What are ‘flat feet’?
Flat feet, also known as ‘fallen arches’, occur when your feet lack or have low arches, causing them to press almost completely flat against the ground. Professionally referred to as ‘pronation’, this condition can be better understood by examining the arch or instep of the foot. Typically, the middle part of the foot is raised off the ground while the remaining portion is in contact with it. It’s worth noting that young children may not display a visible arch due to the presence of baby fat and soft tissue, but as they grow older, the arch usually develops and becomes more prominent.
However, some individuals never truly develop this arch. Often, this is attributed to the inheritance of flat feet from their parents. At Waverley Foot Clinic, we frequently encounter patients who worry that their previous actions may have led to foot problems. Surprisingly, we often discover that one of their parents also possessed similar feet and occasionally faced similar issues. This genetic influence can impact conditions such as flat feet, bunions, and other related ailments.
What causes flat feet?
As mentioned previously, flat feet can often be inherited from parents and may or may not lead to clinical issues like foot or back pain. However, wear and tear problems can also play a role. Over the past century, life expectancy has significantly increased, which can cause the connective tissue that holds the foot bones together to become stretched and inflamed. This may be due to factors such as overuse, unsupportive footwear, injuries, ageing, and obesity. With time, most people’s feet gradually become slightly longer and wider as the arch gradually collapses.
Occasionally, flat feet can result from the following factors:
- the foot bones do not form properly in the womb
- loose connective tissue throughout the body, such as in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or joint hypermobility syndrome
- a condition affecting the muscles and nerves, such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida or muscular dystrophy
- rheumatoid arthritis
Are flat feet a problem?
Having flat feet is usually nothing to worry about, as many individuals with this condition do not experience any associated issues that require treatment. However, complications can arise when flat feet or pronation becomes linked to certain factors:
- pain in the feet
- pain above the feet, including ankles, lower legs and knees
- Hip or lower back pain
- Excessive inward rolling of the feet (known as overpronation) can result in rapid wear and tear of shoes, as well as increase the risk of foot injuries.
- an underlying problem with the bones, muscles or connective tissues in and around the feet
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s worth considering seeking medical advice from a podiatrist or GP for appropriate treatment and care.
Treatments for flat feet/pronation
Non-surgical treatments are typically the initial course of action, although surgery may be necessary in exceptional circumstances.
During your visit to a podiatrist, a comprehensive examination of your feet and lower limbs will be conducted. The purpose is to determine if flat feet are the underlying cause of your symptoms, such as foot or back pain.
Treatment options aim to provide support to the arch, facilitating the restoration of the foot’s correct shape. This, in turn, enables the body to improve its posture.
Digital biomechanical assessment
Custom orthotics might be prescribed to provide support for individuals with flat feet. Utilising a digital gait analysis system, we can accurately determine the specific support needed for biomechanics and sports injury-related foot pain. This guarantees that the orthotic insoles are not only comfortable but also highly effective. A wide range of orthotics is available to accommodate different shoe types, from running trainers to smart business shoes or narrow women’s dress shoes. Rest assured, all shoe styles can be comfortably accommodated.
What next if your flat feet cause problems or pain?
If you suspect that flat feet are causing you trouble, why not schedule a digital biomechanical assessment at Waverley Foot Clinic in Farnham? Feel free to reach us at 01252 716611. Our experts will thoroughly evaluate your condition and provide tailored treatment options to alleviate pain and ensure optimal foot health in the long run.