Most people have a noticeable arch along the bottom of their feet. But there are plenty of people who have particularly low arches, and these individuals are said to have flat feet.
In some cases, flat feet are no big deal. Some people with low arches go through life without experiencing any issues related to the flatness of their feet. For others, however, flat feet lead to a range of issues. In those cases, seeing a podiatrist is a good plan.
Take the ‘Wet Test’ to See If You Have Flat Feet
If you suspect you are having problems related to low arches, there is a simple test you can perform at home known as the wet test.
Grab a shallow basin and add enough clean water to wet the bottom of your foot. Once you have dipped your foot in the water, step on a blank sheet of heavy paper and then remove your foot.
If the footprint that is left behind features a solid imprint of the bottom of your foot with very little curvature along the sides, the odds are good that you have flat feet.
Potential Problems Related to Low Arches
Flat feet can lead to pain in the feet, ankle, calf, knee, hip, and/or low back. The pain is often the result of strained muscles or ligaments caused by the bad biomechanics of flat feet. Specific conditions often associated with flat feet include (but are not limited to):
- Plantar fasciitis
- Heel spurs
Start With Some Self-Care
There are a couple of exercises you can try in order to limit the impact of flat feet.
For the first, all you need is a chair and a golf ball. Hold on to the chair and place the golf ball under the arch of your foot and simply roll it back and forth for a couple of minutes. This simple exercise stretches the plantar fascia ligament and can help stave off problems.
The second exercise requires only a sturdy wall that you can lean against with one hand positioned at about eye level. Placing the leg you want to stretch a full step behind the other, make sure your heels are firmly on the ground and that you keep your back straight. When you bend your front knee, you will feel a stretch in the back leg. Do the stretch ten times—30-second stretch followed by 30-second rest—and then switch legs if desired. This heel cord stretch allows you to stretch your calf muscles and Achilles tendon.
While these sorts of exercises and stretches can be helpful for a person with flat feet, sometimes you need more than a golf ball or a wall to see the improvement you need to keep doing the things you enjoy doing without pain or other problems.
Your Podiatrist Can Help
If you are experiencing issues related to flat feet, your podiatrist may be able to help you get some relief. For example, a podiatrist can help with custom orthotics and arch supports that may provide relief from some of the symptoms of flat feet.
And, of course, if your low arches have led to issues like plantar fasciitis or the development of bunions, your podiatrist can properly identify the problem and provide excellent care. Getting the care you need is essential to maintaining your active, healthy lifestyle.
At InStride Carolina Podiatry Group, we know how to help those with flat feet find relief from pain so that they are able to stay active. We have the experience, expertise, and resources necessary to help find a solution to problems caused by low arches.
If you have flat feet and are experiencing pain that may be related to your low arches, we encourage you to contact us right away so that we can make recommendations and provide options that can improve your overall quality of life.