‘Flat Feet’ is an umbrella term, referring to a foot with a lowered arch. There are many categories that stem from this, and a lowered arch is not necessarily the only manifestation.
It is also known as having a Pes Planus foot type (Opposite to Pes Cavus meaning high arched).
What does a Flat Foot Look Like?
The most common type is a flexible/functional flat foot, meaning that when the foot is non-weight bearing or in its neutral position, the distinguishing factors (lowered arch, tilted calcaneus etc.) are not visible.
However as ground reaction force increases upon weight bearing, the signs of flat foot become obvious. A rigid/structural flatfoot may indicate other conditions such as a tarsal coalition.
What Causes Flat Feet?
A flexible flat foot can be linked to genetic influence, hypermobility, muscle dysfunction, and biomechanical abnormalities.
Is it bad if I pronate?
Another popular term is ‘pronation’, however it is often used incorrectly. It refers to more than just the arch position of the foot. Pronation is a tri-planar movement occurring through multiple joints of the foot.
Contrary to popular belief, pronation is a normal part of the gait cycle and plays an important role in shock absorption when walking and running.
So when do flat feet become a problem?
Flat feet need to be assessed and treated if:
- They are causing pain in the foot or leg (see heel pain or shin splints blog)
- The joints of the foot are functioning beyond their range of motion
- The foot is rigid and remains flat when not weight bearing
- There are bony lumps or exostoses on the joints of the foot
Flat Feet Treatment
Initial management involves a bio-mechanical assessment to identify whether the foot is operating within normal parameters, and hence identifying any underlying abnormalities.
If treatment is required we will discuss a treatment pathway with you and ensure we understand your treatment goals and desired outcomes.
Orthotics for Flat Feet
Depending on the condition, we usually begin conservative, short term treatments immediately. If symptoms persist, we move on to orthotic treatment.
Podiatrist recommended footwear and custom orthotics are a great combinatoin as it allows us to control the motion of the foot and correct any abnormal biomechanical issues that may be causing the problems.