsals and metatarsals. Your arches are usually somewhat flexible, too, so your feet are able to absorb impacts safely when you walk. When they are too low, however, they flatten under pressure. Your midfoot isn’t able to efficiently distribute your body weight or handle shock.
This can be an inherited foot shape, or your arches can “fall” and flatten for other reasons. A number of people have naturally low arches. These may or may not cause pain or difficulty walking. Fallen arches are typically the result of some preexisting condition, like posterior tibial tendon dysfunction, a tight Achilles, an injury, arthritis, or even diabetic foot collapse. These are often accompanied by discomfort and foot fatigue that can make participating in activities more difficult.
The Problems with Flattened Feet
Flat feet aren’t a painful problem for everyone with the condition. They can, however, cause increasing discomfort over time and contribute to other injuries, like shin splints. Typically those with pain feel the ache through the arch, particularly when exercising. High-impact activities like running may be difficult to do. You may notice your ankle rolling inward, which can cause discomfort in that joint. Your feet may wear out quickly, too.
Supporting the Arches
There are plenty of conservative ways to manage discomfort from flat feet. Our team at Carolina Podiatry Group will need to examine your lower limbs to diagnose the problem and determine what underlying factors may be contributing to the condition. Then we can help you treat it and eliminate the pain.
You’ll need to cut back on the hard impact activities that cause discomfort so the feet can heal. If the feet are very painful, or there’s an underlying condition that needs it, you may have your foot immobilized for a short time to avoid putting too much pressure on the affected limb. You’ll probably need to make changes to your footwear. Shoes with arch support or custom orthotics help stabilize the midfoot and absorb pressure better. Physical therapy exercises, particularly stretching, may also help. Only very rarely feet do not respond to these conservative therapies and end up needing surgery.
Flat feet do not have to be a problem for you. If they cause discomfort, there are treatments to manage them. Don’t wait for the condition to cut into your favorite activities to seek help for uncomfortably flat arches. Let Carolina Podiatry Group take care of your feet and ankles. Make an appointment with us to resolve your pain by calling—(803) 285-1411 in Lancaster and (803) 548-FEET in Indian Land—or by using the web request form.