Flat Feet Treatment
We all start out with flat feet, and for most, arches develop by the time we’re ready to hit the ground running as toddlers on the move. However, in some cases, an arch never forms and remain flat (called flexible flat foot). Other times arches form but later fall due to injury or just plain wear and tear from age (adult acquired flat foot). No matter the cause, however, solutions for flat feet are the same, ranging from orthotics to surgery to nothing at all!
Are your feet flat?
An easy way to determine if your feet are truly flat is by using the “wet test.” Dip your foot into a bin of water then step on a piece of paper. If the foot print you leave behind is completely filled in without displaying an inward curve in the middle at all, you are part of the flat foot club. Not to worry though — there are plenty of other members of flat-footed society, and plenty of treatments, too!
How to treat your flat feet
Some people with flat feet have no issues whatsoever. They can wear shoes and participate in activities without pain or any problems at all. If this is the case, there is really no need for treatment. Other times, however, feet can get sore and fatigued, and your gait can be affected causing heel, arch and ankle pain. Those with no arches tend to overpronate, meaning their foot rolls too far inward when they step, putting them at risk for injury. When these issues occur, conservative treatment methods are typically all you need, and include:
- Orthotics – these devices can be custom-made to provide the support you need exactly where you need it. They can also correct your gait so your foot lands properly when you step, reducing painful symptoms as well as your injury risk. In addition, orthotics can provide the shock absorbency an arch would normally offer.
- A switch in shoes – along with orthotics, your shoes themselves should offer plenty of cushion and support.
- Activity modifications – avoid spending excessive hours on your feet, as well as high impact sports without a rest. Incorporate lower-impact activities into your routine, like swimming, yoga, or biking.
- Stretching exercises – these can strengthen the muscles and tendons in your foot and help with flexibility and function.
- Maintaining a healthy weight – carrying too much weight puts a lot of stress on your feet, especially if you don’t have an arch to help support you and absorb shock. Manage your weight and your flat feet symptoms will be managed as well.
Medication can also help, as can icing your arch. Sometimes complete rest with a boot or brace may be necessary. Surgery is rare and reserved for severe cases only, when conservative measures are unable to provide relief and your flat foot pain is negatively impacting your lifestyle.
If you have flat feet and are experiencing pain or problems participating in activities, come see us and we’ll get you back to pain-free days again! Schedule an appointment in Clifton Park or Troy, NY by dialing (518) 273-0053.