How To Fix Flat Feet
Flat feet or “fallen arches” are more common than one might think and many suffer from this uncomfortable condition. While it’s normal for babies and toddlers to have flat feet, as we grow our bones naturally firm up and create a shock-absorbing arch. This foot structure allows us to walk smoothly and with greater dexterity.
What Causes Flat Feet?
As we age, however, our bodies continue to go through changes – some of which affect the shape and performance of our feet. The most common causes of this arch type are:
How Can This Condition Be Treated?
In most cases, flat feet can be treated and fixed. For some, a corrective shoe will do the trick while in other more extreme scenarios, surgery is the only solution. Let’s take an in-depth look at the options:
1. Wear Supportive Shoes
Wearing shoes that give excellent arch support is highly recommended, even for those who do not suffer from foot ailments. A shoe that fits well will decrease tension in the posterior tibial and Achilles tendons, relieving you from pain and encouraging your foot to take on a more natural and comfortable stance. If you do sports or running, be sure to always wear running shoes for flat feet since it can make all the difference.
2. Invest In Custom Made Orthotics
Consider investing in a pair of customized orthotics. Orthotics are semi-rigid shoe inserts that enhance arch support and also promote better biometrics. The only catch is that this useful tool only works well with flat feet that are still flexible – meaning that they will adjust well to the shape and purpose of the insert.
Your local podiatrist will be able to fit you with a custom-made pair of orthotics.
3. Lose Weight If You Are Heavy
If you are overweight, then one solution would be to lose a few pounds so that you can relieve the force that’s put onto your lower body. Losing weight might not have instant effects and if your feet are very rigid then you might not feel any difference. On the plus side, you will definitely reduce the pressure on your bones, ligaments, and the tendons of your feet – providing better blood flow to the area.
4. Give Physical Therapy A Go
If you really want to treat your flat feet, then a visit to a physiotherapist is always a good idea. A physiotherapist will be able to put together an exercise plan for your feet type, incorporating stretches and strengthening movements that will work your Achilles tendons and calf muscles. By practicing these movements daily, there’s a good chance you will be able to restore your arch and make it more functional.
5. Wiggle Your Toes
Did you know that our toes are fully capable of moving independently, just like our fingers? With a little exercise, you might just get the movements right! These toe wiggles will also help to strengthen your arches, allowing them to grip the ground and stand strong.
6. Heel Stretches
Heel stretches are another easy exercise that you can do to raise, strengthen, and lengthen your arches. The movements work best on flexible feet but can help to give more rigid feet some pain relief too. This workout is an excellent way to stretch your heels:
- Rest your hands on a wall as you stand
- Keep one leg forward and extend your other leg behind you
- Bend your front knee while you slowly push yourself into the wall
- You’ll feel a stretch in your back leg and Achilles tendon
- Hold this position for a few seconds before swapping legs
- Do a number of reps at a time
7. Spread Your Toes
Yoga toe spreaders are quite the trend and work wonders at alleviating foot pain, improving toe mobility, and treating conditions such as bunions, plantar fasciitis (here you can also add insoles for plantar fasciitis), and – you guessed it, flat feet.
Yoga toes can be purchased online. When you first wear them, you will feel the strain on your toes almost instantly. We suggest you wear them for short periods at first and then extend the wearing time as your toes adjust to the feeling.
8. Take Corticosteroids
If you experience severe pain, then your doctor might suggest injecting a course of corticosteroids. Corticosteroids will help to reduce pain, inflammation, and arthritis – all of which can be causes of flat feet.
9. Consult A Podiatrist
Podiatrists are foot specialists who can treat feet for an assortment of conditions. On consulting with one, your foot will be examined and a course of treatment will be planned depending on your diagnosis. Treatment plans for collapsed arches can include:
- Palliative care (rest, ice and a course of anti-inflammatories)
- Orthotic therapy
- Casting or bracing of the foot
10. Talk To Your Doctor About Surgical Options
If all else fails and if your feet are simply too rigid to adjust with the above treatment plans, then you might have to consider corrective surgery. This surgery is generally split into three types namely bone fusions, soft tissue procedures, and bone cuts.
Depending on the severity of your condition, your doctor will operate accordingly, with the intention of realigning your foot so that the main tendon that lifts the arch is reinforced. Once you have healed you will be required to do some post-op exercises to strengthen your muscles and enhance the surgery.