You take one step out of bed. Ouch. Another step. Ouch. Each step is a little less painful, but you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. Does everyone have this kind of pain with their feet?
No. But, then again, not everyone has fallen arches.
Surprise, It’s Not Just Your Feet
Stand up and look down at your feet. What do you see? Are your feet pointing out? Do your knees angle in toward the center of your body? If so, you probably have fallen arches or flat feet.
Normal arches create an upward curve in the middle of the foot. Tendons, ligaments, and muscles in the lower leg help form the arch and stabilize it.
When your feet lack this arch, or it is severely weakened, the tendons and ligaments are weakened, and they can cause pain throughout your feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, and low back.
Why You Have Flat Feet
You were probably born with it. Seriously. Flat feet are not all that common, but they develop as an abnormality in childhood where your foot’s arch never fully forms. While it can become pronounced as a child, it’s usually hereditary.
Sometimes, however, flat feet can be caused by damaged or inflamed or torn tendons, especially the posterior tibial tendon. If the posterior tibial tendon is excessively stretched, then you may develop flat feet.
Any damage to the bones of the foot or ankle might cause flat feet. Finally, some diseases cause it, like cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, and muscular dystrophy. All of these diseases make the muscles stiffer and weaker over time.
If you are obese, you’re at a higher risk for developing fallen arches. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or rheumatoid arthritis, you are also at a high risk for developing fallen arches.
Those who are pregnant and older individuals may be at a higher risk.
How To Know Whether Flat Feet Are The Real Problem
People who have flat feet usually don’t have many symptoms. But, when symptoms do appear, they usually consist of foot pain, pain in the whole foot, ankle, or parts of the ankle, or an altered gait, like overpronation or altered placement of the foot on the ground when running or walking.
Usually, an improper foot strike when walking or running causes pain in the calf, knee, or low back as shock is improperly absorbed. You’ll need a doctor to assess your gait for you, and check for other medical markers for flat foot, but most of the time, it’s obvious by the way you walk and by the structure of your foot.
Treatment Options That Actually Work
There are many companies claiming to treat fallen arches, but it’s a problem that is only successfully treated by one of several methods. You either strengthen the arches or you get supports for them.
The third option is a transitional one. You start with arch support and work on improving the arch naturally through postural adjustments and strength training.
Samurai Orthotic Insoles are one of the easiest ways to get instant relief and some support for your arches. They work like custom orthotics, but without the high price tag. Insert these in place of your stock inserts, and that should take care of the pain immediately.
For long-term treatment, you will want to focus on stretching exercises that address the arch, the Achilles heel and tendon, and the muscles responsible for creating the arch in your foot. You will also want to work on strength exercises that correct your posture.
Dr. Kelly Starrett has done a lot of work in this area, specifically concerning fallen arches and foot support. This series of videos will help you realign your feet and give you better balance.
Another couple of tricks to help you through the process:
Walk barefoot when you can.
- Wear shoes with low heels and wider toes.
- Wear negative heels around the house (only when you’re doing walking or basic household things – don’t lift anything in these shoes).
- Rest your feet more by sitting down.
- Get massages by a professional.
- Lose some weight if you’re carrying a few extra pounds.
- Ice your feet after a workout or a long day standing.
If you don’t treat your foot problems, it can lead to other problems, like pains in the knees and back. It could also negatively impact your balance and spring. It might even lead to serious inflammation of the tendons.
Dr. Thomas Lembo earned his undergraduate degree from Muhlenberg College, where he graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology. Dr. Lembo went on to attend and graduate from the W.M. Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine, located in Chicago, IL, obtaining his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine degree. Dr. Lembo is a New Jersey native and lives near Philadelphia with his wife, two sons, and their two dogs. He has proudly provided foot care to residents of the Jersey Shore since 2004.