It is quite normal not to give much thought to your foot arches. They simply do their jobs—absorb force, act as “springs”—and then call it a day. When you have flat feet, though, certain issues can come to your notice quite quickly. Being able to recognize low arches and know what to do about them can help you avoid painful situations.
Understanding Foot Arches
When it comes to foot arches, not everyone’s are identical. Your feet are uniquely structured, and this extends to your arch type. In general, there are three different variations:
Moderate. This variation is the most biomechanically efficient and does not have any problems that typically accompany it.
High. With these arches, bodyweight is heavily concentrated on the heel and ball of foot areas, which affects shock absorption.
Low. When the arch is flat, it contributes to a biomechanical abnormality known as “overpronation.” It also increases the likelihood of plantar fasciitis and ankle pain.
Recognizing Your Arch Type
Now that you know the three different arch types, let’s look at how you can recognize if you have low arches. There are a couple of different ways to identify your style:
The “wet” test. Get your barefoot wet and then step onto and off of dry pavement or heavy paper. Look at the print left behind. If you see a wide print that looks like an entire bottom of a foot, then you probably have flat feet.
Examine your shoes. The bottoms of your shoes will provide an indication to your arch style. Excessive wear on the inside edges—particularly at the heel and ball of foot areas—indicates overpronation from a low arch.
Bring in the professionals. Those other two methods are just fine, but if you want a definitive determination, simply give our practice a call and schedule an appointment. We will not only let you know your arch type, we can provide gait analysis to identify issues and provide treatment.
Now that you know how to tell your arch style, it is important to look at possible symptoms you may experience that would require treatment.
Issues That Flat Feet May Cause
It is entirely possible to have low arches and not experience any negative symptoms on account of the condition. When this is the case, there is no need for treatment or medical intervention. Sometimes, however, issues do develop, and these may include foot pain, swelling, and overpronation.
Pronation is a natural biomechanical process that happens every time you step. However, when your feet rotate excessively it causes your legs, hips, and back to function in an unnatural fashion. As a result, you may experience pain in those areas, along with developing ankle and knee issues.
Treatment for Flat Feet
If you start noticing heel pain or have tired, achy feet after periods of activity, you need to do something about it. Fortunately, treatment options are usually nonsurgical, including:
Orthotic devices or arch supports. These will not “cure” low arches, but they will provide the structure and support that you do not receive naturally.
Stretching. Low arches are often accompanied by a shortened Achilles tendon and a stretching regimen can keep this tendon limber.
Footwear. Shoes, particularly running and athletic styles, are better engineered to accommodate individuals with a variety of arch styles.
Cross-training. Instead of overworking your low arches, incorporate low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and bicycling into your routine.
Conservative methods often prove effective, but surgery might be available as an option if other treatment is not providing sufficient relief. Should this be necessary, we will review all of the options with you and enable you to confidently make an informed decision.
Professional Care for Any Flat Foot Issues
If flat feet are causing you or your child pain or inhibiting your ability to work out, get the help you need at Palm Beach Podiatry. We provide effective treatment so that you experience a true difference. Call us today at (561) 734-3100 for our Boynton Beach, FL office, (561) 791-7773 for our Loxahatchee office, or (772) 468-0089 for our Fort Pierce office.